I will open my mouth in parables;
I will declare things kept secret
from the foundation of the world.
The Prodigal Son. The Good Samaritan. The Pearl of Great Price. You’ve heard the stories, but do you know them in their original context? In this 3-week study of the Parables of Jesus, we will read through many of the well-known—and not so well-known—stories Jesus used to teach hearers, both then and now, about how to live as His followers. Each day we will read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. In lieu of reading a devotional response, we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”
Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.
Week 1: Parables about God’s Kingdom
Parables are stories with a point. They are designed to make us think about what is being said, why, where, to whom, and in what context. To get to the heart of Jesus’ parables, we need to pull them apart and take a careful look at the details He gives us. One detail that runs through this week’s selection of parables is that Jesus says they all describe the kingdom of God in some way. As you read through these passages, use the following questions to unpack the stories Jesus tells.
Day 1 Reading: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:33-34
1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?
2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?
3. What is the central point of this parable?
4. What is your response to this parable?