Jesus loved to tell parables—perplexing, yet revealing stories that teach us, spiritually blind and self-deceived as we are, to see reality beyond ourselves and to know God's love and loving demands on our lives. They also lead us to acknowledge the darkness in ourselves.

David Gowler explores the layers of meaning in Jesus' parables, which were "created and preserved in conversation with both Jewish and Greco-Roman cultural environments." Mikeal Parsons invites us to join the early Christians in reading them as allegories about God.

Barbara Reid, O. P., examines the violent endings in the parables unique to Matthew. Dorothy Jean Weaver considers Jesus' striking parables concerning wealth and possessions in the Gospel of Luke. And James Edwards asks why the Gospel of Mark, which frequently calls Jesus "the Teacher," so sparingly records his instruction. Mark is preparing us to hear Jesus' teaching, he suggests. "The spoken word is, of course, necessary, but as an interpretation of what Jesus does rather than as a substitute for it."

Clarence Jordan was an unusually able interpreter of Jesus' parables, Joel Snider observes. His academic study, small-town background, and experiences in establishing the interracial Koinonia Farm in the 1940s shaped Jordan's reading of the parables in "the Cotton Patch."

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us embrace the practical implications of Christ's teachings. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire Parables issue and the set of six Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



Hymn and Worship Service

Inspirational Pieces

Book Reviews

  • "Interpreting the Parables' Recent Interpreters," by Scott Huelin
    • Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables
    • Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus
    • Barbara Green, Like a Tree Planted: An Exploration of Psalms and Parables Through Metaphor

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)