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The Crown Jewels of Christ's Teaching (pt. 1)

The parables show us the values and mission of Jesus. Here's how to do justice to their unique form.

The Crown Jewels of Christ's Teaching (pt. 1)See theme

"He did not say anything to them without a parable" (Matthew 13:34-35).

"Parables are tiny lumps of coal squeezed into diamonds, condensed metaphors that catch the rays of something ultimate and glint at it in our lives" (Walter Wink, in Larsen, 143).

When we come to the parables, we come to the heart of Jesus' ministry. In fact, we come to the heart of Jesus himself—his values and mission. He depicts himself as the Good Shepherd, the Good Woman, and the Patient Father (Luke 15). He describes his mission as establishing God's kingdom, which is leaven, a mustard seed, and a fishnet (Matthew 13). He tells us to participate in the kingdom by watching, investing, and inviting (Matthew 25, 22). Even theologically liberal exegetes, often skeptical about the authenticity of the Gospels, affirm that in the parables we hear the ipissima vox (the very voice) of Jesus.

He spoke 50 to 70 parables, depending how you define the term, so that approximately 43 percent of ...

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