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“Parable” is derived from the Latin term “parabola,” signifying “comparison.” It is a brief fictional story that demonstrates a moral or religious principle. Jesus often utilized parables to teach his followers about virtues such as compassion and forgiveness. These stories use relatable narratives to convey profound concepts in a simple yet powerful manner.

An illustration of this is the widely known parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus uses a story to emphasize the significance of compassion and kindness, recounting how a Samaritan aided a wounded stranger while others ignored him.

Jesus used certain parables to directly communicate his message to the audience. In contrast, some were unknown to the public. Jesus had to explain them to his disciples. The reason behind this is that Jesus symbolically represented spiritual or heavenly realms by transforming worldly elements in his parables.

Jesus “spoke to them in parables about many things” (Mt 13:3). They were excellent teaching aids because the people could remember them. The synoptic gospels contain 35 parables. The literal meaning of the parable is “cast alongside.” Jesus used the parables to illustrate a spiritual truth by casting it alongside an earthly model that his followers could remember and hand over to all nations and future generations. It can be a comparison or similitude of a spiritual fact to characters and situations of everyday life. Parables are also expanded Proverbs because they are condensed similitudes serving a similar purpose.

In the early part of his ministry, Jesus taught without parables. Later, when the Pharisees confronted Jesus, he taught in parables. The higher-class Jews, who were against Jesus, were close-minded. So, Jesus wanted to conceal the truth from them, while he continued communicating the truth to his disciples. He even explained the meaning of some parables to his disciples. There was a time when he said everything in parables (Mk 4:34, Mt 13:10). They served also as a secret way of communication during the crisis.

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