Stories are the language of humans. They are how we communicate ideas with others. That is why sharing the story is the big theme of this blog. Sharing stories is not just an idea I came up with because I thought it would be fun. Instead, if we look to Jesus, we see that he shared his truths using stories, a lot of stories. The stories Jesus told are given the title of parables.
Parables can be defined as, “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” For Jesus this meant telling stories about servants, judges, kings, marriage, or field workers. He used stories people could relate to in order to teach a lesson about God and his kingdom. These stories made sense in the culture they were shared. The stories also connected people to God.
Parables are technically still used today. For instance, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Tortoise and the Hare” are examples of parables. They are stories that give a moral teaching. Slow and steady wins the race becomes a lesson for how to live and it is based on a story about a fast rabbit and a slow turtle. Not all parables have a spiritual meaning. However, the parables Jesus told do have a spiritual meaning and are different than these modern parables, allegorical stories, or fables.
Most times a parable will be indicated in Scripture. For instance, we may see something similar to this, “so he told them this parable” (Luke 15:3). Other times there is debate over parables based on the language, but you can trust your Bible headings on this debate.
Looking at a Parable
Often times Parables are given titles. The parable we’ll quickly look at is titled “The Lost Sheep.” You can find the full version in Luke 15:3-7.
This parable starts by saying it is a parable (15:3). There is a shepherd who owns 100 sheep and one is lost. The shepherd goes searching for the sheep. Leaving the 99 sheep he goes on the search for just one lost sheep. He looks and looks until he finds the lost sheep. He lifts it up and carries it back home. He then calls everyone to rejoice with him since the lost sheep is now home.
What exactly is the spiritual meaning of this? Why would a shepherd look for just one sheep when there are ninety-nine safe sheep? The shepherd in this story is a representation of God. He has ninety-nine safe sheep but he still cares for that one lost sheep so he goes and pursues the sheep. He rejoices when he brings that lost sheep home! The ninety-nine sheep represent those who are righteous and the one lost sheep are those who are not yet a part of God’s family. This parable then can tell us about God, ourselves, and others.
God cares for those who do not know him. He desires to be with them. He is even willing to search for the lost sheep even if it doesn’t make sense. That lost sheep represents us. When we are far from God he is looking and pursuing us. When he then finds us the entire community of God rejoices for our salvation. It is important that those who are a part of the ninety-nine look for the one. They should also rejoice when the lost are brought home because they remember what it was like to be that lost sheep.