Jesus taught in small parables- simple, short stories, which expressed great moral truths. People were able to understand what Jesus really meant as Jesus also gave explanations to the parables. These parables are really beautiful for their simplicity and lucidity.
Among the parables, the most famous are as follows:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus was asked by a lawyer what must be done to inherit eternal life. He replied that one must do two things: You must love God with all your strength and secondly, you must love your neighbour as yourself.
Hearing this, the lawyer put another question before Jesus: who should be regarded as a neighbour. To answer this question, Jesus recounted a simple parable.
A man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the clutch of bandits. The bandits stripped the man, beat him up and left him in a half-dead condition. Now along the road came a priest and seeing the injured man, went to the other side of the road and resumed his journey. Next, a Levite passed by the way and went off by the other side of the road.
Now there came a Samaritan man, and spying the injured man, he was moved with compassion. He bandaged his wounds and dressed them with wine and oil. He then carried the man on his mount and went towards an inn. After looking after the man, the next day, the Samaritan took two Denarii and gave them to the innkeeper requesting him to take care of the injured man. He said to the innkeeper if any more expense was required, he would give it on his way back.
Jesus ended the story with the question: Which of the three men proved to be a good neighbour to the man harmed by the bandits? The lawyer said it was the Samaritan. Jesus said to him,” Go and do the same yourself” (Luke 10: 36).
Parable of the Prodigal Son:
Jesus tells the beautiful story of how God treasures the repentant sinner, who returns to him from the strayed path.
A man had two sons. The younger one was very impatient: He pressed his father to let him have the share of his estate. So the father divided his property and gave half of it to the younger son. After a few days, the younger son wrapped up all he had and left for a foreign country where he squandered all his riches in a decadent life.
When he had spent all his money, the country experienced a famine, and the young man began to feel the pinch. So he started working for a man to feed his pigs. Being hungry, he was ready to eat the husks of the food served to the pigs, but no one let him do even that.
Then he came to his senses and realized how even the hired servants of his father were well fed while he was dying of hunger. He decided to go back to his father and request him to forgive his sins. He would request to be treated as a hired man by his father as he was not worthy to be called as his son. So he left back to his home country.
Seeing the young son approaching from a distance, the father was moved with compassion. He welcomed the boy with hugs and kisses. The son said: I have sinned against you and heaven: I no longer deserve to be called your son.
But the father ordered his servants to dress the repentant son in the best robes, his feet with sandals and rings on his hands. He also asked the servants to kill the calf they were fattening and prepare for a great feast. He said all this was because his son was dead but now had come to life; he was lost but now was found. Now, all began to celebrate.
The elder son was not present as he was working in the fields. As he returned home, he heard the sound of dancing and music. He called a servant and asked him what was going on. The servant told him that they were all feasting on the calf that had been fattened as his younger brother, who was lost had returned. On hearing this, the elder son grew angry and refused to go into his house.
The father urged the elder son to join them, but he refused saying that all these years he had served his father loyally without disobeying a single command, yet he never offered anything for him and his friends. “Yet for this son who has wasted and lost your property, you have killed the calf we were fattening.”
The wise and calm father replied, “Dear son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. But today, we should rejoice and celebrate because your dead brother has come to life; once lost; now he is found.”
With this beautiful parable, Jesus teaches how much God values a repentant sinner. Like the loving father, he waits with open arms to greet the ones, who were lost but now have been found.
The Lost Drachma
A woman had ten drachma with her. But one day, she lost one of her Drachmas. She lights a lamp, sweeps the floor and gets about searching for the lost Drachma. Once she finds the drachma, she calls her friends and family and says, “Rejoice with me for I have found the Drachma I have lost”.
Jesus says just like this; there would be great rejoicing in heaven with God and angels who celebrate the return of even a single sinner who was lost due to sin, but is found in repentance.
Parable of the Mustard Seed:
Jesus says: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man takes and sows in his field. It is one of the tiniest seeds, but when it grows, it becomes one of the biggest shrubs and becomes a tree. Even the birds of the air come and take shelter in its branches.”
With this parable, Jesus explains how great the kingdom of God is, being created of the tiniest of seeds but growing into the biggest of trees.