I have said this before, and I’m sure I’ll do so again: Jesus was a great master teacher. One aspect of His teaching that people are most familiar with is His use of parables. Some of these are short and relatively straightforward. Others were so confusing that the disciples asked for an explanation. Because of their importance in the Gospels, it was only a matter of time before I would develop a reading plan for them.
Generally speaking, they were stories of everyday life that Jesus used to teach about deeper truths. He often started with objects and people that His hearers knew very well. Essentially, things that were obvious to them. Sheep and shepherds, wine and wineskins, rulers and people who owed a debt, and so on. However, when Jesus spoke in parables, He was not overly concerned with the immediate topic discussed. They were simply a tool used in teaching others. Through them He shared principles in a more veiled manner.
This meant that some of the concepts taught through them were difficult to grasp. Even so, they are still valuable for us to study today. But that begs the question, “What passages in the Gospels are actually parables?” When I looked at various lists online I found a great diversity in what people included. For my purposes, I decided to stay with the texts that focus on examples of daily life like the explanation I shared in the previous paragraph.
This means that my reading plan does not include the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16 or the Sheep and Goats from Matthew 25. Both passages are found in many lists online, but I don’t view them as parables. The teaching in Luke spends far more time discussing what happens after death than common events in life. Furthermore, while the text in Matthew does make reference to sheep, most of it its verses are in connection with the coming judgment.
Although my plan does not contain some passages that most people may expect, it is a little more thorough in other ways. It wasn’t designed to just list all the verses that may be a parable. Instead, when I was developing it, I had two additional principles in mind:
- Use the Word to share Jesus’ purpose for employing this method of teaching.
- Include more of the context or application of each parable as needed.
Because of these two concepts, Jesus’ explanation of why He spoke in parables is included (Matt. 13:10-17). Additionally, some of the extremely short stories have their context included. The most profound example of this is Luke’s parable of the Two Debtors. It is only 2 verses long, but when the context is added, the reading for it is quite extensive (Luke 7:36-50). Adding the background to the situation and Jesus’ words to the sinful woman makes the whole teaching that much more stronger.
Even with these additions, the reading plan is still quite manageable. It is 3 weeks in length and averages 23 verses a day. Matthew takes 8 days to read, Mark just over 3, and Luke makes up the rest at about 10 days. You can download a PDF of it by clicking here.
Reading Plan in Brief
Name: The Parables of Jesus Reading Plan
Scripture Focus: Parables in the Synoptic Gospels
Length: 21 Days
Verses per Day: 23 (average)
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