6 Tips For Reading Jesus’ Simple Stories

This Sunday we begin a 3-week mini-series in Jesus’ parables. A parable is a simple story with a deeper meaning.


  1. Symbolism

Expect that characters or objects in a parable will symbolise something else.


  1. Look for the atypical

Jesus is often trying to draw our attention to the unusual element in each story:

e.g. it is atypical (to the original hearers) for a Samaritan to exercise costly care.

e.g. it is atypical for a father to run and embrace the son who shamed him.


  1. Be consistent with the rest of the Bible

If your interpretation of a story contradicts another clear teaching in the Bible, reconsider your approach. God, who wrote the Bible through humans, does not contradict himself.


  1. Pay attention to what precedes and what follows

It is no accident that the parables are arranged in a particular order. Often, upon close reflection, you will realise that two adjacent parables are connected.


  1. Seek to apply it personally

It could be easy to treat the parables as a riddle to be solved, but their real power lies in the ability to encourage, correct, rebuke and warn us.


  1. Remember the big picture

In all of these stories, Jesus is still on his way to the cross. Therefore, these are not merely moral lessons – Jesus’ simple stories point to the centre of his mission; dying on the cross for our sins in our place as our substitute and rising again.


Click below to download a daily reading guideĀ 

that can help you interpret the parables.

Daily Reading Guides