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 guide 

that can help you interpret the parables.

Daily Reading Guides

Why did we open two new gatherings?

Grace City started with a vision to see thousands of disciples throughout Sydney and beyond, radically committed to the cause of Christ. It was a vision to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the Great Commission: to call on people to repent from sin, trust in Jesus and to have their lives and eternal destinies transformed forever. It was a vision of dying to self and living for Christ: to realign our priorities, life goals and passions for the glory of God and his purposes in the world.
Our vision remains just as strong today as when we started but to keep pursuing it we need to make a change. We have always drawn a distinction between a barn-sized vision (which looks at the size of our auditorium) and a harvest-sized vision (which looks at the lost people in our city). Our barn is almost full but the fields are still ripe for harvest. We believe that transitioning to a church with two morning gatherings is the best ‘next step’ to ensure that we can keep pursuing the vision.
Over the last three years we have worked hard to build a Sunday experience that is outward looking, biblically rich, emotionally engaging, relationally warm and family friendly. In God’s kindness, he has used what we are doing to call people to himself and grow us in our faith. Therefore, our intention is to keep doing what we are doing (with a slight change to our post-service café time) but start doing it twice. This means that both the 9am and 11am service will have the same preacher, same MC, and same band each week. Furthermore, both services will continue to have kids’ ministries and community time before and after the service. The same staff team will also oversee both services.




The Story of Grace City

This is our story. ‘1000s of disciples throughout Sydney and beyond radically committed to the cause of Christ’.
It’s a massive vision, but it started with a tiny moment. In 2014, Grace City Church was born with 10 people in a cramped living room. This team dreamed, planned and prayed about pioneering a church. This church would not only proclaim the gospel but also plant churches and produce resources. Motivated by love for those who are far from God and passion for God to be known, we were excited to step out in faith.


In 2015, this small group had grown to a size of 35 meeting in a film school in Waterloo. Every Sunday we would arrive early to set up chairs/AV/food, and then stay late to pack it all down again. But we knew it was worth it because of what God could do. In August 2015, surprise struck when we were unexpectedly left homeless – having just 3 days to find a new venue to meet in. By the grace of God we landed in a cinema at the Entertainment Quarter where we held kids ministry in the foyer, showed our videos on the Hoyts screens and left smelling of popcorn.


In 2016 God blessed our small church of 50 with a new facility at 937 Bourke St where we currently meet. Over the past three years God has continued to grow us in faith and number, with many finding new life in him.


Each year at our birthday, we love to baptise new Christians. At this year’s birthday we have the joy of baptising Damian, who has recently come to put his faith in Jesus. Why not join us for the day? We’d love to invite you to join us on the 29th April at 10am as we celebrate three years of God’s grace and our story. Come early for great coffee and stay late for a free lunch. You won’t regret it!
The things is, if all we do is celebrate what God has done, there’s something missing. We’re actually more excited for what God will do. Since Jesus is coming back, we must continue to fix our eyes on the harvest. A barn-sized mentality looks inwards at what we already have. A harvest-sized mentality looks out at what is still to be done. The vision is still massive, and in the global scheme our church is tiny. Despite that we have a confident and prayerful expectation that God will continue to call many people to himself. That’s our story.


If Jesus Didn’t Rise

‘What if Jesus’ resurrection was a myth?’

Couldn’t it all just be the exaggeration of truth over time by his disciples?

If you’re honest with yourself, don’t you think it’s possible that Christians are just wishful thinkers? 

Coming up to Easter, these are insightful questions to be asking ourselves because an unquestioned faith tends to be naiive or weak. On the other hand, deep Christians are deeply convinced of the resurrection. They are deeply convinced that Jesus really did medically die on a Roman cross roughly 2000 years ago and then return to life. This post will not outline the evidence for Easter, but will give you two reasons why the Easter story is worth questioning. You can either to discard it as myth or to believe it wholly as historical fact. If Easter is a myth, if Jesus dying and coming alive again isn’t strictly history and if it was actually Jesus’ followers who made him into a larger-than-life hero by exaggerating his achievements, there are at least two huge implications.



Many large religions are based around a key figure making claims about the metaphysical. Buddha proclaimed the 4 noble truths, Mohammed claimed to have had direct contact with the Divine and atheism claims that Buddha, Moses and Jesus are wrong. How are we able to choose between them? Is it even possible to choose, or should we just declare it all to be too uncertain and get on with the more pressing realities of life? Against a cloudy background of competing metaphysical claims, Christianity’s assertion (that its founder was genuinely dead and then physically came alive again) is bold and gutsy. If that claim is true, then it really does differentiate Jesus and put him in another league. If it’s false, is choosing Christianity really any more rational than any other path?



A ‘first-fruit’ is an unfamiliar concept to us who live in cities. To to those who were closely connected to agricultural cycles and the seasons it makes total sense. If the tree has been fruitless for the whole of winter, a ‘first-fruit’ is the first time the farmer walks past the tree and notices a shining red blob amongst the branches. The reason the farmer becomes so excited is that this first apple is just the first of many to come. A whole crop is on the way! Jesus’ resurrection, if it’s not just a myth, is the first shining blob.

There are a whole bunch of resurrections on the way! When Jesus comes back a second time, the dead will rise. If you are confident that Jesus rose, then you can be confident of that. Alternatively, if you choose to reject the resurrection, are you willing to live believing that death is the end? You can look up the ‘first-fruits’ concept in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.


So far this post is phrased in the negative. So let’s give it something positive to finish. 



C.S.Lewis (who wrote Narnia) became a Christian later in life. He explains that Jesus rising from the dead affirms the value of the physical:

‘But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders. 

Or one may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour, too.’

Join us for our new series!


Abraham is often referred to as the ‘Father of the Faith’. Actually, he is the father of three faiths! 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims and 20 million Jews all claim him as their spiritual father. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, Abraham is an important man to understand if you want to make sense of the world we live in.


More important than Abraham, however, is the God he worshipped. After all, Abraham died some 4000 years ago, but his God is Everlasting (Gen 21:33). He is the same yesterday, today and forever. As the spiritual children of Abraham, he is our God too (Gal 3:7)! Therefore, this term we will study our Everlasting God. In particular, we are going to discover what it looks like to trust in his word of promise.

To do this, we will walk with Abraham through Genesis 12-22 and learn from him as he learns to trust in the promises of God. It is a journey with lots of ups and downs. Abraham finds faith easy at first (Gen 12:1-4), but then he falters. His faith falters when the promises of God don’t match with the harsh realities of his life (chapters 12, 16 & 20). Throughout Abraham’s journey, God is gracious and kind, confirming his promises (chapter 15 and 17) and teaching him how to live in the gap between promise and reality.


Abraham is the exemplary man of faith in the Bible (Rom 4, Gal 3:6-14, Hebrews 11:8-19). So it is right for us to learn from him. That being said, if Abraham is only an example to be followed, he doesn’t offer much hope. For, despite his failures, who could live up to the example of Abraham? Thankfully, our salvation relies not on the strength of our faith, but in God’s faithfulness to his promises.

The Apostle Paul told the Galatians, God ‘announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you”’ (Gal 3:8). He is talking about Jesus Christ. To find faith in the promises of God, therefore, we ultimately to find faith in Jesus Christ. He is the one in whom all of God’s promises find their ‘yes’ (2 Cor 1:20). He is the one upon whom our salvation rests!

Join Us

So join us this term as we walk with Abraham through Genesis 12-22. Please ask God to use this series to help us find faith in our Everlasting God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to trust him as we live in the gap between promise and reality.

If you missed the first sermon in the series, listen to it now.

If you could say one thing – meet Brie

What would you say if you had the chance to communicate one important thing? Grace City brings you a new mini-series from members of the launch team, who share a message they think you need to hear. Today, Brie Pattison encourages us with one idea worth sharing.


If you could say one thing, what would it be?

A devastating and liberating truth: you can’t save yourself, but there is a saviour.

What excites you about joining Grace City?

I’m excited that Grace City is a new church for a new area. Our message might not be new, but everybody in Green Square needs to hear it and we have a chance to share it with the thousands who are here already and who will be moving in over the next few years.


What’s something you’d love to get involved in within Green Square?

I’ve just joined a Zumba class. It’s a combination of disco (with pumping music and strobe lights) and aerobics (with slightly less lycra). It’s a hilariously great way to spend Wednesday night.


What’s one reason the Gospel means so much to you?

I have always wanted to prove myself: to show that I am good enough, smart enough, able enough to do anything I want. I was devastated when I realised that the Gospel meant that I could never prove myself to God. At the same time, it was incredibly liberating to grasp that Jesus has already proven himself, and he stands in my place.


What’s something you’d love prayer for?

This year I’m studying the Bible full-time at Moore College. I’d love you to pray that God would shape my heart and mind as I do that each day.


Brie is a member of the Grace City team. If you are interested in joining us on Sundays, click here for more information.

Join us for our new series from John 5-12: On Trial

Starting May 1st (2 Sundays’s time) we will be starting our new sermon series in John 5-12 – On Trial. The series gets its name from the hostile interaction between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in these chapters. There are 3 vantage points from which these chapters can be read.


  1. The Jewish Leaders

They thought that they had Jesus On Trial. Here was a Rabbi who didn’t follow the Sabbath (5:16), claimed to be equal with God (5:18, 8:58), and called them children of the devil (8:44). Aware that he was on trial before the Jews, Jesus points to the Father (5:37), the Scriptures (5:39), and his miracles (10:38) as things that bear testimony to who he was. Despite this, the Pharisees argued that his testimony was not valid (8:13).

From their perspective, Jesus was a problem that had to be dealt with. Their ‘trial’ of Jesus ends with a decision to kill him:

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation…. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” (Jn 11:47-53)

  1. Jesus Perspective

In Jesus coming to earth, the world was also put On Trial. How would they respond to him? The Father had given him authority to judge (5:22) and so he testified that their works were evil (7:7). Yet despite constant evidence that he was God’s son, they failed to judge him correctly (7:24). In the end, it was their refusal to accept Jesus and his word that would bring the world’s trial to an end.

In condemning Jesus, they brought about their own condemnation:

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.” (John 12:47–48)

  1. The crowds

There is also a sense in which the crowds are in the jury seat watching these two trials unfold throughout these chapters. Three times we read that ‘the people were divided because of Jesus’ (7:43, 9:16, 10:19). Some believed in him; others rejected him. Some received life; others did not.

As we read these chapters we find ourselves beside the crowds in the courtroom. But we cannot simply watch as spectators. That privilege is not open to us. We are in the jury and so we are forced to pick a side. What will it be? Will we side with Jesus and believe in him for eternal life? Or will we side with the Jews and condemn ourselves by condemning Jesus? The choice is real- we are On Trial.