What is the meaning of the Parables of Jesus
The Parables of Jesus Christ are some of the most well-known and well-loved passages in the Bible. This resource page of The Parables of Jesus Explained is designed to help you bring Jesus’ messages into your heart and life. Each parable has a meaning that had context at the time Jesus spoke them, but they still apply to life today. Our List of Parables and Their Meaning downloadable pdf is a free printable resource you can use to get a good overview of the meaning of the parables.
The Parables of Jesus Christ are some of the most well-known and well-loved passages in the Bible. This resource page of The Parables of Jesus Explained is designed to help you bring Jesus’ messages into your heart and life.
- What is the meaning of the Parables of Jesus
- What is a Parable?
- Why did Jesus speak in parables?
- Are parables still relevant today?
- What do the Parables of Jesus teach us?
- How many Parables of Jesus are there?
- What are Jesus's most famous parables?
- What are the 38 Parables of Jesus?
- The Parables of Jesus List
- Parables of Jesus List and Meaning – pdf
- Parables of Jesus – Lessons for Children
- Lessons from the Parables of Jesus Christ
- If you love the parables
What is a Parable?
Oxford Dictionary defines a parable as a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. The parables describe ordinary circumstances and situations that people can understand easily, but their moral lessons teach us how to live as faithful Christians, as God intended.
Jesus used parables to teach the people about God’s Kingdom and the way to salvation. At first, the stories (parables) he tells may not seem to have anything to do with God or salvation.
Why did Jesus speak in parables?
The disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables in Matthew 13:10. His short answer is in Matthew 13:13 NIV. The whole conversation is: Matthew 13:10-17.
This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
The people weren’t open to God’s message and most were skeptical of Jesus. His messages were unpopular because they challenged people to change in ways they didn’t want to. Jesus chose to teach using parables because it was simpler for people to understand stories about familiar situations than about the abstract afterlife and judgment of God. Even so, the meaning of the parables could be difficult to grasp. To help you extract the most value, each parable is broken down into life lessons below.
Are parables still relevant today?
Sometimes we can’t see how the parables are relevant to us today. But be assured that every parable applies and speaks to each of us today. They provide directions to help us navigate the journey to eternal salvation. God’s expectations never change and the journey to reach Him never changes.
I pray you will take the time to learn more about the spiritual meaning and lessons in the parables that Jesus spoke for your benefit so long ago. He’s inviting you to walk down the path to salvation. Will you accept his invitation?
Parables of Jesus Devotional Book – Coming Soon!
What do the Parables of Jesus teach us?
Each parable teaches us about living a life that’s pleasing to God. Typically each parable includes several takeaways that apply to all of us. In the following articles, we offer ways in which the message and meaning in the parables can help keep you on the path to eternal life with Jesus.
How many Parables of Jesus are there?
With the various bible translations and how a parable is defined, the number of parables of Jesus is debatable. For example, if we use the New International Version (NIV) and consider the stories that are identified as parables in the Bible heading sections, then there are 24 Parables of Jesus.
This may vary per other Bible translations and there are other stories included that might also be considered parables, such as Jesus cursing the fig tree and the barren fig tree, which aren’t included as Parable headings in the NIV translation.
What are Jesus’s most famous parables?
As of 2023, the Top 5 most commonly searched Parables of Jesus are the following, in order of internet search volume.
- Parable of the Talents
- Parable of the Prodigal Son (Parable of the Lost Son)
- Parable of the Lost Sheep
- Parable of the Good Samaritan
- Parable of the Lost Coin
What are the 38 Parables of Jesus?
Thirty-eight seems to be the most settled-upon number of the Parables of Jesus, although there are slight variations in what those parables actually are. In my Parables of Jesus list below, you will find 39 parables of Jesus, as I’ve included any that have been noted as parables in the Gospels.
The Parables of Jesus List
The list below gives you a Bible verse reference, a summary of each parable, and a link to the Parable lessons for us today. The Parables of Jesus are ordered alphabetically in the list according to the most popular name, although their alternative names are also included.
38 Parables of Jesus List and Their Meanings
|Parable||Reference||Parables of Jesus Meaning/Summary||Lesson|
|Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree, Unfruitful Tree)||Luke 13:6||God is generous, slow to anger, and shows mercy. However, we shouldn’t count on His patience to be endless. He has expectations that we will bear fruit at some point for His Kingdom by following Him. At some point, the barren trees will be cut down.||HERE|
|Cost of Being a Disciple, Counting the Cost, The Cost of Discipleship, The Cost of Following Jesus||Luke 14:25|
|Following Jesus comes at a cost. For some, the cost is actually their life. For others, the cost is potentially the loss of family or friends, or denying our earthly pleasures. The choice to follow at the potential cost is ours. (But it’s worth it!)||HERE|
|Parable of the Faithful Servant (Wise and Foolish Servants)||Matthew 24:45|
|The return of Christ and His final judgment will be a surprise – at an unknown day and time. His wise and faithful servants will stay faithful to Christ until He returns, whereas the foolish servants will grow weary of waiting and turn to worldly ways, then face harsh punishment when Christ returns unannounced.||HERE|
|Parable of the Fig Tree||Matthew 24:30|
|Pay attention to the signs of the time around you, because the end will come. Keep yourself prepared for the coming judgment by refraining from the ways of the world and following Christ instead.||HERE|
|Parable of the Friend at Midnight (Friend in Need)||Luke 11:5||Jesus promises that when we approach Him with shameless audacity, He will listen and answer. He welcomes us to come to Him with all our wants and needs. He promises to open the door when we knock.||HERE|
|Parable of the Good |
|Luke 10:25||Christians have the love of Jesus written in their hearts. They act upon Jesus’ directive to love one another no matter the circumstances or the inconvenience.||HERE|
|Parable of the Good Shepherd||John 10:1||Jesus is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep, who can trust Him with our lives. He gave His life for our salvation, so if we just keep listening to Him and following His voice, He will protect us.||HERE|
|Parable of the Great Banquet (Banquet)||Luke 14:15||The poor and the lowly are as welcome to God’s kingdom as the rich and great. An invitation is extended to all and those who accept it enjoy the reward.||HERE|
|Parable of the Growing Seed||Mark 4:26||The Kingdom of God expands within the world, beginning with the Word of Christ that sprouts within a person’s soul, gradually growing by grace until it matures and springs outward and forward.||HERE|
|Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Buried Treasure)||Matthew 13:44||Many people know the Word of God only at a surface level – a superficial relationship with God. Those who choose to dig deep into the Word uncover the valuable treasure that a life lived in step with the Lord brings.||HERE|
|Parable of the Householder (Owner of the House, House Owner)||Matthew 13:52||As Christians, old and new experiences, teachings, and learning all have a useful purpose for our spiritual growth. We need to keep refreshing ourselves on the lessons to keep growing.||HERE|
|Parable of the Lamp on a Stand (Lamp)||Matthew 5:15|
|Our light for Christ must shine. It isn’t intended to be hidden within us. As Christians, we should exude Christ’s light with our words and actions.||HERE|
|Parable of the Lost Coin||Luke 15:8||One lost coin is a lost soul that God will work endlessly to bring back to Him and rejoices in their return.||HERE|
|Parable of the Lost Sheep (Wandering Sheep)||Matthew 18:10|
|Christ is earnest in bringing lost sinners home, even when the lost aren’t interested in returning. Our Father wants all His children to be saved.||HERE|
|Parable of the Lowest Seat (Parable of Honor, Place of Honor, Take the Lowest Seat, Lowest Seat at the Feast)||Luke 14:8||Jesus led by example as a role model for our lives. As such, He expects His followers to be humble servants and not pompous, prideful boasters who seek out public recognition.||HERE|
|Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lost Son)||Luke 15:11||The Lord welcomes repentant sinners with open arms when they turn back to Him.||HERE|
|Parable of the Master and Servant||Luke 17:7||We are God’s servants and must remain humble in our service to Him. When we do as He asks, we are only doing our duty and should not expect a reward.||HERE|
|Parable of the Moneylender (Two Debtors)||Luke 7:41||Our sin is a debt we owe to God and Christ paid the debt for our sins so that we might be saved. The greater the sin forgiven, the more grateful the sinner should be, but all sin is forgiven equally and freely with repentance.||HERE|
|Parable of the Mustard Seed||Mark 4:30|
|The Kingdom of God begins with the tiniest seed of faith that, when nurtured with care, grows into an enormous tree of life.||HERE|
|Parable of the Net (Fishing Net)||Matthew 13:47||The Gospel is the net thrown into the sea of people. Some will accept The Word and those who don’t are sorted out and rejected.||HERE|
|Parable of the Pearl (Pearl of Great Price, Great Pearl)||Matthew 13:45||People are tempted by fake pearls that the world offers. When we search out the Kingdom of Heaven (a true pearl) and realize its priceless value, everything else becomes worthless in our eyes.||HERE|
|Parable of the Persistent Widow (Judge and the Widow, Unjust Judge, Importunate Widow)||Luke 18:1||The unjust judge relented after being pestered time and again by the woman for justice. How much more will our faithful and just God grant us when we come to Him regularly and faithfully?||HERE|
|Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Two Men Who Prayed)||Luke 18:9||God’s glory is to resist the proud and give grace to the humble.||HERE|
|Parable of the Rich Fool||Luke 12:13||A fool prioritizes greed and wealth over his relationship with God. Eventually, the time available to strengthen our relationship with God will run out.||HERE|
|Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus||Luke 16:19||This parable summarizes Jesus’ teaching that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’. The rich man had been given much in life, but he had no care or concern for the poor (namely Lazarus). In the afterlife, the rich man was punished for his lack of care for the poor, while Lazarus now reaped rewards for what he lacked in life. The rich man wanted to warn his family and friends so they wouldn’t suffer the same fate, but everything they need to know is already written in Scripture. We have had a fair warning! The only question is whether we will heed it or ignore it.||HERE|
|Parable of the Shrewd Manager||Luke 16:1||What we have in life is from God and we’re liable to use these gifts for God’s honor and glory. We’re called to be shrewd stewards in sharing and spreading God’s kingdom so that His gifts are not wasted.||HERE|
|Parable of the Sower (Four Soils)||Matthew 13:1 Mark 4:1|
|God’s Word will only flourish and thrive when it reaches the hearts of faithful people who are willing to absorb and grow it. It withers and dies on the hearts of the evil, the uncommitted, the worldly, and the hypocrites.||HERE|
|Parable of the Talents (Gold |
Coins/Minas/Ten Minas/Bags of Gold)
|God’s gifts are given freely with the expectation that we will use them for His goodness according to our ability. We will all account for our actions according to the gifts and advantages we’ve received.||HERE|
|Parable of the Tenants (Wicked Tenants, Wicked Vinedressers, Husbandmen, Evil Tenants, Evil Farmers)||Matthew 21:33|
|As people treat others, they treat Christ. Christ’s followers should expect ill treatment from those who oppose Him. God will judge the opponents harshly. As for us, be generous with our fruits (gifts).||HERE|
|Parable of the Ten Virgins (Virgins, Bridesmaids, Bridegroom)||Matthew 25:1||Be ready and prepared for the day of Christ’s coming. Ensure your lamp of faith is burning brightly with plenty of grace for fuel. Nurture your soul for Christ and don’t let carelessness make you unprepared.||HERE|
|Parable of the Two Sons||Matthew 21:28||Both sons act poorly, but the first changed his mind and ultimately did the will of his father. The second paid only lip service with no repentance and no action. Our repentance and turning to God is the key to salvation.||HERE|
|Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Unmerciful Servant)||Matthew 18:21||We’re too sinful to atone for our sins, but through God’s grace, our debts/sins are forgiven. As our debts are forgiven, we must forgive.||HERE|
|Parable of the Watchful Servants (Watchman, Waiting Servants)||Mark 13:32|
|Keep watch (stay diligent in our faith) while we wait for our Master (Christ) to return. We don’t know the day or the hour, so be ready and prepared for when He comes, even if during the night.||HERE|
|Parable of the Wedding Feast (Wedding Banquet, Feast)||Matthew 22:1||The first people invited to the feast represented the Jews, God’s chosen people of the time. When they didn’t come, the doors were opened for all the others, as God’s arms are open to all. Hypocrites (with improper wedding clothing) will find themselves locked out of God’s Kingdom.||HERE|
|Parable of the Weeds||Matthew 13:24||God created the good in the world and the devil sows evil that sinful people tend and make grow. We live in a world mixed with this good and bad and God will separate them when His judgment is made.||HERE|
|Parable of the Wineskins (Cloth and Wineskins, New Wine Old Wineskins, New Cloth Old Garment, New Patch Old Garment/Coat)||Matthew 9:16|
|The prior religious teachings would be undergoing change with Jesus’ death and resurrection. It would mean new ways were emerging that might seem incompatible with the old, but should be introduced to new converts as they were able to understand.||HERE|
|Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Two Builders, Builder, House on the Rock)||Matthew 7:24|
|Those who listen to Jesus and apply His instructions can withstand anything that comes their way. Those who choose not to listen or apply the teachings will struggle and crumble under the weight of worldly troubles.||HERE|
|Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard||Matthew 20:1||When God gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, not an injustice to us. God is fair and merciful, welcoming everyone.||HERE|
|Parable of the Yeast||Matthew 13:33 |
|A small amount of God’s Word that is mixed into the soul spreads and grows slowly and unnoticeably, but with strength and without fail, changing a person from within.||HERE|
Parables of Jesus List and Meaning – pdf
Are you looking for a list of parables and their meaning? Our List of Parables and Their Meaning downloadable pdf is a resource for yourself, your family, classroom, or ministry. This instant download has NO email SIGN-UP!
Use our parable lessons below to learn how to apply the parables to your life. Our lessons add more depth and context to the meaning of the parables.
Parables of Jesus – Lessons for Children
Our parable explanations have been used effectively as the basis for children’s parable lessons. I invite you to use the concepts to design your lessons according to the understanding of your children.
I’d also love to hear what tools or resources would make this easier for you. I’ve created a comprehensive Parable of the Mustard Seed Bundle for Youth and Parable of the Prodigal Son Youth Bundles that include a lesson, coloring pages, and other activities. Lessons and activities for other parables are underway. Check out the current packages and let me know what you think!
Lessons from the Parables of Jesus Christ
- The Cost of Being a Disciple Life LessonsThe Cost of Being a Disciple is sometimes referred to as one of the Parables of Jesus. This parable is also known as Counting the Cost, The Cost of Discipleship, or The Cost of Following Jesus. These parables offer eye-opening …
- 5 Parable of the Good Samaritan LessonsThe Good Samaritan Parable is a popular and powerful New Testament Bible story that teaches the foundation of what it means to live a Christian life. It’s the example Jesus used when He was asked what the greatest commandment is. …
- The Parable of the Prodigal Son Life LessonsThe Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible (also known as the Parable of the Lost Son) is one of the well-known parables of Jesus and teaches us life lessons for a beautiful Christian journey. The beauty of the …
- Take the Lowest Seat Parable Life LessonsThe Parable of the Lowest Seat The Parable of the Lowest seat is also known as the Parable of Honor, Place of Honor, Take the Lowest Seat, and Lowest Seat at the Feast. This parable is included in one Gospel, …
- Parable of the Watchful Servants Life LessonsThe Parable of the Watchful Servants is also known as the Parable of the Watchmen and Parable of the Waiting Servants. This parable of Jesus is a reminder about the end times and is included in two Gospels of the …
- Parable of the Master and Servant Life LessonsThe Parable of the Master and Servant is a good reminder for all of His people of His expectations. Heeding the message in this parable will keep us from falling into the sinful state of self-righteousness. Master and Servant Parable …
- Parable of the Friend at Midnight Life LessonsThe Parable of the Friend at Midnight is also known as the Parable of the Friend at Night, the Parable of the Friend in Need, and the Parable of the Persistent Friend. The Parable of the Friend at Night is …
- Parable of the Householder Life LessonsJesus often spoke in parables to give lessons to His followers. Sometimes their meaning is fairly obvious and other times, it’s more hidden. The Parable of the Householder (also known as the Parable of the House Owner and the Parable …
- Parable of the Two Debtors Life LessonsThe Parable of the Two Debtors is also known as the Parable of the Debtor or the Parable of the Money Lender. It’s included in one of four Gospels, Luke 7:41. At the surface level, it seems like this is …
- Parable of the Lamp Life LessonsThe Parable of the Lamp is also known as the Parable of the Lamp on a Stand or the Parable of the Lamp Under a Bowl. It’s included in three of the four Gospels, Matthew 5:15, Mark 4:21, and Luke …
- Parable of the Faithful Servant Life LessonsSome of Jesus’ parables describe the end times – when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. The world, as we know it, will end. The Parable of the Faithful Servant (sometimes known as the Parable of …
- Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders LessonsThe Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders is also known as the Parable of the Two Builders, the Parable of the Builder, and the Parable of the House on the Rock. The Parable of the Two Builders is found …
- Parable of the Wineskins Spiritual LessonsThe Parable of the Wineskins (sometimes known as the Parable of the New Wine in Old Wineskins) is a confusing one. It doesn’t help that the term wineskin and the historic winemaking process aren’t well known today. But we’re going …
- Parable of the Good Shepherd Bible LessonsThe Parable of the Good Shepherd is also known as the Parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep. This parable is included in one Gospel of the Bible, in the Book of John, Chapter 10. The parable itself is …
- Lazarus and the Rich Man Parable Life LessonsThe Lazarus and the Rich Man Parable is also known as the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus or the Parable of the Rich Man Who Wanted to Enter Heaven. This parable is included in one Gospel of the …
- Parables of the Fig Tree Life LessonsThe Parables of the Fig Tree can get a little confusing because there are three mentions in the Gospels about Fig Trees. But that’s okay because all Parable of the Fig Tree versions are discussed below! I’ll refer to them …
- The Parable of the Tenants Life LessonsThe Parable of the Bad Tenants is included in three Gospels in the Bible; Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It can be found specifically in Matthew 21:33-44 NIV, Mark 12:1-12 NIV, and Luke 20:9-19 NIV. You can also jump straight to …
- The Parable of the Growing SeedThe Parable of the Growing Seed is sometimes known as the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly. It is included in one Gospel of the New Testament, in the Book of Mark 4:26-29 NIV. You can read the Parable of …
- Parable of the Net Life LessonsThe Parable of the Net is included in one Gospel in the New Testament, in the Book of Matthew 13:47-50. Sometimes this parable is referred to as the Parable of the Fishing Net or the Parable of the Net Cast …
- Parable of the Wedding Feast Life LessonsThe Parable of the Wedding Feast is also known as the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. This parable of Jesus is found in one Gospel in the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Matthew 22:1-14. You can read …
- Parable of the Unforgiving Servant Life LessonsThe Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Parable of the Unmerciful Servant) The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant is also known as the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant and is included in one Gospel in the Bible, Matthew 18: 21-35. You …
- Parable of the Yeast Life Lessons for TodayThe Parable of the Yeast (Parable of the Leaven) The Parable of the Yeast is also known as the Parable of the Leaven and is included in two Gospels in the Bible. The Books of Luke (Luke 13 20-21) and …
- Parable of the Shrewd Manager Life Lessons For TodayThe Parable of the Dishonest Manager The Parable of the Shrewd Manager is also known as the Parable of the Unjust Steward and the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. This parable is included in one of the four Gospels in …
- The Parable of the Great Banquet LessonsThe Parable of the Great Banquet The Parable of the Great Banquet is included in one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. It is in Luke 14:15-24 NIV. The Parable of the Great Banquet is also known as …
- The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price LessonsThe Parable of the Pearl The Parable of the Pearl is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price or The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value. This parable is included in only one of …
- Lessons from the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax CollectorParable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (an ancient Roman term for tax collector). This parable is …
- The Parable of the Persistent WidowParable of the Persistent Widow and Unjust Judge The Parable of the Persistent Widow is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Unjust Judge or the Parable of the Importunate Widow. This parable is found in the New Testament …
- The Parable of the Weeds – 4 Sobering Life LessonsThe Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat The Parable of the Weeds is also known as the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat, the Parable of the Weeds and Wheat, and the Parable of the Weeds and the …
- The Parable of Two Sons – 3 Spiritual Life LessonsThe Parable of the Two Sons is included in the New Testament of the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew 21:28-32. This Parable of the Two Sons is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Obedient and Disobedient Sons, …
- Parable of the Lost Coin Spiritual LessonsParable of the Lost Coin Summary The Parable of the Lost Coin is found in the Bible in the Book of Luke 15:8-10. In it, a woman loses one of ten silver coins and keeps searching until she finds the …
- 3 Lessons from the Parable of the Vineyard WorkersThe Parable of the Vineyard Workers is also known as the Parable of the Vineyard, the Parable of the Vineyard Owner, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, and the Parable of Laborers in the Vineyard. This parable is …
- 3 Life Lessons from the Parable of the Rich FoolThe title of the Parable of the Rich Fool (also known as the Parable of the Rich Man) might make many people assume the parable doesn’t apply to them if they aren’t millionaires or independently wealthy. But the Parable of …
- 4 Moral Lessons from The Parable of the Ten VirginsThe Parable of the Ten Virgins is also known as the Parable of the Bridesmaids. It is based on Jewish marriage customs at the time the parable was written. The Parable of the 10 Virgins is filled with Christian symbolism …
- Which soil are you like? The Parable of the Sower explainedWhen Jesus spoke in parables, they were sometimes confusing and difficult to put into relatable terms. However, in the case of the Parable of the Sower (also known as the Parable of the Four Soils), understanding the meaning is easier! …
- 3 Parable of the Lost Sheep Lessons Show Jesus’ LoveThe Parable of the Lost Sheep in the Bible is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Wandering Sheep. This well-known parable is included in the Gospels of Matthew 18:10-14 and Luke 15:1-7. This profound parable used an example …
- The Parable of the Talents Meaning and 5 Life LessonsThe Parable of the Talents might seem confusing at first, but it contains poignant life lessons for every Christian. The Parable of the Talents is also known by various other names, such as The Parable of the Bags of Gold, …
- 4 Parable of the Hidden Treasure LessonsThe parables of Jesus include beautiful lessons for Christians, but sometimes their meaning might be hard to understand. One example is the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure is sometimes referred to as the Parable …
- 6 Lessons from Mustard Seed FaithGrow Your Mustard Seed Faith Are you trying to grow the faith of a mustard seed? Whether you’re a gardener or not, you’ve probably planted seeds at some point in your life. It’s fascinating to see the first tender sprouts …
If you love the parables
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