Vol. 5, No. 9
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Just mention the word parable and one name comes to mind. That name is Jesus. He alone is known for the simple, delightful and revealing narratives that made up so much of his teaching. Not even the inspired apostles attempted to major in parabolic preaching as Jesus had done before them.
The word "parable," comes from two Greek words, para, beside, and ballein, to throw; meaning, "a placing beside or together, a comparing, comparison: a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting a moral thought" (D.R. Dungan, Hermeneutics, p. 227). Jesus taught heavenly lessons from earthly stories.
With lessons as familiar as the parables of Jesus, sometimes people are inclined to try a different twist, or a new application heretofore unknown. For example, Christianity Today (10/26/98) featured, "Tales of the Prodigal," being an in-depth analysis of this famous parable. The editors wrote, "By approaching Jesus' parable from different angles, we hope to rediscover its many brilliant facets." The result of that determination made for some interesting reading, but left me realizing that in discovering its facets they had missed its point. What more do we really want or need to hear? The "scholars, preachers and writers" deduced many things that were not in the Savior's mind. No amount of scholarly revision can make these stories better news for twentieth-century sinners like us.