Jesus used parables frequently in his teachings. In biblical essence, parables are comparisons that illustrate some spiritual truths or meaning.
Some of the best known parables of Jesus are featured in this article: The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, The Sheep and the Goats, The Pharisee and the Tax Collector, and The Talents. They are found in the Gospels of the New Testament.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Considered the best-known parable of Jesus is the parable of the good Samaritan, told following his command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked by a Jewish teacher, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told a story of a man who was beaten by robbers and left for dead. A priest and a Levite (representing the Jewish faith) passed by and did nothing, but a Samaritan (belonging to a group of people the Jews despised) stopped, cared for him and carried him to an inn. Jesus then asked, “Which of these three do you think is the neighbor of the man?” The Jewish teacher replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Jesus responded, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 25-37.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
This is another famous parable of Jesus about the lost son with a message of forgiveness. One of the sons asked for his share of inheritance and squandered it aimlessly. Realizing what he wrongly did, he returned home to a happy father who immediately forgave him. The other son who was always lived rightly was not impressed at the turn of events, but the father told him that he should be glad instead that his reckless brother had returned. Luke 15: 11-32.
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
Jesus figured himself as a shepherd separating a flock, that is, sheep on the righteous side, goats on the unrighteous. He thanked the sheep for giving him food, clothing and shelter. The sheep were surprised why Jesus was thanking them. He answered, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” And he said to the goats, “depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil… In as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” The goats learned that loving Godinvolves day to day acts of human kindness. Matthew 25: 31-46.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
In this parable, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for being hypocritical and proud. Two men prayed in the temple, the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer was self-congratulatory: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” On the other hand, the tax collector, aware of his sins, could only say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus explained in a familiar often-quoted verse: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18: 10-14.
The Parable of the Talents
Jesus told the story of a man who goes on a journey. Before leaving, he gives each of his servants money or talent, the unit of currency during the time. He gave five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to the third tenant. The first and second servants managed to double their talents. The third servant had no gains, having buried his talent in the ground. Jesus teaches that God will reward those who are productive, act responsibly and use wisdom appropriately. Matthew 25: 14-30.