Jesus often taught with parables. Early in his ministry, Jesus spoke these parables to a crowd beside the Sea of Galilee.
What is a parable?
A parable is a short story or illustration drawn from the physical world to explain spiritual matters.
The Greek word for parable literally means "to place beside." Parables illuminate spiritual truths by placing them in an earthly context.
Parables are not fables
The parables of Jesus are based on events that can occur in the natural world. Fables often employ talking animals or other whimsical elements that violate natural laws.
Purpose of parables
It was prophesied that Jesus would teach with parables. He used parables to both reveal and to conceal the truth.
Receptive believers understood that the parables had spiritual application, and could therefore unlock their secret truths. Unbelievers did not share this insight, and consequently misunderstood the parables.
The opponents of Jesus had difficulty refuting the few parables they understood. Matthew 15:10-20 records a parable that the Pharisees understood but could not refute.
The following text is taken from Matthew 13:1-53. Mark 4:1-34 and Luke 8:4-18 contain parallel accounts.