Luke's Gospel and The Teachings of Jesus Through Parables

Luke's Gospel and The Teachings of Jesus Through Parables

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Luke's Gospel and The Teachings of Jesus Through Parables


Introduction
------------

The coursework is about the parables that Jesus taught to his
disciples and to anyone else who wanted to learn about the kingdom of
God. It is also about the kingdom of God, topics about this include
how to get in to the Kingdom of God, what it is, and what it means to
a Christian.

Parables covered in this coursework include:

* The good Samaritan

* The lost coin

* The lost son

* The narrow door

* The parable about the coming of the Kingdom of God

Each of these can be found in Luke's gospel and they each have a
particular meaning that means a great deal in Christians lives today.

When you read this piece of coursework you will learn what a parable
is and how they differ from allegories. Also why Jesus taught in
parables and how this technique helped the people that he taught to
understand the topics that he covered at a deeper lever than they
would have done if he had just told them the meanings of the stories.
Also how parables affect peoples lives today, even though they were
made up over two thousand years ago.

Ai) What is meant by the term parable?

What is a parable?

A parable is a story that conveys a teaching. The parables in the
gospel are a unique development of literary form whose roots come from
the Old Testament. The word "parable" originates from a Greek work,
"parabole", meaning simplitude or comparison. The definition from the
Collins English Dictionary of a parable is "a story that illustrates a
religious meaning." A parable has been described as "an earthly story
with a heavenly meaning"

Why did Jesus teach in parables?

In Jesus' teachings, He uses parables to teach his people how to live
their lives. He does this by comparing life on earth to the kingdom of

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God. To help people understand, He used examples of people in everyday
life to base his stories on, so that the people to whom he was
teaching could relate to what he was saying and use the meanings of
the parables in their everyday lives. He mainly told them stories
because many people at this time were illiterate. Jesus helped them to
understand by making His stories short, simple and easy to comprehend,
however He didn't make His parables too easy.

Even though parables are straightforward, you would have to think
about their meaning. Jesus encourages people to think for themselves
in his parables; he does this by ending the parable with a question.
This proved to be useful to Jesus, because by doing this he provoked a
response from the listeners and therefore they were more likely to
remember his teachings.

"He would not speak to them without using a parable". This quote from
Matthew 13:34 proves to us that Jesus taught his people in parables.
Over a third of Jesus' teachings were parables as people understood
them and were able to use their meanings in everyday life.

What is the difference between a parable and an allegory?

Quite often, people mix up the definitions of parables and allegories,
even though their meanings are completely different it is easy to see
why some people make this mistake. The definition of an allegory, from
the Collins English dictionary is "a story with an underlying meaning
as well as a literal one".

An allegory is very similar to a riddle, unlike a parable it has a
hidden meaning. With an allegory, the story had to be decoded in order
to understand the meaning. This technique isn't necessary when you try
to find the teachings in parables, as they have meanings that are more
obvious than those in allegories.

Aii) Describe from Luke's gospel how Jesus presented his teachings
through parables.

The main theme in the parables is the same as the central theme of the
Gospels are, the kingdom of God. The kingdom is only available to
those who love God and live according to His rule. The Kingdom of God
is for a chosen few, those who are willing to accept God's rules and
are willing to live their live in the way that Our Lord and Jesus
Christ taught us to.

Jews used the phrase, kingdom of God, to refer to the power and
authority that God has. They never used it to mean an earthly kingdom,
in the sense of a land area that was ruled by God, as we do today.

When is the kingdom of God going to be relevant to us?

The kingdom of God isn't something extraordinary to come one day in
the future, it is here and now. If you died today and had lived your
live the way God had taught us Christians to and love Our lord with
all your heart and soul, strength and might, then you would go to the
Kingdom of God. It is also present in the sense that God's teaching
were taught over 2,000 years ago and Christians today still learn
about God's teachings and adapt their meanings in their everyday
lives. Therefore, God is guiding his people at all times as His
teachings are influencing people to do good deeds and help each other
everyday. However, it is in the future also, in the sense that God
will be accepted by the whole world and his rule will be established
all over the world.

Jews believed that God controlled the forces of nature, Israelites as
his chosen people and also the destiny of all other nations. Some Jews
looked forward to the future when God would send an anointed one, a
messiah, someone to be an ideal representative of God for people to
look up to and learn things from. They also looked forward to a day
when God's power and authority would be recognized, and respected all
over the world, and His rule would be all over earth. Jesus questioned
this theory and said that such a moment had arrived, actually talking
about Himself as the representative of God as He was God's son. In
Luke 4:17-19, Jesus quoted the scriptures, the prophet Isaiah, as He
often did, saying that the messiah would bring:

"Good news to the poor………….proclaim release for prisoners and recovery
of sight for the blind..…to proclaim a year of the Lord's favour....."

Another way of interpreting this would be " proclaim the kingdom of
God". In this quote Jesus, as He did most times, used a quote from the
scriptures to teach people to spread the word and kingdom of God so
that everyone on Earth knows about it, and so therefore so that more
people would be saved from sin.

The meaning of the Kingdom of God for us today and what relevance it
has to us.

The idea of the kingdom of God is still relevant for Christians today
even though this specific term is not widely used. They still believe
that the kingdom of God is present in men and women's individual lives
everyday.

Some people say and believe that to be a part of a church community,
automatically means that you are a part of the Kingdom of God. Others
claim that this isn't exactly the truth. These men and women believe
that the kingdom of God goes way beyond simply belonging to any
specific church. They people believe that that the kingdom of God is
to do with the whole person as some people can go to church and
worship to God, but as soon as they leave they could turn to crime and
breaking God's rules sent down to earth in the form of the ten
commandments. It doesn't matter when the parables of the kingdom of
God were intended for; whether they are set in everyday live of over
two thousand years ago, they are still important for people's lives
today as the teachings behind the parables remain the same.

Some teachings conveyed in parables are:

* The teachings about love

* Forgiveness

* To love your neighbour

* To have faith in God and to love God

* And how to get in to the kingdom of God and what the kingdom of
God is.

Some of these teachings are portrayed in parables such as, the coming
of the kingdom of God and the parable of the narrow door.



The parable of the coming of the Kingdom of God
===============================================

The parable of the coming of the kingdom of God is in Luke 17:20 - 35,
in this Jesus talks about the kingdom in the present and future sense,
however Jesus puts more emphasis on the future when teaching this
parable to the disciples. He says that the kingdom will come in the
future and also that the kingdom of God is already here, within God's
people on Earth. He uses examples such as Noah and the ark, and Sodom
and Gommorrah to relate the meaning of this parable in to something in
which people can relate to and understand.

When using the future tense in this story, he tells his disciples that
one day the son of Man will come, it will be a day when people will be
completely unaware of what or who he is. By doing this he is advising
them to live every moment on Earth to its full potential and to treat
everyone, as they themselves would like to be treated. Therefore when
the future day comes, they will be ready to be received by the Son of
God.



The parable of the narrow door
==============================

This parable can be found in Luke 13: 22-30. This parable, like
others, is in response to a question asked to Jesus. As on other
occasions also, Jesus answers the question indirectly, by asking the
disciples what they think, this as we have learnt provoked a response
and therefore making them think about and evaluate His teachings in
greater detail, and so helping them to remember it more clearly and
more concisely.

In this parable Jesus tells them not to take entry into the Kingdom
lightly, as many people will be excluded. They have to make an effort
to make it through the "narrow door" as there will be a day when that
door will be shut and entry into he Kingdom of God will be denied.
This story helped many people to realize not to assume that they were
going into the kingdom of God easily and to take their eternal future
seriously and not to be presumptuous and ignorant to the fact that
they may not get in.

B) Discuss the meaning and relevance of parables to the belief and
life of Christians today.

Even though the parables were made up over 2,000 years ago, they are
still relevant in people's lives today as they teach us some very
valuable lessons. Parables such as the Good Samaritan, the lost son
and the parable of the lost coin teach us some important lessons, all
of which should be used in a Christian's everyday life. The parable of
the Good Samaritan teaches us to love our neighbour, the parable of
the lost son teaches us to always forgive and the parable of the lost
coin teaches us not to be selfish.



The parable of the Good Samaritan
=================================

In this parable, a teacher of the law questions Jesus. The teacher
asks Jesus how he could get in to heaven, Jesus replies by loving your
God and your neighbour. The teacher continues and asks him who his
neighbour is and Jesus tells him a story of a Jew who was beaten up,
robbed and left for dead on the side of the road, and when he asked
for help by a priest and a Levite, hey both refused to help. However
when he asked the Samaritan for help, he cleaned his wounds, and took
him to an inn and paid for him to stay the night, ensuring that the
Jew was safe and in good care. At the time, the Jews and the
Samaritans were sworn enemies and yet the Samaritan took pity on him
and helped him when he was in need. Jesus then explained to the
teacher that his neighbour was anyone around him, his brother, his
friend, and even his enemy.

What has this parable got to do with Christians today?

The Ten Commandments can be summed up in two rules, love your
neighbour and love your God. Christians see in this parable to love
every individual as a neighbour, irrespective of race, sex, class or
religion and to have respect towards everyone and to treat people how
they themselves would like to be treated. There can be no room for
prejudice in dealing with people through the eyes of a Christian. All
forms of prejudice and discrimination are not welcomed in the
Christian faith. The claims of the Kingdom of God state that all
people must be treated the same and held in the same esteem. This
parable is the basis of Christians working for justice and to relieve
pain from anyone and everyone.

The parable of the lost son

In this story there is a man who had two sons. One day the sons asked
for their inheritance money from him and he gave it to them. With his
money, the younger of the sons left home and decided to spend his
money recklessly and soon had no money left, suddenly finding himself
poor, he was forced to get a job working with pigs, while doing this
he realizes that even his fathers servants had a better quality of
life and earned more money. From this, he decided to go back home and
tried to get a job as one of his fathers servants, he didn't want his
father to think of him as a son anymore because he had been so selfish
and irresponsible with his money, he just wanted him to forgive him
and give him a job. He had reached a point of repentance (in Greek
this word is "motanoia" which means change of heart).

Whilst on his way home, his father spotted him and got things ready
for his welcome home. Once he arrived, the youngest son apologized for
being so careless with his money and begged for a job in the house.

Without hesitation, the father forgives him for being so foolish with
his money, and makes his son take his clothes off and replaces them
with a fine new robe and shoes, he placed a ring on his finger and he
killed his prize calf and feasted on it with him and his other son
that night.

How is this story relevant to people today?

This story is relevant to people today because when we see how quickly
the father forgives his son, we can learn how to do this also and we
can do it in our everyday lives. In this story Jesus is saying that
God forgives the sinner absolutely and there are never any strings
attached. We Christians sometimes get in the position that the younger
son was in when we are totally lost and not knowing what to do, but we
know that there is always someone there that can help us, in this
story the saviour was the father, but for us it can be our parents or
God or any one that we can trust such as our friends of family.

God will only forgive someone when they know that they are wrong and
asks for forgiveness.

The parable of the lost coin

This teaching about the lost coin is about a woman who is poor and
only has ten coins. When she loses one of them she searches everywhere
for it until she acquires it once again. And when she does, she
rejoices with her friends as she has found something that means so
much to her and is so valuable to her.

What is its relevance to Christians today and the Kingdom of God?

In this story the coin that the woman finds is a metaphor for god
finding us once again after we has sinned then repented. God does this
because he loves everyone of us and we are each very "valuable" to
him. In this story, the woman rejoices when she find it once again,
this has great relevance to the kingdom of God because there is
rejoicing in heaven when a lost person is found (when a sinner
repents).

Without learning the meanings of these parables, and acting upon them,
we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.



C) "The parables are no longer relevant for life today"
=======================================================

Do you agree?

This argument can sway either way. In some respects this statement is
true and in others it is not.

How can it be false?

It can be false when you consider the fact that Jesus sacrificed his
life for us and therefore why would he waste his whole life if there
were no point in his teachings? He died to save everyone on earth, not
just those who were alive at the same time as he was. Also generally
people haven't changed much and peoples attitudes towards things have
mainly stayed the same and therefore if the parables were intended for
people who lived over two thousand years ago, people today should
still be able to relate to them if they alter the story so that it has
more in common with their lives now. The meaning behind the story
remains the same and can still be used in people's lives today.

How it can be true?

It can also be true because many people live their lives according to
the moral guidelines set by the bible. For example many people respect
and obey the Ten Commandments. Even though people don't always
consciously choose to follow these rules they do it instinctively
without realising.

There are people who feel that the parables are outdated as they were
created over two thousand years ago and since then society has changed
dramatically. Even though the meanings and teachings behind the
parables can still remain to be true, such as "love your neighbour",
people usually do this anyway as they develop feelings and emotions
towards someone, this remains the same no matter who it is whether it
is a friend, relative or someone such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The only part of this particular teaching that normally doesn't get
used in everyday live is to love your enemy, if someone is mean and
horrible to you, most people are mean and horrible back, just to show
that that person can't get to you. There are also exceptions to this,
as it has to be within proportion. If someone trips you up
deliberately and the next day you see them dying on the floor, you
would still help them, because what they had inflicted on you is minor
compared to what they are going through.

However there are always exceptions to the rule and people follow
these guidelines and teachings as they consider themselves different
and choose to live by their own moral codes.

Bibliography

* The Bible

* Collins Gem English Dictionary

* St Luke's Gospel textbook
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