The parables are among the most memorable aspects of Christian instruction. Ministers still preach about the Great Supper, the Ten Maidens, and the Good Shepherd. Sunday school classes still study the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. But what the parables mean today is different from what they meant to the Jews who first heard them twenty-one centuries ago.
The people in the synagogues where Jesus preached, on the mountain in Galilee and along the shore of Lake Ginesseret, were Jews. Jesus’ words triggered Jewish images in their minds. Jesus’ healings reinforced Jewish understandings and Jewish beliefs. Seen in their original context as an outgrowth of Jewish experiences in the first century, Jesus’ parables provide enormous insight to Christians about Jesus’ first followers and their initial understandings off his message.
Frank Stern, A Rabbi Looks at Jesus’ Parables (Lanham, MD, Boulder, CO, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006), 1.