A parable, in it's simplest understanding, is a "story with common human characters that illustrates an important truth"--or at least that's how Klien, Blomber, and Hubbard stated it . I think this is a good way to view a parable because often times, students of the Bible stretch Jesus' parables way beyond an important truth. Sadly, sometimes parables get interpreted in ways that were not likely how Jesus intended them to be understood. We should use some caution when interpreting parables.
And there's something else interesting about how Jesus used parables. For many, they heard a story about a farmer; but for others, they heard more than the story about the farmer. With the help of illumination from the Holy Spirit or explanation from Jesus, they also were able to make the bigger connection to the important truth contained underneath the surface of the parable.
Jesus' parables are fun to read and teach us so much. It it has been a while since you've read the parables, I suggest you make a little time and read some of them. See the story.
1. William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, Tenn), 338.
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