Parables - January 10

Darrell L. Bock's picture

I promised to start a parable series at the end of November. Alas, I have been very busy and so was not able to do so. I will start it now. My opening observation is to simply note that a parable does not have only one point. Some of them are designed to be full metaphors that portrays history with multiple points of connection. The clearest illustration of this is the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, which clearly alludes to the leadership's opposition, the prophets, Jesus, his death in several distinct steps. Check it out. Ask questions if you wish.


Dr. Bock
I find preaching parables to be extremely difficult. Most people when they preach, preach every sermon in a didatic form. Parabales, however, are stories and it would seem that you cannot do justice to the structure of the text if you preach it in a didatic form? Would you preach the parable like a narrative? What should the sermon structure look like when preaching a parable? Can you recommend any books that would help in preaching the parables? Any tips would help?

Cory Thompson

Dr. Bock, would you agree that multple points of reference in a parable is not the same thing as multiple meanings, i.e., there is one central point, or teaching, that Jesus meant to communicate?

Jesus' comments immediately following the parable are interesting. He contrasts one who falls on the stone versus one on whom the stone falls. Is Jesus making a distinction here or just expressing that anyone who rejects the stone in any way will be destroyed?

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Well, Matt, the answer is there is no real distinction. It is bad for whoever encounters the stoen either way. There is a Jewish proverb this is like. It goes "if the pot falls on the stone, alas, for the pot; if the stone falls on the pot, alas for the pot." So the pot is shot no matter what! That is Jesus' point. To reject the stone is a bad move.

Dr. Bock,

Like another person commented. I had heard that the difference was between rejecting Christ which was crushing in judgment sense and receiving which was breaking in a humbling sense of salvation.

But the Jewish proverb you mentioned seems to point in the direction of judgment only.

Is there a way to verify which is more likely?


Darrell L. Bock's picture

Chris: The context here is decidedly a challenge to the leadership, so the likelihood is this is judgment either way.  dlbBy the way, glad to have had you in class! 

Maybe it's neither. Maybe anyone who comes in contact with the stone will be left changed? Those who reject the stone will be crushed while those who don't will only be broken? I heard this idea in a sermon once.

The idea that a parable can have more than one point is liberating to me. I think I've caused myself a lot of stress trying to think of the "main point" both within a Biblical story and within my own.


Please continue to do what you can here on the parables. I was trained under a classic dispensational framework, modifying my perspective as that discipline modified itself, and have experienced the teasing of every parable into the orbit of what many today would consider lines of demarcation that are too harsh (think Mat 13. here)

As of late, and due in large part to the influence of the proliferation of 2nd Temple Judaism studies, I have a renewed appreciation for what Jesus was doing and saying, what it meant to those of His own day, and how we should read and understand it in ours. Much of this has been due to readings in N.T. Wright, but also against a now 20 year old hermeneutical echo from Zuck that challenges us to ascertain original authorial intent and original audience understanding.

All of which goes to support my desire to cover old ground with new insight, allowing the conclusions to fall where they may.

And if this means my dispensationalism must progress, so be it.

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