The parable is a literary device used often by Jesus Christ in his teachings. While Christ used the parable, according to Matthew 13:10-17, he did not expect the crowds to understand them.
The word parable comes from the Greek, parabole, and is a metaphor or simile that makes a comparison drawn from everyday life. The parable draws the listener to its attention by its vividness or strangeness that engenders in the listener's mind enough doubt about its meaning to stimulate active thought.
The use of parables by Jesus was a continuation of their use in the Old Testament where the Jews were familiar with teaching by parables and, thus, their use by Jesus was a natural continuation.
Parables of Jesus
The parables of Jesus are found in the three synoptic gospels and form a key part of his teaching. His parables, while seemingly simple, often with imagery, each conveys a message that is deep and central to his teaching. As keys to his teaching, the Orthodox Church continues to convey these messages through the liturgical services where often a parable is the lesson for the day.
Parables start the Paschal season with the story of the Pharisee and Publican and continues with the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Last Judgement. Through the year the lessons of Divine Liturgy include the parables of the Sower and the Seed, the Mustard Seed, the Unmerciful Servant, the Vineyard Workers and the Employer, the Good Samaritan, and others.