Jesus often taught through stories, called parables. Some of His parables were difficult to grasp, leaving some in the crowd confused. Other times His parables probably felt like a punch to the gut for some of His hearers.
He spoke with incredible wisdom.
But what are we to make of His parables? How do we interpret them? Do we take them literally? Are they metaphorical? Who are we in them? And most importantly, what do they mean for us today? Does it take a spiritual gifting to interpret them?
Here are a handful of books to help you learn how to read, interpret, and apply Jesus’ parables today:
What Do Jesus' Parables Mean? (Crucial Questions)
Written By: R.C. Sproul
In this quick read, the brilliant Dr. R.C. Sproul walks through eleven of Jesus’ parables and the rich lessons they carry for us today. But Dr. Sproul also explains how parables worked to clarify Jesus’ message for some—and to conceal it from others.
He breaks down the mystery of parables, helps us understand why some were kind of hard to grasp, and gives us tools to better interpret the parables ourselves.
Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
Written By: John Macarthur
John Macarthur takes us deep into the heart of the Kingdom and helps us learn how to interpret Jesus' stories.
MacArthur argues that these short, memorable stories represented more than just symbolism or a clever teaching style--they were carefully crafted tales that made the mysteries of the Gospel more accessible to everyday believers.
Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus
Written By: Klyne R. Snodgrass
This is a deep dive guide to Jesus' parables intended for pastors and students. It includes a comprehensive survey of the primary issues when it come to interpreting the parables. He also digs into parables seen outside of the New Testament to help us interpret the parables of Jesus.
It's a little academic, but well worth the read for those familiar with these types of books.
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Written By: Tim Keller
I'm not being dramatic when I say that Prodigal God changed my life. Tim Keller does an incredible job helping readers understand the heart of this parable – and the heart of God. He helps us see that the central character isn't the prodigal son, but God. And that BOTH sons play prominent roles in this parable.
This book won't only help you see this parable more clearly, but it will help you see the other parables with more clarity as well.
The Parables of Jesus
Written By: James Montgomery Boice
This is an all-time classic from the brilliant Boice. He takes us through the parables of Jesus, grouping them into five categories: parables of the kingdom, salvation, wisdom and folly, the Christian life, and judgment.
This book is incredibly memorable – much like the parables of Jesus.
Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human
Written By: Judah Smith
Although Judah covers a lot more than the parables in this book, he does offer some very helpful and encouraging commentary on the parable of the hidden treasure, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son.
Judah's books are super easy to read, written in a very conversational tone. He offers accessible wisdom and life in Jesus Is.
Other Helpful Books and Resources
We’re passionate about helpful resources. We live in an age where we have more access to sound Biblical resources than any generation ever before. That said, we also have access to a lot of not-so-sound Biblical resources. So we’re always trying to share books and commentaries that we believe are accurate and edifying.
Here are some other roundups of books and resources we’d recommend: