Father John Echert on EWTN.com provides five reasons why Jesus taught using parables.
1. Parables were a common manner for teaching among the Rabbis
2. Parables are useful to explain unseen realities by that which is visible and more readily perceivable
3. Parables keep a sense of mystery in that they are not literal
4. Parables are readily remembered and retold
5. Parables tend to invite the listener into the image and message
Children and youth love stories and because they live in a world where mystery is freely accepted, unlike adults, they can easily understand and apply the lessons in the parables. The trick is to share the parables in a way that is accessible for children and youth. However, do we ever teach youth why Jesus used parables to teach? Below you will find a few suggestions that you can use with Sunday School, in religious education classes and in youth ministry to middle school students. At the end of today’s post is an activity from Catholicmom.com on a Ten Talents Activity Game. You will find other parable games and activities on this site as well.
Hook the students with questions like:
- “Who loves to listen to stories? Why do you like to listen to stories?” Take some feedback from the children.
- “Did you know that Jesus told lots of stories when He was on earth as a way to teach us? Jesus’ stories are called parables. A parable is a simple story that tells a lesson.”
Go to the Scriptures:
- “Why do you think Jesus taught us using parables? Let’s look at the reason Jesus himself gave when he was talking to his disciples.”
- “Open your Bibles to Matthew 13:10-17.” Read these verses aloud or divide up the verses among some proficient readers in your class to have them read the passage aloud.
Study and examine the text:
- “In these verses Jesus explains why he taught using parables.”
- Reread verse 11. “Jesus spoke in simple stories as a way of teaching his disciples lessons he wanted them to learn. Lessons learned in the form of a story are easy to remember and later share with others. His disciples could listen to the story and understand the lesson Jesus wanted them to learn. Those who were not his disciples heard the stories, but did not understand the lessons.”
- “Why do you think some people did not understand the lessons in Jesus’ stories?” Take input from the children. “They did not understand because they had hardened their hearts to hearing the truth Jesus was teaching.”