The editors at Lord’s Library created the essential parables in Luke list with Bible scripture and additional commentary.
The Gospel of Luke is the first installment in a two-part series that includes the book of Acts. It has familiar stories like “The Good Samaritan” that can only be found in the book. Luke was a Gentile (non-Jew) and a physician who traveled with Apostle Paul for most of his journey. Luke wrote the book for a particular individual known as Theophilus, but his identity is unknown. The book’s theme is to explain why Jesus came to Earth and for whom. It quotes Luke 19:10, stating, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
There are 13 parables in Luke not in the other gospels, including the Parable of the Two Debtors, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, the Parable of the Rich Fool, the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, the Parable of the Invited Guests, the Parable of the Lost Coin, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Unjust Steward, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Parable of the Persistent Widow, the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, and the Parable of the Ten Pounds.
The most searched-for parables in Luke are the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Lord’s Library has articles on the Parables in Matthew’s Gospel and Parables in Mark listed for further reading as well.
Note: This resource features a parables in Luke list in the order in which they appear in the Bible.
Parables in Luke List
The Parable of the Lamp
Also known as the Parable of the Lamp on a Stand, the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids
In the Parable of the Lamp, Jesus teaches the importance of living their faith on their sleeve. He calls his followers “the light of the world.” Believers are to reflect the love of Christ, illuminating the fallen world with the light of God.
Jesus uses a common household item, a lamp, as a metaphor to resonate with His audience. He reminds them that none of them hide a lamp under a bowl. Instead, they are instructed to leave it uncovered so light illuminates the house. In the same way, He calls believers to shine and show the world His love.
The Parable of the Lamp can be found in Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 4:21-25, and Luke 8:16-18:
- Luke 8:16-18: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”
The Parable of the Speck and the Log
The core message of this parable is simple: Christians are not to judge others. Jesus reminds us that we will be judged in the same manner we judge others. His message here is timeless: who of us is without fault enough to judge others?
We are all sinful as human nature has been corrupted by sin. Jesus reminds His audience of this through this parable. Instead of judging others, Jesus calls us to recognize our own sins and repent of them.
The Parable of the Speck and the Log can be found in Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:37-42:
- Luke 6:37-42: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders comes from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount from Matthew, and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke. This parable sees Jesus use an aid, the “solid rock”, as being incomparable to devotion to Christ. As such, one should build their spiritual “foundation” on salvation to Christ, and not to this world.
It’s an effective parable because as humans we see solid rock as a strong foundation on which to build. Christ shatters the notion that even the earth’s hardest framing material doesn’t belong in the same conversation. The narrative structures for the appearance of this parable in the Bible differ slightly. Also, this parable is the theme for the popular hymn “Build on the Rock.”
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders can be found in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49:
- Luke 6:46-49: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
The Parable of New Cloth on an Old Garment
Also known as the Parable of New Cloth on an Old Garment, the Parable of New Wine in Old Wineskins
In this parable, Jesus gives two illustrations: sewing a new piece of cloth on an old, damaged garment and pouring new wine into old wineskins. In both illustrations, the message is the same. If one is to embrace a new life of faith in Christ, they have to leave their old life behind.
Jesus is teaching us that if we simply patch faith into our old life, that it will not be compatible. What we live out will not be a genuine expression of faith. The garment will tear and the wineskins will burst. To truly live out the faith, it’s crucial that one embrace a new identity in Christ.
The Parable of the New Cloth on an Old Garment can be found in Matthew 9:16-17, Mark 2:21-22, and Luke 5:33-39:
- Luke 5:33-39: “And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”
The Parable of the Sower
Also known as the Parable of the Soil
In this parable, Jesus tells the story of a farmer planting seeds. Some of the seed falls on a path and is eaten by birds. Other seeds fell in rocky places where there was not enough soil to nourish and give them roots. The rest of the seed fell on good soil where it prospered and provided a bountiful crop!
This parable describes how the receiving of the Gospel blooms in the lives of different people. Some will hear the message of the Gospel but not understand it. Before it can take root, evil snatches it away. Then there are those who reacted positively to the message but don’t keep with it because it has not taken root in their heart. There are those who develop strong roots in the Gospel and it blooms into a massive crop within their hearts as well.
The Parable of the Sower can be found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15:
- Luke 8:4-15: “And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
In this parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Though it is the smallest among all seeds, it grows to become a large tree that houses families of birds. In the same way, the Gospel starts as a small seed within the heart and blooms into a life-giving and transformative catalyst in the lives of many.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed can be found in Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-34, and Luke 13:18-21:
- Luke 13:18-21: “Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
The Parable of the Leaven
In this parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast baked into bread. Just as a little bit of yeast spreads throughout a large amount of dough, so too does the Gospel spread through human hearts, changing the world one person at a time. The Kingdom of Heaven is built through the spread of the Gospel.
The Parable of the Leaven can be found in Matthew 13:33-34 and Luke 13:20-23:
- Luke 13:20-23: “And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Also known as the Parable of the Wandering Sheep
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is one of the most famous in the entire Bible. It tells the story of a shepherd with 100 sheep. One of the sheep wanders off. Then, the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep behind to look for the single lost sheep.
Jesus tells us that the shepherd is happier about finding the one lost sheep than about the 99 that didn’t wander off. This is parallel to the joy of God when a single lost person returns to Him in faith. The righteous endure the struggles of this life so as many as possible can come to repentance before the day of the final judgment.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep can be found in Matthew 18:10-14 and Luke 15:1-7:
- Luke 15:1-7: “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
The Parable of the Tenants
Also known as the Parable of the Tenant Farmers, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman, the Parable of the Landowner
The Parable of the Tenants is one Jesus used to show the Pharisees their sin, but one that also teaches an important lesson today. In it, a landowner plants a vineyard and rents it to tenant farmers to take care of. When he sends people to collect the fruit, the tenant farmers kill them. The landowner sends his son, thinking they’ll respect him, but they kill him as well. Then the landowner comes and puts an end to them, giving the farm to other tenants.
Jesus tells the Pharisees this is what will happen to them. They didn’t believe the prophets God sent and they killed them. Now, they were about to kill God’s very Son. Thus, God would take away their status as His chosen people and share it with the Gentiles as well. For us, we must ensure that we do not walk the path of the Pharisees ourselves, but rather live life in a genuine and heartfelt relationship with God.
The Parable of the Tenants can be found in Matthew 21:35-45, Mark 12:1-12, and Luke 20:9-18:
- Luke 20:9-18: “Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Also known as the Parable of the Great Banquet, the Parable of the Marriage Feast, the Parable of the Wedding Feast, the Parable of the Great Supper, the Parable of the Invitation to a Wedding Banquet
In this parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding banquet thrown by a king for his son. The king sends out servants to tell the invited guests to come, but they refuse. So instead, the king sends his servants back out to invite everyone off the streets to the banquet, which ended up being filled with guests.
This parable speaks to God’s relationship with His chosen people, the Jews, and His bringing in of the Gentiles. Many of the Jews rejected God, His true message, and His prophets. In light of this, God extended the truth of the Gospel to the Gentiles as well. Now, anyone who accepts the free gift of salvation offered by Christ can come into the faith.
The Parable of the Great Banquet can be found in Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:16-24:
- Luke 14:16-24: “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
The Parable of the Budding Fig Tee
Also known as the Parable of the Fig Tree, the Parable of Signs of the Future from a Fig Tree
Here, Jesus speaks of a budding fig tree. He says when the twigs are tender and the leaves come out, you understand that summer is near. In the same way, when the signs of the times appear, you will know that His return is coming soon. This parable reminds one to keep their eyes and ears open to the world around us so we can be prepared for Christ’s return.
The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree can be found in Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-33, and Luke 21:29-31:
- Luke 21:29-31: “And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”
The Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servant
Also known as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Servants, the Parable of the Watchful Servants
In this parable, Jesus speaks of a master who goes away and leaves his servant in charge of his household. The wise servant feeds everyone at the proper time and takes care of the matters of the house. But the wicked servant uses his freedom to abuse his power and mistreat the other people of the house. When the master comes back, this wicked servant will face judgment!
Jesus is showing us what will happen to those who don’t follow His teachings during this time He is away. If we neglect all that He has taught us while He is gone, we will be in serious trouble when He returns! And He will come back at a time we do not expect, so we best be ready at every moment.
The Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servant can be found in Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:34-37, and Luke 12:35-48:
- Luke 12:35-48: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
The Parable of the Two Debtors
Also known as the Parable of the Money Lender, the Parable of the Returning Owner
In this parable, Jesus is responding to a thought by His dinner host which sparks a teaching. Christ attempts to teach Simon to see a sinner woman as He does. This parable is also an opportunity for Jesus to show Simon and the reader that the woman in this story loves Him more because she has been forgiven of greater sins.
The fact that Christ responded to Simon’s unspoken thought shows him God-like abilities. The Bible then goes on to make a clear comparison between this situation and a story centered around two debtors, both owing different amounts, but both being unable to pay. When the money lender forgives both debts, Jesus asks Simon which debtor would show more love.
The Parable of the Two Debtors can be found in Luke 7:36-50:
- Luke 7:36-50: “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is another of Jesus’ most famous examples. In this story, a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by robbers, leaving him half-dead. A priest and Levite both passed him by without offering him any aid. They simply went about their way. But then a Samaritan passed by and recognized his need. He took him back to an inn and looked after the traveler until he returned to health.
To understand this parable, one must understand who the Samaritans were. They were a group of half-Jews hailing from Samaria, who believed God was to be worshipped on their holy mountain instead of Jerusalem. They also only read the first five books of the Bible as inspired Scripture. They were shunned by the rest of the Jews and looked very distastefully upon. So through this parable, Jesus is teaching that good people can come from any place and one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan can be found in Luke 10:29-37:
- Luke 10:29-37: “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
The Parable of the Friend at Midnight
Also known as the Parable of the Friend Seeking Bread
Here, Jesus tells a story of someone coming to another’s house at midnight and asking for three loaves of bread to feed a friend who has come to visit them. At first, he won’t give the bread because his household is asleep, and doesn’t want to disturb them. But because of the friend’s persistence, he eventually relents and gets him the bread he asked for.
Jesus teaches this parable to show the kind of desire we must have when seeking God. One must pursue Him and have a relationship with Him. If one does so out of a genuine desire to know Him, like the friend at midnight, He will surely open the door and offer what we seek.
The Parable of the Friend at Midnight can be found in Luke 11:5-13:
- Luke 11:5-13: “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
The Parable of the Rich Fool
Here, Jesus tells the story of a rich man whose land yielded an abundant crop. He had no place to store his crop, so he decided to build bigger barns to store it in. Then, he decided he would take things easy and live off his surplus. God then reprimanded the man for storing up things for himself instead of giving for the sake of others.
The Parable of the Rich Fool can be found in Luke 12:13-21:
- Luke 12:13-21: “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
Also known as the Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree
This parable tells the story of a fig tree that had not produced a crop for three years. When the owner of the vineyard wanted it cut down for not producing fruit, the man who cared for the vineyard asked him to give the tree one more year to yield a harvest. Jesus is teaching that if we aren’t producing fruit here and now, the time is short until it’s too late. Just as the fig tree only has a year to produce fruit, one must be eager to produce fruit in life before the return (or judgment) of Christ when it will be too late.
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree can be found in Luke 13:6-9:
- Luke 13:6-9: “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”
The Parable of the Invited Guests
Also known as the Parable of the Humbled Guests, the Parable of the Lowest Seat, the Parable of Taking the Lowest Place, the Parable of the Place of Honor
Here, Jesus instructs His listeners about not taking a seat of honor when invited to a wedding feast. He is teaching about humility, then relating it to how the standards of greatness are determined differently in the Kingdom of Heaven compared to here on Earth.
The Parable of the Invited Guests can be found in Luke 14:7-14:
- Luke 14:7-14: “And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
The Parable of the Lost Coin
Also known as the Parable of the Lost Piece of Money
In the Parable of the Lost Coin, Jesus tells a story about a woman who has ten gold coins. She loses one and tears apart her home to find it. When she does, she rejoices. Jesus explains this one outright, saying that the same kind of rejoicing happens in Heaven when even one sinner comes to repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin can be found in Luke 15:8-10:
- Luke 15:8-10: “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Perhaps the most well-known parable, here Jesus speaks of a father who has two sons. One son asks for his inheritance early and the father agrees. The son goes out and squanders all the money on a sinful lifestyle. Realizing his sinful ways have landed him at rock bottom, he decides to return home to his father, repent of his sins, and pray for forgiveness.
Thankfully, the father welcomes him with open arms. The Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches that God rejoices when one “returns home” to Him. We, like the prodigal son, must recognize our sins and come running back into God’s arms with a heart of repentance.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son can be found in Luke 15:11-32:
- Luke 15:11-32: “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
The Parable of the Unjust Steward
Also known as the Parable of the Unrighteous Steward, the Parable of the Penitent Steward, the Parable of the Shrewd Manager
The Parable of the Unjust Steward can be found in Luke 16:1-13:
- Luke 16:1-13: “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
This parable compares the eternal destiny of two men. The first is a rich man living in luxury while the second is a man named Lazarus, who is destitute and begs at the city gates. The rich man never helped Lazarus in life although he had the means to. When they both die, the rich man goes to hell but looks up and sees Lazarus in heaven alongside Abraham, a beloved figure of the faith.
Here, Jesus is teaching that one mustn’t hoard wealth while others are suffering. God wishes that we would give earnestly of our resources to aid those who are in need. This is the way of Christ and the path that will lead to salvation. If one doesn’t follow these guidelines, they run the risk of finding the same fate as the rich man.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus can be found in Luke 16:19-31:
- Luke 16:19-31: “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
Also known as the Parable of the Importunate Widow, the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge
This parable tells the story of a widow who continuously seeks out a callous judge for justice. He refused over and over again, but still, she would come to him. Eventually, he conceded, knowing it was the only way to stop her.
In the same way, Jesus says that God will ensure that the righteous receive justice. He teaches this to encourage people to treat each other justly so they will not face judgment at His return.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow can be found in Luke 18:1-8:
- Luke 18:1-8: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
In the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Jesus tells a story of two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee prays to not be like the tax collectors and other sinners, insinuating his own righteousness. The tax collector prays a prayer of repentance, asking for God’s mercy and admitting his own sinfulness.
Jesus reveals that the tax collector; the one society would deem unrighteous over the Pharisee, is the one who is left justified by God. Here, Jesus is teaching the value of humility and its role in our salvation.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector can be found in Luke 18:9-14:
- Luke 18:9-14: “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”
The Parable of the Ten Pounds
Also known as the Parable of the Pounds
The Parable of the Ten Pounds can be found in Luke 19:11-27:
- Luke 19:11-27: “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
Like the Gospel of Matthew, Luke has more than a dozen unique parables and more than 20 in total. In addition to the parables in Luke, this book tells details the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. The parables in Mark chapter 4 are popularly searched for on Google search as well.
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