Skip straight to the video, or start with the pre-class readings.
Suggested Pre-Class Readings
In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus Christ shared more than thirty parables (there are none in John). See this document for a complete list of parables, as well as links to each one. To prepare for class, please focus on the following seven parables.
The parable of the sower. Please read the parable (Matthew 13:1-9) and the Savior’s explanation of the parable (Matthew 13:18-23). Note that this is one of only three parables that Christ himself interprets in the Gospels). This parable is pretty straightforward, but if you’re feeling confused, please read this optional talk from President Dallin H. Oaks.
The parable of the prodigal son. Remember the context of the parable (Luke 15:1-2), as you read this parable: (Luke 15:11-32). This is such a powerful parable! If desired, read this optional talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
The parable of the Good Samaritan. Read the context of the parable (Luke 10:25-29), as well as the parable itself (Luke 10:30-37). If you need a quick study break, watch this beautiful music video or modern retelling (these videos are optional).
The parable of the unmerciful servant. Read the context of the parable (Matthew 18:21-22). Then either read the parable (Matthew 18:23-35) or watch a video version of the parable (the video version is so fun! Pick that one! It helps contextualize the monetary figures mentioned in the parable).
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Rather than read this parable from the scriptural text, please read or watch this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He will read and explain the parable, providing important context and application.
Questions to focus on during the video
Which Gospel recounts the least number of the Savior’s parables?
How many of his parables did Jesus Christ name? Why might this be important? (If you want to go more in-depth in this area, see this optional article).
What verbs set apart those who are represented by the good soil?
What interpretation of “the word” is suggested by John 1 and Alma 32-33?
As discussed in class (from the visual and from Elder Arnold) what two key lessons can we learn from the parable of the lost sheep?
Which figure in the parable of the prodigal son displays behavior like those grumbling in the context of the parable?
Be able to approximate the monetary figures in the parable of the unforgiving servant in terms of today’s money.
How can the parable of the Good Samaritan be applied in real life today?
What is the message of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard?
Check Your Understanding Questions
Download Visuals and Printables
Optional post-class readings
If you’re looking for an easy-to-read, applicable book on parables, you might like Of Pigs, Pearls, and Prodigals: A Fresh Look at the Parables of Jesus, by John Bytheway or Living the Parables, by Hank Smith.
If you’re looking for an in-depth, comprehensive examination of the Savior’s parables, check out Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, by Klyne R. Snodgrass. He has dedicated decades to studying the parables and provides many valuable insights.
It’s interesting to note that almost all of the parable titles we use today do not come from Jesus or other New Testament scripture–they come later. If you’re interested in learning more about this, read this article by Thomas Wayment.
Download the PowerPoint used in the video
Insights from, discussions with, and resources authored by Dr. Hank Smith, Dr. Frank Judd, Dr. Klyne Snodgrass, Dr. Thomas Wayment, and Dr. Amy-Jill Levine were used in the creation of this video.