Article by: Sarah Koontz
In January of 2019, I started my education at Dallas Seminary. My first class was Bible Exposition 101 with Dr. Mark Bailey, the seminary president (and now chancellor).
Of course, I loved the class and was challenged immensely by the lectures and assignments. But the best part was the three live video chats we had with Dr. Bailey.
He was in his home office, wearing his casual evening clothes, and we had his undivided attention for a full hour.
It was just twelve other students and me, and we spent the hour asking Dr. Bailey questions about life, ministry, and Bible study.
During our first video chat, he recommended Dr. Snodgrass’s book on the parables. He said it was one of the most comprehensive, thoughtful resources on Christ’s parables and a valuable addition to any library.
I knew I wanted to write a study on the Parables someday, so I ordered the book right after the video call ended.
That book sat in my library untouched for two full years.
That happens sometimes, doesn’t it? Our best intentions sit on a shelf while life demands we redirect our energy elsewhere.
Seven years in full-time ministry have taught me that my vision always exceeds my ability.
God’s unique call on my life requires me to faithfully (emphasis on FULLY) surrender all my ideas, plans, and desires to the One who reigns sovereignly above it all.
Only He knows. Truly.God’s unique call on my life requires me to faithfully (emphasis on FULLY) surrender all my ideas, plans, and desires to the One who reigns sovereignly above it all.
The Story Behind the Parables Study
I felt a mixture of humility and gratitude as I cracked open Snodgrass’s 900+ page reference on Christ’s parables in January 2021.
I remember thinking, “Finally! I get to study the Parables!!!”
Jesus Christ is the Master Storyteller, and His employment of parabolic teaching is extraordinary.
Christ’s stories encourage us to reconsider our preconceived notions about reality.
They inspire us to re-order our lives according to God’s design. And they give us the light we need to see spiritual truth.
Although I began my research for the project in January, I didn’t have time to sit down and write the first four weeks of the study until summer break in 2021.
Storyteller was always going to be a seven-week Bible study covering all of Christ’s parables.
Sadly, about three-quarters of the way through summer, I had to accept that there was no healthy way for me to finish the full study in time for a fall 2021 release.
I knew I could make the time to do it, but I also knew that wouldn’t be a God-honoring choice given my circumstances.
So I permitted myself to change course and chose to release the first half of the study last fall.
Creating space to complete the second half of the study in 2022 was just as arduous.
An unexpected technical issue with our Bible study delivery system required me to rework my writing schedule this year and push off the release of part two of this study yet again.
I have never had to fight so hard to find the space and energy to curate a study for this community.
I’ve also never experienced such an extraordinary amount of Divine inspiration and Heavenly help on a day-to-day basis.
After nearly four years of dreaming about and working on this study, I am happy to announce that the full Storyteller Study is finally complete.
This powerful study of Christ’s Parables includes 35 lessons covering all of Christ’s major parables recorded in Scripture.
God is the reason this study exists, and He is the One who deserves all the credit and glory for this project.This powerful study of Christ’s Parables includes 35 lessons covering all of Christ’s major parables recorded in Scripture.
Seven Principles from the Parables Study
Jesus often used parables (expanded analogies) in His teaching. His practical illustrations help us comprehend complex spiritual truths.
Parables always bear some resemblance to reality. They also function as filters to help us see another reality.
Parables utilize relatable examples that are not necessarily reflective of everyday occurrences. Parables often use exaggeration to shock the audience and force a response.
Studying Christ’s parables in context is critical. Understanding His original audience and recognizing the events surrounding each story helps us gather the information we need to apply the parables to our lives.
Proper understanding and practical application of Christ’s parables depends on the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-17).
Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we are powerless to understand (let alone apply) Christ’s parables to our lives.
Here are seven powerful takeaways from each week of our free Parables Study:
#1 – Salt & Light (an excerpt from Day 2)
I often ask my daughters why God doesn’t just take us up to heaven the moment we profess our faith in Christ. Of course, they know the answer well by now, “He left us here because we have a job to do!”
Salt seasons and light shines. As Christ-followers, we are commissioned to season and shine for God’s glory. Christ came to bring salvation to all the earth, and we live to share our eternal hope with others (1 Pet 1:3-6).
#2 – Be Alert (an excerpt from Day 8)
Because we do not know when Christ will return (1 Th 5:2), we are charged to develop the following characteristics:
We each have a job to do, and our Master expects us to busy ourselves with our individual assignments until He returns. He also promises to give us the strength we need to accomplish His work (1 Cor 1:8).
#3 – True Repentance (an excerpt from Day 16)
God values our repentance more than our righteousness. Stop and think about that for a minute! In God’s economy, repentance > righteousness. How can this be?
True repentance involves an awareness of sin (Ps 51:4), an acknowledgment of one’s need for God’s mercy (Ps 130:4), and the determined pursuit of holy living (1 Pet 1:16). Repentance is a gift we give back to God. It is a deliberate action we take when confronted with our sinful state.Salt seasons and light shines. As Christ-followers, we are commissioned to season and shine for God’s glory.
#4 – Keep Praying (an excerpt from Day 23)
Our Heavenly Father is willing and able to provide for all of our needs (Phil 4:19); because we are His Children, we can trust Him to give us good gifts (Mt 7:11).
Therefore, we must keep praying! Jesus called this “abiding” (Jn 15:1), and Paul commanded the church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17). Persist in prayer, friend! God in Heaven will hear, heal, and forgive you (2 Chr 7:14).
#5 – Lost & Found (an excerpt from Day 29)
Our God is a God of action, initiative, and diligence. His love for His created ones motivates Him to seek and save the lost. Once the lost are found, their sins are forgiven (Ps 103:12), and their status is restored (Eph 1:11-14).
Our lost-ness doesn’t decrease our value in the eyes of Almighty God. Our sinfulness doesn’t make us any less worthy of His divine pursuit. And our repentance brings God joy. That, sweet friend, is truth worth meditating on today—and every day hereafter.
#6 – Rich or Poor? (an excerpt from Day 36)
We have one opportunity here on earth to use our God-given resources for His divine purposes. Don’t get lazy and miss out on the eternal blessings that await all who live by faith.
Let’s use our wealth and wisdom to care for the poor and reach the lost! And if we are poor and miserable on this side of heaven, we must not forget that God is still on our side, and He will make all things right in the end.
#7- Wise Investments (an excerpt from Day 43)
God provides the resources we need to faithfully serve Him throughout our lives. But we must be willing to invest our spiritual resources wisely and for the good of the Kingdom.
- Our gifts are different.
- Our situations are varied.
- Our assignments are identical.
As recipients of the gospel of grace (1 Thes 2:4), we are responsible for distributing God’s Word throughout the world (Mk 16:15). What step can you take today to ensure that you are wisely investing God’s resources?I love studying Christ’s parables because they illuminate His heart and reveal His plan for us.
You are Invited to Participate in our Parables Study
Jesus Christ is my Savior, my God, my Teacher, and my Friend.
He is the Person I run to when I am scared—the One I reach out for when I am lonely.
Whenever I am confounded, His words comfort me, and His counsel directs me.
God Himself walked this earth for thirty-three years. Blood, sweat, and tears marked His flesh—pain and persecution marked His soul.
He lived among us. He walked beside us.
He used simple stories to teach the masses about the grace, mercy, and kindness of our God.
I love studying Christ’s parables because they illuminate His heart and reveal His plan for us.
They give us fresh sight and help us see (and apply) God’s truth to our lives.
This e-mail-based Bible Study consists of thirty-five lessons delivered over seven weeks (with two rest days each week).
Our ministry team has worked overtime to create additional resources to make this Bible study even more valuable to our readers.
Each day of the Parables study also includes:
✔ A Printable PDF Version: Formatted with “pen and paper” learners in mind, this printable version of the study includes space for notes and room to write your answers to the daily application questions.
✔ A Mp3 Audio Version: Listen and learn on the go! All daily audio downloads are less than 10-minutes long and include both the Scripture reading and devotional.
✔ Digital Artwork: The talented Kory Callihan has spent the past year creating original parable-inspired artwork for this study. Most lessons include a free digital download of at least one of her watercolor paintings.
I urge you to fully invest yourself in studying the parables of Christ with me over the next seven weeks.
No matter where you’ve been—no matter where you’re going—you will benefit from this spiritual exercise.
Sit at the feet of the ultimate Storyteller and soak up the wisdom and hope His words provide.