Take a moment and ponder what it must have been like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the first century, and imagine that you are listening to the voice of Jesus as he taught. What would it have been like? yes, these ones were very privileged. However, those early followers of Jesus never had the chance to possess, read, or hear a lector read from a completed written record, which would remind them of what Jesus said, or inform them of something he said that they were not present for on that particular occasion. Even so, they were very fortunate to carry the words of Jesus Christ in their hearts. By way of his extensive use of parables, dozens recorded in the Gospels. Jesus made it easier for these disciples to remember what he taught.
Jesus was very careful in his use of details. Sometimes, there were specifics that were important to a story or significant for emphasis, so he took great care to provide them. For example, Jesus gave us exactly how many sheep that were left behind while he went to search for the missing stray. He also gave us in The Workers in the Vineyard just how many hours workers labored in the vineyard. In the Parable of the Talents, he gave us how many talents were given in trust.—Matthew 18:12-14; 20:1-16; 25:14-30.
In his parables, Jesus also selectively used details, as he left out nonessential aspects that may very well have prevented us from grasping the meaning of the parable. For example, in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, we are not given an explanation as to how that slave had acquired such a debt as 60,000,000 denarii. yes, it seems almost inconceivable as to how a slave could run up a debt that is the equivalent of 60,000,000 days of labor for the average worker, or that anyone would let such a debt go on to the point of getting to such an amount. But the point is not in those nonessential details, as Jesus is simply stressing the need to be forgiving. It was not important to know how the slave accumulated such debt, but rather how such a huge debt was forgiven and how he, in turn, failed to forgive the debt of a fellow slave who owed him comparatively very little money. (Matthew 18:23-35) Likewise, in The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus gave us no reason as to why the younger son suddenly demanded his inheritance and why he wasted it. However, Jesus did give us details as to how the father felt and how he reacted when his son had changed his thinking and his feelings and returned home. The specific details concerning the father’s response were crucial to the point Jesus was making, that the Father “will freely forgive [generously].”—Isaiah 55:7; Luke 15:11-32.
Jesus was also careful as to how he depicted the characters in his parables. Rather than giving us overly involved descriptions of the characters’ appearance, Jesus frequently concentrated on what they were doing or how they reacted to the circumstances of his narrative. Thus, Jesus did not take up time, getting lost in the weeds of describing what the neighborly Samaritan looked like, Jesus drew our attention to something far more meaningful, how the Samaritan compassionately came to the rescue of an injured Jew lying on the roadside. Within Jesus’ parable of the Neighborly Samaritan, there were only the relevant details that were needed to teach that love of neighbor applies to everyone, not just one’s own race or nationality.—Luke 10:29, 33-37.
When we read the parables of Jesus, we notice that Jesus was very careful in his use of details, which made his parables brief and uncluttered. In this way, he made it easier for his first-century listeners, as well as billions since to remember many helpful lessons that he taught.
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