By Robert M Solomon
Jesus was a master story teller. If we put all his recorded sayings into text, his parables comprise a full third! Jesus’ parables are thus an important part of his teaching. This book teaches us how to study these parables step by step.
Robert M Solomon is a medical doctor, theologian, pastor, past Principal of Trinity Theological College and past Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore (2000-2012). He brings with him keen academic scholarship and deep pastoral insights, delivered in a simple easy-to- read style.
The book is divided into four parts. The first introduces the reader to the history and current views of interpretation, as well as a chapter offering practical tips for preachers and teachers. The author then delves into individual parables – discussed in three sections: parables that reveal the nature of the Kingdom of God, parables that show how to enter the Kingdom of God, and parables that teach us how to live in this Kingdom.
Discussing 21 well known parables, Solomon starts each chapter with a synopsis of the story. Then he provides the context – such as when and where the parable was told, to whom it was told, and the relevant contextual background. This helps us, readers situated two millenia after Jesus’ time, to understand implications and nuances we would have otherwise missed. Solomon then draws out key lessons from each parable before a concise conclusion. Every chapter ends with three thought provoking, soul searching ‘’Reflection Questions’’ that helps us focus on applications to our personal lives. Throughout, Solomon quotes interesting snippets from poetry or songs and weaves stories from church history to illustrate or explain or warn.
Like many of us at St James Church, I have heard all these parables before, not a single one was new to me. But this book brought new insights to almost every single parable, and challenged me to re-assess my life anew. In particular, parables from the third section, touching on themes of gratitude, stewardship, accountability and the serious question of my readiness to meet God – caused me to re-assess and re-order my priorities in life. This book is well worth a read, but be warned. You will be challenged to change your life – and in so doing, you will be better placed to receive the “well done, good and faithful servant” the Lord yearns to give to you.
Reviewed by Low Yee
Treasure Trove team member