How Well Do You Know Jesus's Parables?

J. Reinoehl

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

A parable is a story that uses narrative to convey meaning or instruction. One of the most famous users of this teaching device is none other than Biblical star and (depending on your beliefs) messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus dedicated much of his life spreading his teachings by word of mouth, and parables were one of his favorite tools. He would use them to convey important teachings about morality, one's relationship to God, redemption, loss, love, forgiveness, and more.

Most of the parables are based on everyday situations which which his audience could relate: the outcome of a roadside mugging, a woman baking bread, or agricultural life. Despite the seeming simplicity of the stories, some deploy vivid imagery, and all convey an important lesson. These messages are considered extended similes and analogies, and are a crucial representation of the religious themes expressed in these texts.

The longevity and influence of the parables is substantial, and both the religious and irreligious can find something to enjoy or study in them. They have transcended one faith and entered a wider culture. Do you know them well, and if so, can you tell us their meaning? How about getting the details of the stories right? Test your knowledge here!

In the parable of the wise and foolish builders, the foolish man did what?

"But, he that heareth and doeth not is like a man that without a foundation build an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently and immediately it fell, and the ruin of the house was great." (Luke 6:49)

In Jesus's parable, who helped the man who was beaten up and left along the roadside?

Samaritans were people who lived in the area that was once the Northern Kingdom. When the Assyrians conquered Israel in the Old Testament, they practiced massive relocation plans that moved some of the Hebrews out and some foreigners into the area who then married the natives. The Samaritans were not only no longer physically “pure” Hebrew, but also they had intermingled religions as well.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, what happened to the two men?

“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.” –Luke 16:22

Where should you NOT place a candle according to Jesus’s parable?

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” – Matthew 5:14-15

Which seed from the parable of the sower was the one who heard the Word, understood, it and bore fruit?

"But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Mathew 13:23)

What did it mean when Jesus said, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed 500 pence and the other 50. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both?”

The word translated “pence” is one denarii. A denarii was a single day’s wages that an average Roman soldier would receive.

In one parable, Jesus stated that you couldn’t enter a strong man’s house without first?

In ancient Israel, the family was the primary unit of society. The family, at that time, provided people with their identity.

Fill in the blank from the parable of the rich fool: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, _______________________."

"And [the fool] will say to [his] 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." –Luke 12:19-21

In one parable, what did an enemy do to a man’s field after he planted it?

“Tares” are a plant called Zizanion. This plant looks like wheat when it is small, but is easy to tell it apart form the wheat when it is mature.

What did the friend ask to borrow from his neighbor at midnight?

“…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?’ …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.” –Luke 11:5-6, 8

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant who did what?

Although coins were popular since the time of Alexander the Great (the 3rd century B. C.), money and banking was still in its early stages at the time of Jesus. As such, many people buried their wealth to prevent theft.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, how many brothers did the Prodigal have?

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.” –Luke 15: 11-12

According to one parable, what should a man do before building a tower?

This parable has an object lesson about planning out a project to make sure you can finish it, and it can apply in many situations. However, the main meaning behind the parable is that you should not rush into being a Christian without counting the cost and being willing to accept the responsibilities that come with it.

In the parable of the Great Banquet, what happened to those the King first invited to the banquet?

“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.” –Matthew 22:7

In the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, how did the King treat the servant when he first begged for mercy?

The standard of sympathy in Jesus’s day was to forgive someone three times. Jesus taught you should continue to forgive people when they are sorry for their actions. Like many of Jesus’s parables, we have two examples in this one: the need for us to be forgiving because we are forgiven, and the justice of what happens when people are not truly sorry for their actions.

Who was humble when he prayed—the Pharisee or the publican?

There were designated times for people to go to the temple and pray, but these usually corresponded with the times for sacrifice. The temple was also open for prayer any time someone felt the need.

In the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, what did the servant do that made the King throw him in prison?

"But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence, and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me that thou owest.’ And his fellowservant fell down at his feet and besought him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.’ And he would not but went and cast him into prison till he should pay the debt." –Matthew 18:28-30

In the parable with the fig tree, what did the dresser of the vineyard do when the master wanted to cut it down?

Figs are unique in that the flower blossoms inside the husk of the fruit. Each tiny flower produces one seed.

Fill in the blank: " Neither do men put __________________

"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.." –Matthew 9: 17

In the parable of the Lost Coin, how many coins did the woman have before she lost one?

A silver coin would have been the Greek drachma. Like the Roman denarius, it was the equivalent of a solder’s pay for one day.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, what job did the Prodigal take after spending all his inheritance?

“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.” –Luke 15:15-16

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that did what?

The primary fish caught in the Sea of Galilee were carp, tilapia, and sardines. Fish was either dried and sold locally or turned into fish sauce and exported.

Finish the Parable: "And again he said, ‘Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like __________, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was __________.’"

"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.’” – Luke 13:20-21

What did the Unjust Steward do when he discovered he was about to be fired?

Many debate whether the Unjust Steward was continuing his dishonesty or whether he was merely making things right. It could be that he had overcharged the people initially, and he was simply returning their debts to where they should be. Alternately, he could have been cheating his Master even more.

In the parable of the Persistent Woman, what was the woman persistent about?

"…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.'" –Luke 18:2-3

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where was Lazarus resting in Heaven?

Since Abraham was considered the founder of the Hebrew nation, being close to him in Heaven would be a place of the highest honor. This parable also accentuates the fact that people cannot pass from Heaven to Hell nor can they return to earth once they are in Hell.

When the man needed workers for his vineyard, how much more did he offer to pay the first recruits as opposed to the last group of workers he collected?

“And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more, and they likewise received every man a penny.” –Matthew 20:9-10

In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, what happened to the man who didn’t show up in the correct clothing?

In ancient times, the host would have given all of his guests an appropriate garment to wear to the event. Since this guest chose not to wear it, the host would have taken it as an insult.

Fill in the blank for the parable of the Wicked Tenants: "But last of all he sent unto them his ____________, saying, ‘They will reverence my ____________,.’"

"But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, ‘They will reverence my son.’ But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.’” –Matthew 21: 37-38

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, who was upset to see the Prodigal return home after losing all his inheritance?

The youngest son would have received only 1/3 of the estate by ancient inheritance laws. However, the rest of the estate that remained would have rightfully belonged to the eldest son who stayed behind. The first born always received a double portion because it would have been his job to take care of the rest of the family, including any sisters, once the father passed away.

In the parable of the Lost Sheep, how many sheep total did the Good Shepherd own?

“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” –Matthew 18:12

When comparing the end of the generation to a fig tree in a parable what was the analogy?

Fig trees in the Middle East begin to leaf in March or April. The will not produce fruit until all the leaves are on the tree, which is usually about June.

When the Master returns the good servant won’t be found doing what, according to the parable?

“Watch ye therefore. For ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” – Mark 13:35-36

In the parable of the Ten Virgins, what did the five wise virgins do?

At that time in history, a lamp would need to be refilled every 15 minutes to keep it burning. The charred ends of the wicks would also need to be clipped to keep the lamp lit.

In the parable of the Talents, how many talents did the faithful servant return to the Master?

"After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, 'Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.'" –Mark 25:19-20

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