What are some examples of simple parables

The rule of God as the central concept of the preaching of Jesus
(P. Müller, Jesus and no end; in Schöneberger Hefte, 1/98)

The central term in the preaching of Jesus is "the rule of God". This emerges consistently from the entire synoptic tradition.
What Jesus says about the present and the future, his ideas about life and concrete behavior, the images he presents, the stories he tells - all of this has a common point of reference in God's rulership.

This is particularly evident in the Parableswhich as a rule - and rightly - are understood as authentic Jesus tradition. Although parables belong in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless have a special character within the framework of this tradition.

For example, the comparison of Israel with a vineyard can already be found in Isa 5: 1-7. In the parable of the wicked winemakers (Mk 12: 1-12). this comparison is recorded, but at the same time interpreted independently. Both in terms of literature and content, Jesus' parables show clear characteristics of independence. What Joachim Jeremias formulated decades ago (the parables are "original stones of tradition" from Jesus) is therefore still valid ...

In the pictures and stories that Jesus presents, everyday experiences are taken up and made transparent to a certain extent. The experiences point beyond themselves, become an image, a likeness for God and his rulership. This leads to very characteristic and sometimes very unconventional accentuations: The mustard seed is not only told in the sense of the proverbial smallness, but also in a process of amazing growth, which for that very reason can become an image for the rule of God; The story is of a father who preserves love for his "prodigal son" without any conditions; From a vineyard owner who does not pay his workers based on what they do, but based on what they need.

That means: the experience of everyday life becomes the point of contact for Jesus' proclamation of the rule of God; but at the same time the knowledge of the usual is broken up and thus opened up to a premonition of the rule of God which transcends human experience.

Overall, the preaching of Jesus is determined by the expectation that God's will and rulership will soon prevail in the world. To completely deny this eschatological expectation of the preaching of Jesus can only be brought into harmony with the sources if one excludes all statements about the future as secondary.
But there is absolutely no reason to do so. Another question is, of course, how the future and the present are related in the preaching of Jesus.

A very informative text in this context is the Our Father (Mt 6: 9-13). Here requests that refer to the future (above all the two so-called "you requests": Your name be sanctified, your kingdom come) are combined with requests whose horizon is the present (the "we requests": ours give us daily bread today, forgive us our debts, do not lead us into temptation). This connection of the requests indicates a basic structure of the preaching of Jesus: Because the rulership of God is coming, it is already having an effect on the present life. The present is already brought under the will of God, who will finally break the ground in the future (just as the mustard plant in the seed is already there, even if not yet fully grown, or in such a way that the poor, the hungry, the weeping in the Beatitudes, Luke 6.20f, the change in their situation is already promised).

For this reason, expectations for the future and ethics are closely related in the preaching of Jesus. The will of God that is breaking through, according to Jesus' understanding, is the will to salvation, for Israel, but also for other people (cf. Mt 8: 10f).

The behavior of people towards one another should therefore already be based on this will of God in the present. This means that certain conventional ideas of salvation (e.g. salvation exclusively for Israel or the pious) are called into question. The separation into good and bad can - viewed through the eyes of God - look different from what people would like to imagine. Against this background, the preaching of Jesus also includes the idea of ​​judgment (cf. Mt 18: 23ff). Anyone who does not do the will of God (Mt 7:21) closes access to God's rulership for himself. And conversely, the expectation of the rule of God releases an ethical energy, which in concrete behavior extends to the rule of God.

This ethical energy becomes concrete in the conduct of Jesus. That he got involved with marginal settlers of the society of that time is broadly documented and is raised against him by Jesus' opponents as a reproach (Mt 11: 19f). Apparently, the feasts in the houses of "tax collectors and sinners" are an essential feature of Jesus' actions. But Jesus also gets involved with the sick, the handicapped, with children (cf. on these groups exemplarily Mt 21: 10-17) and with women, also with those with a dubious reputation, i.e. people who for various reasons according to the prevailing opinion were flawed.

This turning of Jesus to the minors and the minor (cf. Mt 11: 25-30) is not only a sign of an alert social consciousness, but is closely related to his preaching. The reason why Jesus invites himself into the house of the tax collector Zacchaeus shows this clearly (Lk 19.9): He too is a son of Abraham, he too belongs to Israel, he too belongs to the people to whom God turns. Because human boundaries and divisions are called into question under the aspect of the coming rule of God, this rule already gains its own momentum for the present behavior.


1. Write out central terms that explain the concept of God's rulership and explain them!
2. Examine the parables mentioned. What do they have to do with the rulership of God?