SOON AFTER his journey through southern Galilee, Jesus began to teach in a new form, that of telling stories to the people. Everybody likes to listen to a story, and sometimes a story will go to the heart when the plain truth will fail. Story-tellers have always been very abundant in the East, where Jesus lived. Even today may be found everywhere men who go from place to place telling stories, and the people flock around them and listen to their stories from morning until night.
But the stories that Jesus told were very different from those of the Eastern story-tellers. His stories were told to teach some great truth, and on that account were called "parables." A parable is a story which is true to life--that is, a story which might be true, not a fairy story--and which also has in it some teaching of the truth.
One day Jesus went out of the city of Capernaum and stood on the beach by the Sea of Galilee. A great crowd of people gathered around him, for all the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees could not keep the common people away from Jesus. The throng was so great, crowding around Jesus, that as before he stepped into a boat and told his disciples to push it out a little from the shore. Then he sat down in the boat, fronting the great multitude that filled the sloping beach.