When interpreting a parable – or anything Jesus taught – we should consider it in the context he was presenting the parable in. If we dig deeply to uncover the setting Jesus was speaking in or about, Jesus’ teaching takes on more power.
We give several examples to illustrate the power of Jesus teaching in context: When Jesus invited the thirsty to come to him, he was in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. Water was an important part of this festival, and he was likely standing near the water gate, so that the water reinforced his point (John 7:2,37,38). When he said he was the Light of the World in John 8:12, he was likely near candlesticks in the temple during the Feast of Hanukkah. Jesus’ claim to be the Bread of Life came just after he fed over 5,000 people in John 6.