The parables remain vivid because they refuse to cater to our craving for tidy completion. Even though here or there one or another of the Gospel writer's gives way to the temptation to decode one of Jesus' parables. I think one stays closer to the rabbi's own pedagogy by refusing to do so. He wanted to shake people up, and when the parables are taken straight, with no chaser, that's exactly what they still do.

Jesus told parables, but he also acted out parables. Nearly everything he did was designed to get his radical message across, to unnerve some people while comforting others, to leave people so unhinged they had to rethink themselves and the world from the bottom up. This parabolic style of life also colored Jesus' mission as a healer.

Harvey Cox, When Jesus Came to Harvard