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The Word Picture: How Jesus Used 1-Sentence Stories

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

 In his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. (Mark 4:34, NLT)

A Word For Writers

The Word Picture: how Jesus used 1-sentence stories as illustrations with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #ChristianWriting #Storytelling #Copywriting

One thing that fascinates me about Jesus’s stories is that many are so short.

In fact, some are just one sentence long. They are quick word pictures.

For instance, in The Parable of the Yeast (Matthew 13:33), Jesus used one sentence to explain that the Kingdom of God may have small beginnings, but will grow exponentially – just as yeast, though tiny, allows dough to expand aggressively.

He used the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 14:44) – again, one sentence – to  illustrate that the Kingdom of God has inestimable value.

And the one-sentence Parable of the Storeroom (Matthew 13:52) demonstrates that those who understand the Kingdom of God are to share its good news liberally.

In each instance, Jesus paints a word picture to illustrate a truth.

A one-sentence story can be just as effective as a story that takes up nearly a full chapter. The distinguishing factor is not length, but rather the visual image you draw by using words. 

A Wise Word

Use word pictures – no matter the length – as illustrations.

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

Your Word is filled with word pictures. They are a powerful way to make a point. Show me how to find and use word pictures to give my writing color and clarity.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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