I have read many different explanations for this group of parables in many commentaries and on many websites (including this one). It never ceases to amaze me how often we try to draw out of scripture our own viewpoints. In trying to interpret these parables certain guidelines of interpretation have been distorted, and ignored. In an attempt to draw out "our" viewpoints we often approach a passage bringing additional info that could corrupt and distort the actual meaning.
The following are some very basic guidelines to follow: 1) observe, observe, observe! Don't try to break everything down to the smallest component in such a way that you miss the main point but rather try to see the big picture and how the small components relate to it. 2) Start with the text you are looking at! We often want to take other passages and "bring" them into our study. This has it's place, but should be done later. 3) Setting and Context are essential, not optional! What is going on? Who is involved? What happens before? What happens after? Are there any "keys" within the text that give us any clues or insight? Are there any themes? 4) Try and draw out what is being said or taught! What is being stated or taught in the passage is more important then what I want it to mean. Write out the results of your study of the text. 5) Check and double check! Now you can go to other passages and compare. Ask: Is there any scripture or biblical principle that conflicts with or contradicts the results of the study? We often get hung up on this one. Word studies, and cross-referencing are great, but when we do this we must also understand the context of those words and passages as well ( YEAH MORE STUDY! ). It is improper to take something outside the passage studied (including other scripture) and use it to completely change it's meaning just because we can. There must be valid reasons for doing so (e.g. The reults conflict or contradict other scripture). If there is no valid reason then it is probably best to leave the results as they are if you have spent adequate time and effort studying ( reading through it a few times and then seeing what everyone else says is not adequate studying). Just because we are not sitting in a classroom doesn't mean we stop learning and should stop studying!! I believe that if we will take the time and put forth the effort, these parables are not as difficult and confusing as we are making them out to be! So enjoy the journey and adventure of studying God's Word, hiding it in your herats and allowing it to transform our hearts and lives for God's Glory!
P.S The majority view isn't always the right one!