Matthew 13 and The Kingdom of Heaven
The Parable of the Sower
First, there is the Parable of the Sower in verses 1-9:
"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And He told them many things in parables, saying: 'A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.'” Matthew 13:1-9
As we tell people about the Gospel we are the sowers. As sowers, we so the seed of the Gospel everywhere we go. Some seeds will fall on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and still some of the seeds we sow will fall on good, fertile, ready-for-the-Gospel soil.
We must always remember that it is God who makes the seed of the Gospel grow. Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians? "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:6
The Purpose of the Parables
Then Jesus explains to the disciples the purpose behind His parables:
Then the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do you speak to them in parables?' And He answered them, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
Jesus spoke to the people in parables because they could not understand the secrets (or mysteries) of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus goes on to explain to the disciples that those who have understanding more will be given—even an abundance. However, people whose hearts have grown dull can no longer hear or see or understand with their hearts. But if they would only turn, Jesus says, "I would heal them." Jesus quotes from the Prophet Isaiah. Matthew repeats this same thought in chapter Matthew 25. "For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."(Matthew 25:29
The Parable of the Sower Explained
Then, Jesus goes a step further to help the people understand the relationship between the Parable of the Sower and the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the Word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the Word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23
When we sow the seeds of the Gospel, it falls:
The Parable of the Weeds
Another parable about sowing, but this one includes some weeds.
"He put another parable before them, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, 'Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'” Matthew 13:24-30
This man sowed good seed, "but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds." Do you ever feel like the enemy is sowing weeks in your fields of good wheat?
The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
Do you see how powerful a seed and a little leaven can be?
"He put another parable before them, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'
Prophecy and Parables
Again, Jesus quotes Isaiah.
"All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, He said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
Just as Jesus explained the Parable of the Sower, to the people, He explains the Parable of the Weeds to His disciples.
"Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, 'The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the Kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His Kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:36-43
One of my favorite parts of Matthew 13, and these parables, is found in verse 47, where it says, "the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind." I love the thought of Heaven being filled with people from every nation, all tribes, and peoples and languages. And I can't help but quote from Revelation 7 here about the great multitude that will assemble there someday.
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'” Revelation 7:9-12
Which of these parables about the Kingdom of Heaven is your favorite?
The parable of the hidden treasure has always conflicted me in many ways - was he being honest? What was doing in another man's field? I've always enjoyed the parable of weeds - the good and bad seemed so much clearer! I've enjoyed my time here resting in the parables! T
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