Matthew 13


‘That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.’ Matthew 13:1-2

Jesus’ ministry was breaking barriers on all fronts and came in two stages. 1. Preaching. 2. Teaching.

The teaching was usually done in the synagogue not outdoors by the seashore and so here we see teaching happening in a different place and in a different way, with the use of parables. This was something which was never done in the synagogues.

He taught and spoke in parables in a way that people could understand. This is a lesson all preachers and teachers need to learn, keep them simple. Jesus uses illustrations and leaves those listening to discover truth, if people were interested they would come back to ask for more details.

Notice that Jesus got into a boat, there would have been a small rowing boat which would take the disciples further out to the main fishing boat which was larger. We see this happening later when is asleep on the boat, Mark 4:35-41.

The Parable Of The Sower

‘Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9

I have shared a lot of stories over the years but when it comes to parables and storytelling Jesus will always be the Master.

What Is A Parable?

The word ‘Parable’ comes from the Greek word ‘Parabole’, which literally means a placing beside, a comparison, equivalent to or to compare. Some say that a parable is ‘an earthly story with a heavenly meaning’ but a parable is more than that.

The dictionary defines a parable as ‘a short figurative story, designed to convey some truth or moral lesson.’ Or ‘a brief story using events or facts of everyday life to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth.’

But parables come in many different styles and forms. In Luke 4:22-23, we have an example of a parable in the form of a ‘Proverb’. Again in Luke 5:36-39, we find Jesus sharing a parable in the form of a ‘metaphor’ to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

And there are many other forms of parables that Jesus used too. But the point is that Jesus used parables as a form of teaching. It wasn’t the only form of teaching He used but it was certainly a form He liked to use a lot.

Throughout the gospels there are over 30 parables of Jesus recorded in some style or another. Most of them are well known to many people but all of them are classics and as I said earlier, Jesus was the Master teacher when it came to parables.

Now notice how Jesus starts the parable and how He ends the parable. He starts by saying, ‘Listen’ and ends by saying, ‘He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ It didn’t just mean listening to what I’ve just said, it means to think about it, pay attention to what I’ve just said.

Although this is called ‘the parable of the sower’, the key to understanding this parable is understanding that the seed is the Word of God and so maybe it should be called ‘the parable of the soil’. Jesus frequently taught in parables. A parable is a story with a spiritual application. Here, Jesus described a farmer who went out to sow seed in his field.

Naturally, as he went along scattering it with his hand, the seed fell onto different types of ground. The harvest depended on the kind of soil where the seed fell. Jesus described four types of people who hear the word of the Gospel.

The first type is like hard-packed soil. These hard-hearted people do not let the word penetrate their life; they reject it immediately because they have closed their minds.

The second type is like seed sown in rocky places. The idea here is of a thin layer of topsoil covering a large rock. When the seed is sown in such a place, it will germinate and grow in the shallow soil, but it will not develop deep roots.

When the sun comes out and it doesn’t rain for a few days, the plant will wither and die. This represents a person who eagerly receives the word, but doesn’t develop roots through faith and Bible study. This person will not have the ability to withstand the temptations and persecutions that come along in life.

Third, Jesus described the thorny soil. In this ground, the plant is overshadowed by taller weeds which suffocate fruit production. This soil symbolizes people who receive the word and although they allow it to continue in their lives, permit competing interests to dwarf it. These other influences may not be bad things in themselves, but they dominate the person’s life so much that the seed can’t bear fruit.

Finally, Jesus described good soil in which plants bear abundant fruit. This soil represents Christians who are diligent in the service of God.

‘The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” Matthew 13:10

Jesus said He speaks in parables so that He can reveal secrets about the kingdom of heaven.

And the parable He just shared did exactly what the parable was designed to do. It split the people into two groups, those who were interested in truth and those who weren’t.

Because a large crowd isn’t surrounding Jesus anymore, the text says that ‘when he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him.’ There were only a few that asked Him what the parable was about. There were only a few people who were really interested in these truths.

Why did Jesus speak in parables? Mark 4:10-13. His parables were designed to test His hearers, not an intelligence test but rather a spiritual responsiveness test.

They were designed to get a response, Mark 4:10-12 / Luke 8:9-10. But as Jesus says, if you can’t understand this parable, how will you understand any parable?

‘He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never Understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:11-15

And so what is Jesus saying here when He quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10. He’s saying they don’t want to turn to God and be forgiven because their hearts are so far away from Me.

He says My people have always seen, they’ve always heard but My people don’t want to listen and understand, because they are too stubborn, Isaiah 29:13 / Mark 7:6-8.

Jesus asks those who are listening, ‘don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?’ Mark 4:13. Jesus is saying this secret about the kingdom of heaven is so easy to understand. He says it’s so plain and obvious and yet none of you can understand it!

He’s telling them that they need to be able to understand this parable so that they can go on and understand other parables He will teach them. It’s much the same as Paul says to the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 / Hebrews 5:11-14.

‘But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’  Matthew 13:16-17

The disciples were blessed because they used their eyes to see and their ears to hear, that is, they were open to Jesus’ teaching and as a result were blessed, Matthew 16:17 / John 20:29.

Many of the Old Testament prophets and righteous people who lived by faith longed to see what the disciples were now seeing, they longed to hear the teachings Christ was teaching His disciples.

In other they longed to hear the wonderful things which Jesus was revealing to His disciples, John 8:56 / Galatians 4:4-5 / Hebrews 11:13 / Hebrews 11:25-26 / Hebrews 11:39-40 / 1 Peter 1:10-12.

Jesus Explains The Parable Of The Sower

‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus taught and explained the parable using an everyday life event, He uses the illustration of a farmer sowing his seed. Have you ever wondered why some people become Christians and then a little later they fall away? Have you ever wondered why some people aren’t Christians?

Some people hear the Gospel of Christ is preached, they know what they need to do to become obedient to the Gospel, and yet, nothing ever seems to happen.

Maybe the best way to answer that question is by letting Jesus ask the question He was asking.

How could the scribes and Pharisees misrepresent God the way they did? How could the disciples and those listening not understand what Jesus was teaching?

The way the Word is being sown or being preached isn’t the problem, the problem is the way people receive it. In other words, those people who are honestly searching for the truth, it’s those people whom the truth will become much clearer.

In His explanation, He says that people are like the place where the seed lands, Mark 4:3-8. He’s talking about 4 different soils, which represent 4 different reactions or responses when people hear the Word of God.

We need to remember whom the Word of God is being preached to, it’s being preached to sinners. People whose hearts have been hardened with sin over the years.

And so Jesus said that the birds are a picture of the devil himself, who comes down and takes the seed away, Mark 4:15. But the reason the devil can so easily take it away is because the Word of God has no impression on these people at all. They’re so hardened in sin, they don’t even understand the significance of the words being said.

In other words, the path is hard, the seed has got nowhere to plant its roots. They hear the Gospel but don’t hang around long enough to find out what it means to them. Because when people are hardened with sin, they always think that whatever’s being said doesn’t apply to them.

Jesus goes on to describe another reaction to the Gospel, people hear the Word of God, they accept it with gladness and joy but they have no root in themselves, Mark 4:16-17.

And so Jesus says that they are OK for a while but as soon as any persecution or worry comes along from being a follower of God, they just give up.

So the Word that was planted in them at the start just springs up very quickly but the soil was lacking, Mark 4:5. He also said in Luke 8:6 that the soil ‘had no moisture’. And so when the sun comes out, it’s quickly burnt up because it has no root and lacks moisture.

Jesus is saying this, there are hearts out there that will receive the truth with great readiness and joy, Luke 8:13. He says it’s not until the heat gets turned up, that these people fall away. It worries me when people become Christians without even studying the Word of God first.

People need to know and understand Who and what they are committing to, Luke 14:26-35. Because Jesus says, that whenever the heat of tribulation or persecution comes along because of the Word of God, their delight in the truth just withers away and dries up.

Jesus goes on to describe another type of response to the Gospel. In the case of the seed that fell among the thorns, there’s nothing wrong with the soil, Mark 4:18-19.

It’s not too hard like the seed that fell along the path, there’s enough soil for the seed to take root, unlike the seed that fell on a rocky place. It’s not the soil that’s the problem, it’s what is in the soil around it. It’s the environment in which it’s living in is the problem.

One of the ways that Satan likes to attack God’s people is with worry, worry is the greatest joy stealer there is. Jesus says 3 things steal your joy as a Christian. He says 3 things can stop you from becoming a fruitful follower of the Word.

1. ‘The cares of this world’.

People are so caught up in this life that they forget about the next. They worry about their jobs, they worry about their homes, and they worry about having enough money to get by. Jesus says we shouldn’t be getting distracted by anything, He’ll take care of all our worries, Matthew 6:25-34 / Matthew 6:33 / 1 Peter 5:7.

2. ‘The deceitfulness of riches’.

The world’s biggest con these days is this, ‘get rich fast and you’ll be happy’. And that’s because they realise that in a world that’s so commercial, people are lusting after the quick fix answer to their problems or a get me rich fast answer to your problems. Jesus tells us that, that’s not the fruit of the Spirit like we find in Galatians 5:22-23.

He says that those riches are the fruit of the world. He says people are being deceived into thinking that material goods are the answer to life. The only answer to this life is Jesus Christ Himself and if you want answers about this life then you need to look to Jesus, John 14:6. Because He’s the only one who has the answers for this life.

3. ‘The pleasures of this life’.

Everyone likes to have fun and there’s nothing wrong with that but the problem comes when fun becomes more important than godly living. God has given us the gift of pleasure, which in itself can be innocent. But we need to remember that the world’s idea of enjoyment is totally opposite to God’s idea of enjoyment.

These 3 things or these 3 thorns that we have just mentioned are constantly in the environment that we live in every day. And what they do is smother and choke the Word of God. And so Jesus says, the reason that these people don’t bear any fruit is because of these thorns.

He says, they look promising, they look like they’re going to bear fruit but they never do and so they end up choking to death. He says the thorns soak up all the moisture and riches that are in the soil and so the world ends up with all their attention and God just gets the dregs of whatever is left. They are starved of the truth, which is found in the word of God.

Then finally speaks about the good soil, Mark 4:19-20. This soil is the total opposite of the three other soils mentioned.  These are the people whose hearts are soft and tender, they received and cherished the seed, when it was planted.

These people soak up the Word of God and gain strength from it and go on to produce a crop of ‘thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown’, Luke 8:15.

They produce much fruit and it’s these people who are the long-distance faith runners, who are faithful to the end. These are the people who plant good seed in people’s hearts and are rewarded with a good crop, that is a good number of people responding to the Gospel message, 1 Corinthians 3:6.

And it’s to those people that Jesus asks, ‘do you want to know a secret?’ Mark 4:11.

Don’t be surprised when people don’t want to hear about Jesus. Don’t be surprised when people become Christians and only last a short time. Don’t be surprised when people look like they’re going to be great ambassadors for Christ but they fall away.

The secret is this, don’t give up planting the seed, but persevere, you never know what kind of response you’re going to get.

Which Soil Are You?

Everyone has a place in the parable of the sower. Jesus wants us to evaluate which type of soil we are.

1. Hopefully, we won’t be the hardened, wayside soil. If we are, we will close our minds to the truth and refuse to allow the gospel to penetrate our hearts and change our life.

2. Perhaps we’ll be the rocky soil. On the surface, we appear to be growing and serving the Lord enthusiastically.

But we aren’t deepening our roots through faith, through study and through a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When times become tough, we will fall away, and others will marvel because on the surface it looked like we were doing so well.

3. If we end up being the thorny soil, we will continue to ‘be a Christian,’ but our life will be dominated by other activities and we will never have much time or attention to share with spiritual concerns.

This is probably the most subtle danger because the plant in thorny soil never completely falls away. As a result, we can soothe our conscience and believe that we are still doing OK, when in fact, we aren’t bearing fruit.

4. Ideally, we will be the good soil that bears the fruit of righteousness for the Lord.

Thoughts About The Seed

Jesus explained that the seed represents the word of God, Luke 8:11. Many lessons can be learned by the analogy between seed and the word.

For example, a seed always produces after its kind. That is, rice seed always produces rice plants, corn seed produces corn plants and pumpkin seed pumpkin plants. There are no exceptions.

By the plant that results, one can determine what seed was planted. So, it is in the spiritual realm. When the pure word of God is planted, the resulting plants are Christians.

Seed Never Changes

It would be theoretically possible to eliminate pumpkin plants from the face of the earth. Yet if pumpkin seeds were preserved, someone many years later could plant them, and again produce pumpkins. So also in Christ. The seed is the word of God, 1 Peter 1:23-25.

Even if there had not been servants of Christ on the earth for a long time, when people returned to following the Bible only, they would become Christians. Our goal should be to reproduce pure disciples of Christ in the twentieth century, just like they were in the first.

The Parable Of The Weeds

‘Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus explains the meaning of this parable later in this chapter, and so, we’ll identify the different characters when we get there.

Jesus again is describing the kingdom of heaven to a man who sowed good seed in his field, however, while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Instead of keeping watch over the field, the person in charge was asleep, Galatians 6:1.

The weeds were a plant which looked like wheat until they became fully grown. The weeds would hamper the growth of the wheat and the harvest. the farmer wouldn’t know that the weeds had been sown in the field along with the wheat until it was harvest time when the grain was formed.

The farmer couldn’t remove the weeds while the wheat was growing, otherwise, the wheat would also be destroyed in the removal process. And so, the farmer would have to wait until harvest time to separate the weeds from the wheat.

The Parable Of The Mustard Seed

‘He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

Everything God created has a purpose and we can learn many lessons from nature, and that includes the mustard seed. During Biblical times it was very common practice to talk about the mustard seed as one of the smallest seeds.

Now strictly speaking it wasn’t the smallest seed around at this time but the tiny mustard seed was used to speak of anything minute. For example, Jesus spoke of faith, as a grain of mustard seed, Matthew 17:20 / Luke 17:6.

The Palestinian mustard plant, because of its size wasn’t set out in the garden but it was usually found in an open field, and these things grow to between 10 and 12 feet in height.

Now when it comes to shrubs, this was the giant, its branches were so large they would spread out like a tree. And so because of its size, it would very often attract many birds.

During the time of Jesus, birds would often be seen in the branches of the mustard plant as they fed on the small black seeds of the mustard pods. And like we know about all of Jesus’ parables, He reveals a secret about how the kingdom of God grows from an everyday event.

1. Just because something is little, doesn’t mean it’s not important.

When you look at the small mustard seed and you see how microscopic it is, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s not worth much. But when you talk to someone who grows these plants you will find exactly how valuable it is.

As a spice, mustard is sold in seed or powder form and even today you can buy it in paste form. In other words, the little mustard seed by itself doesn’t look so important, but man’s experience teaches him not to minimise it.

The little things in life should never be discounted and that’s because just like a grain of mustard seed, they increase in size beyond imaginable proportion.

2. However important little things may be, the parable focuses on the consequences of little beginnings.

Momentous deeds and earth circling revolutions can be traced back to a speck, like a germ of mustard seed. When you think about Christianity, the world’s greatest movement had its beginnings in a manger in Bethlehem, Luke 2:10-12.

The proud and busy Roman world didn’t take any notice of the day when Jesus was born. And it casually took notice of His life, and even when Jesus died, the Roman world didn’t care much, why?

Because Jesus was born in a manger, He was a carpenter from Nazareth and when He died, He was now gone, so much for a great leader! And certainly, in outward appearances, Jesus looked less than the least of all seeds, His followers were counted by the dozen, not by the thousands.

And yet, from only a handful of disciples, and despite their leader’s death on a cross. There sprang into existence the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which you and I are members of today. Twenty-one centuries have come and gone, and today He still remains the central figure for much of the human race.

We should learn the lesson from the mustard seed. A thing may be small, almost without hope but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to succeed. Jesus is saying that small beginnings can succeed because it’s God who is behind it.

3. Don’t miss the point of this parable.

Some people like to believe that the branches, which Jesus talks about here, are symbolic of modern-day denominations. In other words just as the birds come and sit in the branches of the tree, so it’s said that people can come and enter the different branches or denominations of the church.

But there are a few problems with this interpretation, they fail to ask the questions we have been asking with every parable we’ve looked at. Who was Jesus speaking to and what did it mean to them? Jesus was speaking to His disciples, Matthew 13:10.

Was denominationalism around in Jesus’ day? No! Some people try to understand the parable by looking at Christianity today. What they need to do is look at Christianity as we find it in the first century. It’s all too easy to make something mean something, which Jesus never meant it to mean.

It’s too easy to speak of branches of the church, but in the days of Christ and His apostles, these different so-called branches or divisions of Christianity were unknown.

The Bible nowhere teaches that there are many churches, the Bible always talks about the unity of the church as in singular, Matthew 16:18.

In other words, some teach that this parable remained unfulfilled until the recent rise of denominationalism! This takes their interpretation too far, there’s no need to make everything in the parable mean something.

The branches of the mustard tree aren’t the main focus of Jesus’ attention any more than the man who sowed the mustard seed or the nests that were made in the tree’s branches.

The point of the parable is simply that the microscopic mustard seed grows into a tree. large enough for the birds to come and nest in it. The man who sowed the seed, the field or garden, the nests, the birds themselves, are all incidental to the one central truth of the parable.

And that’s this, the kingdom of God, even with a small beginning would prosper and prevail over all other kingdoms, Daniel 2:31-45. That’s what Jesus is getting at, that’s what He is teaching His disciples.

Do you realise that you are a part of a kingdom that will never be destroyed and will last forever? Daniel 2:44 / Philippians 3:17-20.

The Parable The Yeast

‘He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33

Jesus told a parable here, which would have highly offended those who were listening, Luke 13:21. We might be thinking well, what’s the big deal, He’s talking about yeast. Well, to understand why they were offended we need to enter the mind of the Jews again.

In Jewish thinking, yeast or leaven is almost always connected with an evil influence. The Jews connected fermentation with deterioration and rottenness, and yeast stood for that which was evil, Matthew 16:6 / 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 / Galatians 5:9.

So now we can understand why the Jews would struggle with this parable. They would be thinking, how could the kingdom of God be compared to yeast? How can God’s kingdom be compared with evil?

Remember when God spoke to Moses and Aaron about what the Israelites were to do in preparation for the Passover? One of the ceremonies of preparation for the Passover feast was that every scrap of yeast had to be taken out of the house and burned and destroyed, Exodus 12:8-10.

I believe that Jesus chose this illustration of the kingdom deliberately. Imagine if you were a Jew and you were there listening to Jesus, there would be a certain shock in hearing that the kingdom of God is compared to yeast. But that shock would arouse interest and get attention, as an illustration from an unusual and unexpected source always does.

Jesus spoke of yeast in the good sense, He saw how the women use it for a good purpose to make light and wholesome bread. And so when you look at yeast the way Jesus looks at yeast, you can understand that the kingdom of God is like yeast in many ways.

1. The yeast of Christ works from the inside out.

When you’re making bread, you know that yeast will do nothing to your mixture unless you mix it through, and that’s because yeast does its work from within.

In other words, yeast can do nothing to the dough unless it’s put inside, it has to get right inside the dough to work properly. And Christianity works the same way.

The influence that changes a person works within a person’s heart. The task of Christianity is to make new men, not new things, Mark 7:21-22. It’s not the outward things that are the problem, it’s the human heart that’s the problem. In other words, once the new people are created, the new world will follow.

A man isn’t converted unless he’s converted within, a person isn’t converted unless their heart is changed. So Christianity is like yeast, it’s not the outside trying to get in, but the inside trying to get out, Proverbs 27:19.

2. There’s real quality in the transforming power of yeast.

Did you know that when yeast is put into the baking meal, it changes the ingredients? It does, what happens is that the dough is turned into a bubbling, seething mass.

When Christ and His kingdom are introduced to people, great changes take place. And that’s because Christianity is a disturbing thing, it disturbs people, it upsets people, Acts 16:20-21.

The Gospel of Christ upsets people and some people don’t like it, Acts 17:5-8. When Christians talk about the Gospel, people get very angry. But why do they get upset? They get upset because God’s Word exposes their sin, Hebrews 4:12.

Sometimes you don’t even have to say a word about God but because they know you’re a Christian, you’re exposing their darkness, and people don’t like being exposed, John 3:20.

Paul says when a person lets the yeast of Christ work in them and through them, they have new thoughts, Colossians 3:1-4. A Christian starts to think differently about themselves and the world they live in, Colossians 3:5-7.

But something else happens to a person when they accept the yeast of Christ. When you become a Christian your idea of work changes, you get new ambitions of work and service, Matthew 20:25-28. Jesus can take people and totally transform their lives, 2 Corinthians 5:14-17.

3. The yeast of Christ cannot be contained.

Yeast works contagiously, Matthew 13:33. When yeast gets put into the mixture it doesn’t stop until it has spread through the whole mixture. And Jesus says that’s exactly what the kingdom of God is like, it spreads like an infection.

When you think about some of Jesus’ first disciples, other people brought them to Him, John 1:40-45. Jesus said that God’s kingdom grows and spreads like yeast and it cannot be contained. Because God’s people just can’t help but tell others the news concerning the kingdom of God.

‘Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” Matthew 13:34-35

Those who have searching hearts will hear the message of the parables. Because of their desire for and love of truth, they will not reject the message that is being communicated through the parables, Acts 17:11 / 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

The truth that is given through the means of metaphorical language is understood only by those who have open minds and hearts. Those who have closed minds and hearts with hidden agendas will twist the message of God that has been given in metaphorical language, 2 Peter 3:15-16.

Understanding the kingdom of God as it is explained in the parables, therefore, becomes a test to determine if one has an open mind.

If one comes to the parables with an established theology, he will not be able to objectively discover the message of the parables. It was for this reason that the scribes and Pharisees failed to understand the kingdom of God that was revealed through the parables.

Jesus quotes Asaph’s words from Psalm 78:2, which showed that even in the choice of that teaching method Christ was following exactly the guidelines laid down in prophecy.

The ‘things hidden’, imply that Jesus’ teaching was going to be direct. The kingdom things in this context concerning His direct teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven.

‘Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Matthew 13:36

After leaving the crowd Jesus enters a house and His disciples ask Him to explain the parable of the weeds to them.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The desire of the disciples for an explanation of that parable is understandable. Even with the Lord’s explanation, men do not fully understand it, as evidenced by the most diverse opinions regarding it. It must have appeared dark indeed before the Lord illuminated it.’

Jesus Explains The Parable Of The Weeds

‘He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’ Matthew 13:37-43

In answer to the disciples’ request, Jesus identifies each element in the parable.

The Sower is Christ Himself, who is proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, Matthew 4:23. The field represents the world. This field is where the Son of Man came to sow the seed, Matthew 28:18.

The good seed, that is, the wheat, are the people of the kingdom. These are those who gladly own Jesus as their Lord and King, submitting to Him freely.

The weeds are the people of the evil one. These weeds are those who offend and practice lawlessness. They are within the Lord’s dominion, His realm, but they clearly are not submitting to the His authority. Their actions reveal that they are really ‘people of the evil one’.

The enemy who sowed them is the devil. This is the one who tried to tempt Christ in the wilderness and failed, Matthew 4:1-11. Now he tries to destroy the efforts of Christ to save souls and enlarge the influence of His kingly rule through his clever yet dastardly deeds.

The harvest is the end of the age. This ‘age’ is when the Gospel of the kingdom is being preached, it’s also when people who receive the Gospel can become the ‘people of the kingdom’.

In other words, it is this present age, the Christian age, Colossians 1:13 / Revelation 1:9. This is an ‘age’ that will end with a great ‘harvest’. It is identified elsewhere as the glorious coming and appearance of our Lord, Matthew. 26:31-32 / 1 Timothy 6:14-15.

The reapers are the angels. These are the angels that will accompany Christ when He comes again, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. They will separate the wicked from among the just, Matthew 13:49.

Jesus stresses the main points of the parable. The problem of the ‘weeds’ will not be fully addressed until the ‘harvest’, Matthew 13:40.

This is done out of consideration for the ‘good seed’, Matthew 13:29. It is at the end of the age that the Son of Man will finally resolve this problem, Matthew 13:41.

With His angels He will ‘will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.’, i.e. the people of the evil one. Those so gathered out of His kingdom will be properly dealt with! Matthew 13:42.

They will be cast into ‘the blazing fire’, where there will be ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth!’ After the harvest, the righteous will ‘shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father’. Matthew 13:43.

The Parable Of The Hidden Treasure

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’ Matthew 13:44

Unlike the world we live in today where we have banks and building societies, the people of Jesus’ day didn’t have these facilities. The safest place to keep your valuables in Biblical times was buried in the ground, Joshua 7:21 / Matthew 25:25. Many people would bury their treasures under the ground, especially if they knew that war was on its way.

We all know that Palestine is steeped in history, especially when it comes to wars. And as usual, Jesus teaches a parable about something that was very relevant to those who were listening.

It was common practice for people to bury their treasure in the ground until the war was over and then they would return to find it again when there was peace in the land.

In this little parable, there are two main points that Jesus is stressing.

1. The joy of this man’s discovery.

This man was going about his daily business, doing his work when he found the treasure. It wasn’t so much by accident, ok, he stumbled across it but he was working diligently in the field. And I say diligently because this treasure would have been buried deep in the ground.

He wouldn’t just be scraping the surface of the ground in his day’s work, he would have been digging deep into the ground. And it’s while he’s digging deep that he discovers the hidden treasure. And it’s then that he hides it again and goes on his way.

The treasure is the Gospel, the Word of God itself and it’s called treasure because sometimes it takes a little effort to find it. We’re not talking about a physical treasure here that this man found, we’re talking about a spiritual treasure, Isaiah 33:6.

We’re talking about salvation, wisdom and knowledge, we’re talking about fearing the Lord Himself.

2. What’s the Gospel worth?

This man was willing to give up everything to make the treasure his own. And it wasn’t even an effort for him to give up everything, he was happy doing it.

This treasure gave him so much joy that he was even willing to sacrifice everything he had to attain it. He wanted salvation so much you couldn’t put a price on it.

It’s only our salvation that brings lasting joy, Isaiah 12:1-6 / Philippians 3:7-9 / Philippians 4:4. A disciplined life is never easy, Matthew 16:24, but the joy that you receive in return from doing God’s will far outweigh the sacrifices you need to make, Matthew 6:21.

The Parable Of The Pearl

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.’ Matthew 13:45-46

Historians tell us that in the ancient world pearls had a very special place in men’s hearts. People from all over the world desired to possess a lovely pearl, not only for its monetary value but also because of its beauty.

Unlike many people today, back then people would take time and find pleasure simply by handling it and thinking about it. They found a certain joy in simply possessing and looking at a pearl.

And the historian writers tell us that the main sources of these pearls were found around the shores of the Red Sea and around the coast of Britain. But they said that these merchants who went looking for these pearls would travel all over the world to find one pearl which was more beautiful than all the others they had seen.

But why would Jesus say that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl?

Just like the man who found the hidden treasure, they both found something that was beyond value. They both found the means to eternal life and just like the other guy, he too sold everything he had just to get it.

After all what price can you put on your salvation? How much is your soul worth to God? It cost God the price of His precious One and only Son, to make your salvation possible, Romans 5:6-8. That’s how much your soul is worth to God. Your soul means everything to God, and your salvation should mean everything to you.

Jesus also tells us that the pearl is like the kingdom of heaven because ‘it’s the most beautiful thing you could ever posses’. A soul saved is the most precious and beautiful thing we will ever see and witness, Luke 15:8-10 / John 14:21.

It’s not enough to know that something is valuable and beautiful. You need to know and then take hold of it and then live your life by it, Matthew 25:23 / James 2:26, and then you will discover how precious your salvation is to you.

We need to understand that there are other pearls we can find in life. There are many other things that people can find such as a good job and a nice home. People can find pearls in knowledge and art or even in serving other people.

It can be found in friendships and relationships. These are all lovely and beautiful pearls of life but the supreme and most precious pearl lies in seeking to do God’s will, Matthew 6:33.

Doing God’s will doesn’t belittle these other pearls but living your life in accordance with the will of God is the most precious and valuable thing you can possess. The man who found the hidden treasure in a field stumbled upon God’s will, while he was working.

But these sea merchants would deliberately travel all over the world to find a special pearl. He found him deliberately, he spent his whole life looking and searching for this gem of a pearl. He searched everywhere until he found what he was looking for and he did that because he knew exactly what he was looking for.

And no doubt he saw many pearls on his travels and he would have stopped and admired some of them because of their beauty. But how did he know which pearl was the most precious pearl?

I’m sure there are some pearls to be found within most religious groups but how do you know that the pearl you possess is the right pearl?

A good start would be to be like the people that Paul talked to about Christ in Acts 17:21. We should never go to any church and just sit there and accept what the preacher or teacher is telling us is true, 2 Timothy 2:15.

Go home with that same great eagerness and examine the Scriptures for yourself to see if what the preacher has told you was true or not.

The Parable Of The Net

‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 13:47-50

Jesus here describes the kingdom of God as the method of fishing used at that time. The net that Jesus mentioned is similar to a ‘seine’, a large net. This net was placed in the water, and a large circle was made with it.

Whatever was in this circle was trapped in the net. When the circle was completed and the net was full, it was pulled to shore and after the net was pulled to shore, the separation began. The good fish were gathered into vessels and anything bad was discarded.

The net, which represents the preaching of the Gospel, is cast out into the lake, which represents the world of the hearts of men. All sorts of fish are caught to represent those who respond to the Gospel.

There are multitudes of people, young and old, good and evil. The net gathers ‘all kinds’, that is, the Gospel is publicly proclaimed to all and when this is done the gospel net draws all kinds.

The meaning of this parable is straightforward. At the end of the world, there will be a separation, the wicked will be separated from the just and note that He doesn’t say anything about what will happen to those who are just.

He speaks only about what will happen to the wicked, they will be thrown into ‘the blazing fire’, and in there, there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. This place is obviously a reference to hell, Matthew 3:11-12 / Matthew 8:12 / Matthew 25:41 / 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 / Revelation 20:15.

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:51-52

After sharing all of these parables, Jesus now asks if they have understood them, He wants to know if their minds have been opened to what He has been teaching them.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Divine truths must not be lightly passed over. Our Lord’s question here shows them to be matters of the utmost weight and importance, and that they should be considered again and again, till they are thoroughly understood.’

The person who is responsible for the keeping of the family can instruct by using old truths that need new applications. The disciples understood the old truths and Jesus was in their presence with new teachings and applications of old truths.

Smith, in his commentary, says the following.

‘So there are these glorious things that we are constantly discovering in the richness in Christ and ever discovering new experiences in the old troops. And so the faithful householder who keeps bringing forth out of the treasury these glorious things.’

Dummelow, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The old and the new old truths which God had long made known to the Jews, as well as the new truth declared by Christ.’

A Prophet Without Honour

‘When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.” Matthew 13:53-57

Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, but it seems the teaching and the miracles that Jesus did were too much for those who knew Him from childhood. They weren’t prepared to accept Him for who He actually was.

Notice they don’t call Jesus the carpenter’s son, but ‘the carpenter’, this suggests by the time of this event, Jesus’ father, Joseph has already died. In Greek, the word ‘carpenter’ is ‘builder.’

Jesus certainly did have brothers and sisters, Matthew 1:25 / Matthew 12:46-50 / Mark 6:3, but here, He was the ‘local boy’ the village or town fathers couldn’t accept to be the Messiah at this time in His ministry, John 4:44.

Since they considered Him only a local personality, they didn’t accept Him as one who had authority over the supernatural, Genesis 19:22 / Genesis 32:25.

No wonder Jesus says, ‘a prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’ Mark 6:4 / Luke 4:16ff / John 4:44. Rejection usually comes from those who are closest to us, or from those who should know better.

‘And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.’ Matthew 13:58

He could do no miracles because the people weren’t driven by faith to go to Him. And so, once again Jesus is being rejected. The people in Nazareth forfeited an ideal opportunity to have the Lord with them.

Jesus went around the villages teaching, Matthew 9:35-38 / Mark 6:1-6, this one statement explains the ministry of Jesus, and thus gives an example to teachers who would function in following the example of Jesus’ ministry.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Christ quoted this same proverb on his other visit to Nazareth, Luke 4:16ff. The human side of Christ’s dual nature was foretold by Isaiah who noted that the Messiah would be ‘despised and rejected of men’, Isaiah 53:3. Nazareth provided the first in a series of rejections but it should be remembered that this was precisely what was prophesied, the very unbelief of the people becoming, therefore, a further testimony of his divinity.’

Great Opportunities

It is tragic to see people discarding the fantastic opportunity to be blessed by Jesus. In the country of the Gadarenes, they simply asked Jesus to leave, Mark 5:1-20.

Here in Nazareth, they refused to believe and therefore didn’t even bring their sick for Jesus to heal. As a result, they missed out on the opportunities that others, like Jairus and the woman with the bleeding, benefited from.

What about us? Do we take advantage of the opportunity to know Jesus and to be blessed by Him?

Go To Matthew 14