Matthew 13

pearl_of_great_price.jpgGreetings!  This first parable (“a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson”) is one where Jesus explains what it means (starting in v. 18).   He spoke in parables to disguise the message from the Pharisees who had already decided not to believe him (they attributed his powers to Satan). 

The Parable of the Sower

 1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear.”

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

 11He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;  though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
   ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
 15For 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.’ 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

 18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

The Parable of the Weeds

The weeds are false teachers and false believers.  The weeds look just like the wheat so it can be hard to tell them apart.  God is merciful in letting them stay.  It reminds me of a good question to ask if people want to know why God doesn’t just remove all evil now: If God removed every element of evil from the world at midnight tonight, where would you be at 12:01? 

 24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

 27“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?’

 28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
      “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

 29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let 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.’ ”

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

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

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

 34Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35So 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.”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

 36Then 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.”

 37He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

 40“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The 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. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

V. 41 has Jesus (“the Son of Man”) sending out his angels, another claim to his deity.  Angels are mentioned roughly 270 times in the Bible, but they are often misunderstood.  There are fallen angels (Satan and his demons who rebelled against God) and countless other angels who worship God, communicate his messages, carry out his will and protect people.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

 I have heard these passages interpreted two ways, both of which work for me.  One is that Israel or the church is the treasure or the pearl, and Jesus gives up everything to obtain them.  The other is the reverse: Jesus is the treasure / pearl and we should give up everything to follow him.

44“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.

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

The Parable of the Net

 47“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When 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. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 51“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
      “Yes,” they replied.

 52He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

A Prophet Without Honor

This is one of the passages referring to Jesus’ siblings.  Mary was not a perpetual virgin.  Even if Jesus didn’t have brothers and sisters, it would have been sinful for Mary to withhold sex from her husband for their whole marriage.  Sex inside marriage is not a sin.   

53When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54Coming 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. 55“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at him.
      But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

 58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

What passages stood out to you, and why?

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2 Responses

  1. couple things to say.
    1. i feel like lately i’m seeing somewhere (won’t name city or church, it is not near me but friends of mine used to be very involved) it resembles the illustration of the weeds and the wheat… God not pulling up the weeds so not to disrupt the wheat… It is a church where the pastor has been baby stepping the wrong way… till now it is so blatant it is hard for me to understand why more don’t see it. It has now even become part of their membership (they now have levels- or will soon) level 1 membership has to sign a contract of their loyalty to him…. How much more blatant can it get, it used to be a lot less obvious. at any rate it is still a huge growing church. many people have been finding Jesus and people that aren’t close to leadership really are learning wonderful things from the bible and growing by leaps and bounds. This passage spoke to my questions of God of letting this continue… but there are fruits when the word is preached and is his time, should this pastor not turn back to him… the Lord will deal with him.

    2. My biggest pitfall with the seed has always been the thorns. The worries of this world and life is my weakness. Not always, but it is the one that I fight most. God Often brings this passage to my mind/heart.

  2. Thanks for sharing that. I think the parable of the seeds was probably meant to work on the major level, in that we end up being one type of seed. But I also see myself as different types at different times – I used to be the path, and now alternate between good soil and the thorny conditions.

    Hopefully the pastor you mentioned will come around. Talk about thorns! God works despite our imperfections, or I suppose nothing would ever get done.

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