13 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And [a]large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables,
Lets define parable:
Parable/parabolay (3850 in the concordance) A teaching aid cast alongside the truth being taught. This gives greater understanding by using a striking and or familiar analogy. So a parable is an analogy that is used to reveal the truth being taught. Jesus used parables to illustrate the kingdom.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, [c]let him hear.”10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
So let me make an important note:
It’s very beneficial if we remember that Jesus was speaking to a multitude of Jews. They were seeing and hearing the person they had been waiting on with great expectation, but they didn’t perceive it or understand. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to break into the world, defeat all of Israel’s enemies, and set them up to rule. The king and the kingdom broke in, but it wasn’t how they expected. This is a central truth that runs through these parables in Matt. 13.
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
So Jesus gives us an explanation of His parable. This is important because we can see that it really is an analogy used to reveal the truth being taught. He lets us know that the parable isn’t about birds and vegetable seeds. This is important to understand because we have to apply it to all of the parables. For example we can’t say that the parable of the minas/talents/silver are about money. The money was the familiar concept used to reveal the truth being taught. (what I believe He was teaching will be another post for another time) It’s the same here, there is a truth being revealed that has nothing to do with birds, and veg seeds. The word of the kingdom is being sown into the earth; however, at the same time there is an enemy who steals it. Now remember the Jews were expecting the kingdom in power and domination. But the kingdom and in this passage specifically it’s word came in a way that it could be received by people, rejected by people, or stolen by the enemy, and where it was received it would bear much fruit. They were seeing and hearing but not perceiving and understanding. They weren’t watching for the king and the kingdom to arrive in this manner.
14-30 and 36-43
24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven [m]may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed [n]tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the [o]wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? [p]How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An [q]enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the [t]tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the [u]end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the [v]end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom [w]all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, [x]let him hear. (this would normally present a break in the chapter because the multitudes were gone; however, I included it here because it is the explanation of the parable)
So again the Jews were expecting the kingdom to come in power and bring about separation of good and evil, and the destruction of the unrighteous. But Jesus is saying that the kingdom is now in the world; however, it is alongside the enemy and his unrighteous. So even though the sons of the kingdom have received it’s reign and blessing they are still in a wicked world where there is a present enemy. This does not mean that the enemy is not defeated. D-day is not the same thing as V-day. D-day ensured victory for the allies in June of 1944; however, the war was not over in its finality until Sept. of 1945. So Jesus has secured the victory, and the kingdom is here; however, there is still coming the consummation of the kingdom and the separation of the wheat and tares. This is not what the Jews were expecting.
31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the [r]air come and nest in its branches.”33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three [s]pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
Most kingdom cultures teach this in a familiar way, that the kingdom is progressively growing and covering the earth. (I’m not saying the kingdom is not increasing by the way) The problem with this common teaching is that it says we progressively get better as people, and gradually build the kingdom. If that was all the truth there was then it says that our faith has to be in people. People cannot build THE kingdom of God. We build FOR the kingdom of God. There is only one king who builds his kingdom, and our faith is to be in Him. (This does not change our actions, we are still partners with Christ, and so on. This just eliminates our ego, arrogance and pride. This also addresses those who are building their own empire while saying it is the kingdom.) Now remember this is a parable. It is not about a growing tree, or penetrating yeast, they are used to reveal a truth. Also remember Jesus has been addressing Jews who were expecting one thing and not seeing what was in front of them.So if we draw on the context that we have formed in the contrast Jesus has been making between the Jews expectation and the reality of what was happening then we see the truth that is being revealed. The breaking in of the kingdom of God was small, insignificant and even hidden in comparison to what the Jews were expecting. However, I want to say again that there is a final consummation where the kingdom will stand in power and glory with no rival. We have great hope and Joy in this fact!
Jesus was giving the multitude of Jews every chance to perceive and understand, but they weren’t.
This also highlights the importance for us to understand the old testament in order to gain understanding of the new testament.
God is for you, and I am for you!