Jesus moved strategically into speaking in parables in Matthew 13 and 14. We look at 7 of them, including three pairs that relate to one another. On the surface, they are intriguing little stories. Inside, they are powerful and challenging!
*Apologies, the first couple minutes of the message were not recorded.
Parable: A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. Or, even, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
Seven parables here–one as a kind of intro, then three pairs. The first is the key to understanding the real meaning of the others.
Parable of the sower. Matthew 13:3-9 Bottom line: The seed isn’t the problem! How open is your heart?
The disciples pull him aside when they are alone with him: Mt. 13:10-13. Verse 12 – what he “has” means what he keeps and values. It’s a statement about the strength of HABIT. If you use a muscle, it grows stronger; if you don’t use it, it weakens. If we exercise our moral and spiritual principles, we grow stronger in them. If we don’t – scary to say–those principles grow weaker and eventually disappear.
Warning: Some of us are losing spiritual muscle because it’s not being exercised. If that doesn’t change, the loss will continue until the worst manifestation of the problem will occur–that we don’t care anymore.
Verse 16 Blessed are your eyes and ears…Do we realize what we have today?
So let’s jump into these three pairs!
First pair of parables is the wheat and the tares, and the second is the parable of the net, or dragnet. The kingdom of God is going to draw all kinds of people. It’s going to be difficult at times to distinguish a person who is saved and really walking with Jesus from someone who isn’t. We can’t be thrown by the presence of false brothers and sisters.
“Don’t gather them up, unless you also uproot the wheat with them.” God gives us time – time to come to Him, time to grow. But there will be a time of judgment – both parables say that!
Then two more: The parables of the mustard seed (Mt. 13:31-32) and the leaven (v. 33). These were mind-blowing then, and still are so encouraging today.
The mustard seed was the proverbial smallest seed, and speaking relatively, it was famous for having the smallest seed grow into the biggest plant. And the leaven causes the whole loaf to rise. His message: This kingdom is going to grow, to a size and importance far beyond its meager beginnings. A dozen disciples will lead to 120 followers who will eventually turn the world upside down.
One thing we’ll never know is what the world would be like without Jesus, without the gospel, without the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some examples of where Christianity has benefited our world: human rights, women, children, slavery, family, social justice, education, government, science, free enterprise, music, art and literature.
Have there been perversions of the Christian faith over the years. Of course! But if you dig into the more evil expressions, such as the Inquisition, aspects of the Crusades, and anti-Semitism and racism, you’ll see that they all are acting contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
Look at what has happened to societies where the Christian influences have been removed: e.g., the regimes of Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot – who account for 100 million deaths just among the four of them!
Thank God for the leaven of Christianity throughout history!
Finally, the last two parables: Matthew 13:44-46; the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. In one parable, the treasure is unexpectedly found, and which when found is valued above everything else. The other has a person searching, knowing what he’s looking for, and then finding the best version of what he was seeking, and was willing to part with everything else to obtain it!
In both cases, there is great joy, and the person sells everything he has to get it.
Jesus told parables that blessed and instructed those that were willing to receive it. And for those who were antagonistic to His message, His parables were either confusing or just nice stories with little meaning. Which group do you belong in?