Matthew chapter 13:1-17 (continued)
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Great crowds assembled around Him, so that He went into a boat and sat there. And the whole assembly stood on the shore. Then He told them many things in parables, saying, “Listen! A sower went out to sow. While he sowed, some seeds fell beside the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
But other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up because they did not have deep soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched. And because they did not take root, they withered away. Some seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. But other seeds fell into good ground and produced grain: a hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.
The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’He answered them, ‘It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For to him who has, will more be given, and he will have abundance. But from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away Therefore I speak to them in parables: Because they look, but do not see. And they listen, but they do not hear, neither do they understand.’
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘By hearing, you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing, you will see and shall not perceive; for this people’s heart has grown dull. Their ears have become hard of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I should heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.”
Last time we ended by discussing the power of the Church family. Over the past week I have seem more information about the Church family, more than I have seen in some time. It would appear that God has the same message for all of us. The New Testament church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” We showed that as we enter the last days of this age we are going to need the New Testament church more and more.
It is especially important as we are reminded of that in Hebrews 10:25, we are to make sure that we assemble more and more as we see the end approaching. We are not blind, Jesus told us the signs of the end and we are in a front row seat for beginning of the end. If you are blessed, like I am, to be a part of a Bible teaching, Jesus returning soon, loving and serving church—then thank the Lord and don’t take it for granted.
A lot of Christendom is in “churches” who water down the truth are building earthly kingdoms and have very little personal relationships with those with whom they attend church. This is sad, really, if you think about what Jesus built before He left us. His church was built on Him—the Truth, His return and His love for all mankind.
The twelve men and the women who served and traveled with them had each other and often no one else. They had abandoned earthly kingdoms and treasures for the promised kingdom that they could not see. They, like we, look for a city whose Builder and Maker is God.
Here, we will begin to look at Jesus’ use of parables to teach the truth of the kingdom of God. we will take a look at verses 10-17 first, and then next time we will begin to look at the parables themselves.
We Know More Than the Jews of Today, Verses 10-12
What is a parable? A parable, simply put, is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. So each parable revealed something about the kingdom of heaven. The Jews are still temporarily blinded to the truths of the New Testament and Old Testament Scriptures because of their rejection of Jesus. Paul tells us this in Romans 11:25-26:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.’”
The eyes of the Jews have been blocked for our benefit. We, the Gentile church, are being granted a period of grace to expand and grow until Jesus decided to begin to deal with Israel again as He fulfills all the promises made the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If we spend time in God’s Word, faithfully examine it and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us; we will see more about the nation of Israel than they know.
There are things that we know that they cannot know without the Holy Spirit living in them. In particular, the Gospel of Matthew is about the Jews and the Jewish Messiah. All of the parables have to be weighed and interpreted in the light of Israel and Jesus as her rightful king.
One of things we learn in Jesus’ explanation of why He uses parables is that He rewards those who seek Him and honor Him with knowledge. Notice in verse 11 that it is “given to us to know”—it is a gift from God. There is a level of human wisdom that we get from “life experience.” But there is another level of knowledge and wisdom that ONLY comes from God and it is a gift; He gives it when we ask and seek Him.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
God not only gives wisdom but He gives generously. God is not stingy with His wisdom He wants you to overflow with it. It is important for us to study parables since Jesus tells us that contained in these parables are things that God wants the New Testament church to know; things that are important for the proper understanding of the times we live in and a filter through which to sift all the information that we get when we study the scripture and read the media we are so bombarded with.
In this chapter that we are looking at there are seven parables. That is, seven pieces of information about the kingdom of heaven that God wants the New Testament church to know but that are hidden from Israel as a whole. It would seem to me that if this is information that Jesus’ wants us to know and that God wants us to know then we should take some time to dissect and understand what it is exactly that we are supposed to know.
Keep this promise in mind from verse 12—that he who has will be given and he will have abundance. The more you learn about the kingdom of heaven, the more God will reveal to you about the kingdom of heaven. The more you learn about the kingdom of heaven, then the more knowledge in general God will bless you with, and godly knowledge is followed with godly wisdom; the two go hand in hand.
Then when you read the Scriptures they will come alive to you, it will make sense and the pages will overflow with information that helps you to frame your life, your thoughts and your goals. Let us approach parables as secret codes from God that allow us to understand heavenly things with our finite minds—but at the same time they make our finite minds less finite.
God’s Special Blessing of Knowledge, Verses 16-17
Have you ever read the writings of Daniel or Jeremiah or Isaiah and they made your brain feel like it was going to explode? Well, I have some encouraging news for you; you know more about the kingdom of heaven than they did. The parables teach us about some of the things that the great prophets really wanted to know but it was not for them to know. It is for us to know.
Imagine that, we the Gentile Church know more about some things than the great Old Testament prophets. We should take advantage of the privilege that God has granted us and diligently study the truth entrenched in these parables, they are for us.
Jesus tells us in verse 16, “Blessed are our eyes and ears for they see and hear.” We are to be happy and feel favored by God that He would grant us this gift. These truths are treasures that should be treated like treasures; they need to be sought out and mined for in the words of these parables. What truths are so important to God that He would develop a coded way to teach us that would at the same time hide them from even His most revered prophets?
What if a parent told you that there was a hidden treasure for you in your home? A treasure that was made for you, designed to bless you and give you something that your older, wiser siblings longed to have—but were not allowed to have? Most kids would feel special and go looking for the treasure in the house. We should feel special that God has chosen us to receive the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven. But more than just feeling special, we should appreciate the privilege by trying to learn all we can about what God is teaching us.
So take some time this week; make a list of all the parables and read them. This is not a contest; simply take the time and effort and read as many of the parables that you can. We will explore these seven parables and any others that we come across in the book of Matthew as we go on.
Prepare your hearts to get the message that Jesus wants you to get as a part of the New Testament church. These truths will ground us, challenge us and more than likely, humble us. They will drive us to Jesus and to His Word and help us to be better servants of the King. It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, verse 10.