Parables of the Kingdom (Part One)
May 4, 2014
Topic: Matthew Passage: Matthew 13:1–13:23
“Matthew: The Gospel of the Grace of God”
“PARABLES of the KINGDOM”
Jesus was a STORYTELLER, & His stories were from the unique category of PARABLES.
“A parable is a story from real life or a real-life situation from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn.” (James Montgomery Boice)
William Barclay stated that Jesus’ parables “were designed to make one stabbing truth flash out at a man the moment he heard it.”
There are parables in the OT, & the rabbis told parables, but the NT only records the parables of Jesus.
There are 27 parables in the 4 gospels, & among them are:
The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32),
The good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37),
The Pharisee & the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14),
The wedding banquet (Matt. 22:1-14),
The sheep & the goats (Matt. 25:31-46), etc.
Parables differ from FABLES in that fables are not real-life situations. For example, in Aesop’s fables, there are animals that talk.
Parables are also not ALLEGORIES, where nearly every detail has a meaning, such asPilgrim’s Progress.
Jesus is FAMOUS for His parables, so it is interesting that we do not read His FIRST parable in Matthew until nearly half-way through the gospel.
By this point, the MASSES of people in general had REJECTED Jesus, & so Jesus CONCENTRATES His ministry upon His DISCIPLES.
The POINT of Jesus’ PARABLES were to INSTRUCT the DISCIPLES, & NOT the CROWDS.
Matthew 13 is the 3rd set of 6 major collections of Jesus’ TEACHING. This chapter contains 7 parables, & they all have one theme: the KINGDOM of GOD.
This is appropriate, since the FOCUS of Matthew from the beginning has been upon the COMING of God’s Kingdom IN Jesus Christ.
The FIRST of these 7 parables, the parable of the SOWER, stands ALONE from the rest, in that it is about the ORIGIN of God’s KINGDOM.
This parable is also unique in that, unlike most of Jesus’ parables, it includes an EXPLANATION.
The Parable TAUGHT
Vs.3-8 – the EMPHASIS in the parable is on the various kinds of HEARTS & how they either ACCEPT or REJECT the GOSPEL, the message of God’s KINGDOM.
Clearly, 4 TYPES of hearts are presented:
The HARD heart: v.4.
What HARDENS the human heart? There can be only one answer: SIN, & people LOVE their sin MORE than they love the GOSPEL that is presented to them.
A big REASON for this is because, to ENTER the KINGDOM of God, one must SUBMIT to the SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY of God, & the HARDENED heart is UNWILLING to submit to that.
The SHALLOW heart: vs.5-6.
Shallow hearts POPULATE MANY of our churches today. These are people who are INITIALLY EXCITED about the Lord, the gospel, & the church – but then, some DIFFICULTY arises, & they FALL AWAY.
1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
A man of several years ago named Joseph Paul Franklin would be an extreme EXAMPLE of the SHALLOW heart:
Franklin was arrested in Lakeland, Fl., for a series of shootings in Salt Lake City, Johnstown,Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, & Oklahoma City.
Franklin had grown up in a bad home, gotten in constant trouble at school, & was arrested numerous times for a variety of offenses.
A magazine reporting on Franklin said that, at one point, he had become an evangelical Christian – but later, he became a Nazi, & then a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
When the SEED of the GOSPEL was SOWN in Paul Franklin’s heart, it proved to be a SHALLOW heart, & he proved to be an UNBELIEVER.
What COUNTS is not PROFESSION of faith, but PERSEVERANCE in the faith.
The STRANGLED heart: v.7.
Jesus gave frequent WARNINGS about RICHES:
Matt. 19:23 (NIV): “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Mark 10:25 (NIV): “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
GRADUALLY, as riches GROW in a person’s life, they often CHOKE the GOSPEL out of their lives.
The OPEN heart: v.8.
The most UNUSUAL feature of the parable is the extraordinary CROP produced on this good soil. A 10-20 fold yield was usually considered EXCELLENT.
2 points need to be remembered here:
Only a PORTION of the PREACHING of the gospel ultimately BEARS FRUIT. Even JESUS was unable to REACH EVERYONE that He preached to!
Therefore, we must not think that we have FAILED when someone REFUSES the gospel that we offer to them. Some will NOT believe – but some WILL!
SPIRITUAL FRUIT is the ONLY SURE evidence of genuine CONVERSION in someone’s life.
Warren Wiersbe: “Unless there is fruit in the life, there is not saving faith in the heart.”
Do YOU have an OPEN heart?
It is true that, if you are BAD soil, you cannot CHANGE yourself into GOOD soil – but there is someone WHO CAN!
The Parable EXPLAINED
This parable is found in Matthew, Mark, & Luke, & each one CLOSES DIFFERENTLY:
Mark 4:24: “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.”
Luke 8:18: “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
V.9 – only those who RECEIVE the King can UNDERSTAND the King!
V.10 – in other words, “why do you bother SPEAKING to them, if they CANNOT UNDERSTAND you?”
V.11 – the disciples did not understand because they had EARNED an understanding; they understood because the Lord had CHOSEN them & thus given them the ABILITY to understand.
V.12 – here we see HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY: the TRUTH will GROW in us, IF we USE it! But, if we don’t use it, we LOSE it (Mark 4:24, Luke 8:18).
Vs.13-15 – the PARABLES of Jesus was a form of JUDGMENT upon them.
A person who REJECTS Jesus may find many things in His parables that he can APPRECIATE & ADMIRE, but their ESSENTIAL MEANING is LOST to him.
Mark 4:34: “He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”
Luke 24:45: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
Rom. 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” But onlythose with EARS to HEAR that Word can RECEIVE it, & BELIEVE it.
V.17 – what they were seeing and hearing is what divine prophecy had been POINTING TO for CENTURIES. What a PRIVILEGE! What a RESPONSIBILITY!
1 Pet. 1:10-12 – the disciples will not GRASP EVERYTHING that Jesus will teach them, but they will have the PRIVILEGE of being brought to a GREATER UNDERSTANDING, as the result of their PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS with Christ.
The SEED is GOD’S WORD;
The SOILS are different kinds of HEARTS;
The RESULTS are the different RESPONSES to GOD’S WORD.
Vs.20-21 – the gospel often provokes an IMMEDIATE REACTION, but sometimes the change is merely on the SURFACE, & thus TEMPORARY.
It may be many YEARS before this is revealed, during a time of intense TESTING.
William Arnot: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved; but he that falls away in the middle shall not.”
But the SAME kind of crisis that turns FALSE believers AWAY will only make TRUE believers STRONGER in their faith.
V.23 – again, FRUITBEARING is the only certain PROOF of TRUE discipleship:
The fruit of a RIGHTEOUS ATTITUDE: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23a)
The fruit of a RIGHTEOUS LIFE: Phil. 1:9-11.
2 closing QUESTIONS:
Which kind of SOIL represents YOUR heart?
What kind of FRUIT is there in your life as PROOF of your SALVATION?