Parables of the Kingdom (Part Two)
June 15, 2014
Topic: Matthew Passage: Matthew 13:24–13:58
“Matthew: The Gospel of the Grace of God”
“PARABLES of the Kingdom”
Who is JESUS?
Jesus is a TEACHER, seeking to impart inerrant TRUTH to His followers.
Jesus is a STORYTELLER, using PARABLES as His one of His PRIMARY METHODS of teaching.
Most of all, Jesus is a KING. In fact, Jesus is the King of kings; the only TRUE & LASTING king of this world, & of all creation.
Those who FOLLOW Jesus; who BELIEVE in Him, are CITIZENS of His KINGDOM.
The KINGDOM of HEAVEN (God) was a BIG issue with Matthew, as it should be with US.
It was a big issue with JESUS, as Matthew 13 clearly shows. The PARABLES are first INTRODUCED to us in this chapter, & they are parables about the KINGDOM ofHEAVEN: Vs.24, 31, 33-34, 44-45, 47.
V.51: it is IMPORTANT that WE understand what Jesus is TEACHING here about His KINGDOM.
After all, if I am to be a GOOD CITIZEN of God’s kingdom, I must know the KEY CHARACTERISTICS of that kingdom.
This second half of Matthew 13, then, is of tremendous VALUE to us in that regard. We begin with:
The Parable of the WEEDS
This first kingdom parable is probably the EASIEST to understand; because its TRUTH is fairly OBVIOUS, and because Jesus EXPLAINS it in verses 36-43.
V.24-26 – vs.37-39a:
The SOWER is CHRIST;
The FIELD is the WORLD;
The SEED (note the DIFFERENCE here from the parable of the SOWER, vs.1-23) is the CITIZENS of the KINGDOM;
The WEEDS are the followers of SATAN;
The ENEMY who SOWED the weeds is SATAN.
Vs.27-30 – vs.39b-43:
The HARVEST is the END of the AGE (this age, in which we are living);
The REAPERS (servants) are God’s ANGELS;
The FIERY FURNACE is HELL;
The KINGDOM is HEAVEN.
V.43b – what are the PRIMARY POINTS that we must remember from this parable?
The DEVIL’S PEOPLE are INCLUDED in the CHURCH today.
2 Cor. 11:14-15: “for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
Therefore, in the CHURCH TODAY:
Satan PLANTS FALSE CHRISTIANS;
He STIMULATES FALSE GROWTH;
He INTRODUCES FALSE DOCTRINE.
What is a primary IMPLICATION from this?
The CHURCH TODAY will NEVER be totally PURE. Why?
Because some MEMBERS are UNBELIEVERS;
Because TRUE believers are very IMPERFECT in this age!
The TRUE church will ONLY be revealed at the END of the AGE. Therefore: “Our task is not to pull up the false, but to plant the true . . . We are not detectives but evangelists!” (Warren Wiersbe)
The Parables of the MUSTARD SEED & the LEAVEN
These two parables can be considered together, because they make the SAME POINT.
However, what that point is is a matter of great DEBATE:
To some, these two parables teach that the KINGDOM of God BEGINS SMALL, but GROWS LARGE.
It BEGINS SMALL. Luke 17:20-21: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
It BEGINS SMALL, but it GROWS LARGE. In the END, “The kingdom of the world (will) become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15b)
But OTHERS contend that these parables are a WARNING about the CORRUPTING INFLUENCE that SATAN has on the CHURCH.
The MUSTARD SEED symbolizes the FALSE EXPANSION of the church; while the LEAVEN symbolizes the influence of FALSE TEACHING in the church.
My opinion: while it is true that SATAN CORRUPTS the church, resulting in FALSE GROWTH & FALSE TEACHING, the POINT of the parable of the MUSTARD SEED is the most OBVIOUS one: though DESPISED as too INSIGNICANT to even be NOTICED in the beginning, the KINGDOM will GROW to IMPACT the ENTIRE WORLD.
With the parable of the LEAVEN, there are 2 primary points:
SMALL things can have a BIG INFLUENCE (for good or bad).
The influence of God’s KINGDOM in this world is a POSITIVE one.
Yes, LEAVEN often symbolizes EVIL in the Bible, but it can also symbolize GOOD.
A REMINDER: vs.34-35 (vs.10-17).
Am I a TRUE believer, or do I only RESEMBLE one?
If I am a WEED NOW, God can TRANSFROM me into His WHEAT.
The Parables of the TREASURE & the PEARL
Again, the primary POINT of these two parables are in DISPUTE. To some:
The HIDDEN TREASURE is not Christ or His kingdom.
A SINNER cannot FIND that treasure, for he is BLIND.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to PURCHASE SALVATION.
That interpretation has merit, but again, it OVERLOOKS the OBVIOUS: TheKINGDOM of HEAVEN is SO VALUABLE that it is worth SACRIFICING EVERYTHING we have in order to OBTAIN it.
There are DIFFERENCES:
The man who found the TREASURE was NOT LOOKING for it, but the merchant was IN SEARCH OF fine pearls.
Some people who are eventually saved are NOT SEEKING that salvation; othersconduct a LIFELONG SEARCH for MEANING in life.
Isa. 65:1 (NIV): “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.”
Contrast that with Matt. 7:7.
There are also similarities in the two parables:
They RECOGNIZED the VALUE of what they had found. Thomas Guthrie wrote that the gospel “has treasures greater far than east or west unfold, and its rewards more precious are than all the stores of gold.”
1 Pet. 1:4 says that our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”
Here is GOOD NEWS: God OFFERS this TREASURE to ANYONE who is willing to REPENT & BELIEVE in His Son!
They were DETERMINED to ACQUIRE it.
They SOLD EVERYTHING in order to HAVE it.
ULTIMATELY, they RECEIVED their TREASURE.
The Parable of the NET
This parable is very SIMILAR to that of the WHEAT & the TARES, in several ways:
The GOOD & the EVIL are TOGETHER.
Ultimately, there is a SEPARATION.
Those who DO the gathering & the separating are God’s ANGELS.
But the FOCUS of this parable is the FINAL JUDGMENT of God.
There are several important REALITIES concerning the JUDGMENT of God:
It is THOROUGH.
Now, there is the MIXTURE of the good & the evil.
Then, there will be a CLEAR & FINAL SEPARATION.
It is DETERMINED by TODAY’S DECISIONS.
Whether I will be GATHERED or SEPARATED then depends upon my DECISION about CHRIST now.
It is PERMANENT.
For the LOST, it is TERRIBLE.
Hell is a place of CONSTANT TORMENT.
Both BODY & SOUL will experience this eternal torment.
There are VARYING DEGREES of torment in hell.
For EVERYONE in hell, that torment is ETERNAL.
The GOSPEL, then, is not only the OFFER of HEAVEN, it is also the WARNING of HELL.
This LEADS, then, to:
The CRITICAL QUESTION
Certainly, there may be much that we DO NOT fully or perfectly UNDERSTAND, but:
Do you BELIEVE WHAT you understand?
Are you WILLING to ACT upon it?
In John 13:17 (NIV), Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Sadly, there are some who:
REJECT the TREASURE
In Nazareth & similar places, the people did not REJECT Jesus due to a LACK of EVIDENCE, but IN SPITE OF the OVERWHELMING evidence that JESUS is LORD!
That was THEIR decision.
What is YOUR decision?