Explain what a parable is, state the rule for interpreting parables, and use that rule to interpret at least one of the parables on the kingdom in Matthew 13.
Interpret the parable of the sower, identifying the meaning of each of the four kinds of soil in the parables, and take part in a discussion of the importance of this parable for evangelism and discipling new converts.
Explain why Jesus taught in parables.
When given a list of possible answers, identify the teaching of each of the parables in Matthew 13, and using the parables as a basis, take part in a discussion of the nature of the kingdom in the world to day.
Examples of the Kingdom
Matthew, chapter 13 is the last chapter which deals with the year of Jesus’ ministry we are now studying, that is the year of . It was during this year that His ministry grew and the Kingdom was made larger.
Read Matthew 13:10-11
What is the common theme of the examples of the kingdom in Matthew 13? of .
Luke wrote about Jesus at the beginning of the Year of Popularity saying: “…the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.”
So then, it is easy for us to see what Jesus was preaching about. According to Luke, Jesus was preaching the of . He was illustrating His preaching by taking examples about the of .
A Parable is an Example taken from everyday life which teaches a Spiritual Truth.
Read the first Parable which is found in Matthew 13:1-9.
What everyday example did Jesus use in this parable?
A parable is an example which teaches a spiritual truth. The parable of the Sower which we have just read is a good place to begin our study because Jesus explains the spiritual truth for us. You can read Jesus’ explanation in verses 18-23. However, we have already seen that Matthew 13:10-11 explains the main theme of this parable, the of .
A parable then is used to illustrate one spiritual truth. But, it is just as important to remember that it is an example which is taken from everyday life.
Using your red pencil/pen, underline the word “kingdom” in the following Bible References. All of them are found in Matthew Chapter 13. Underline in verses: 11, 19, 24, 31, 38, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47, and verse 52.
Some people try to understand parables by making each small part of the story represent a different thing. This is NOT the right way to look at a parable.
Read Matthew 13:10. What was the question Christ’s disciples asked?
In His answer to the disciples’ question, Jesus said that He taught by means of parables with two purposes in mind.
In the first place, it was to make known the secrets of the kingdom of God to those who seek the truth with a HUMBLE spirit.
In the second place, it was to keep the PROUD aand hard-hearted who don’t want to accept the truth, from seeing the secrets of the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 13:11-13).
In other words, Jesus explains that those who HAVE a humble heart and a spirit which is open to God will receive more truth. On the other hand, those who have closed their eyes to spiritual truth and have hardened their hearts have already begun a terrible process of self-destruction. Their situation is much like in Matthew 7:6 which says: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs…”
The Pharisees, Teachers of the law, ahd Herod the Tetrarch were in danger of becoming those who have nothing, and even what they had would be taken from them.
So then, a parable acts in two ways. It may be a window through which light enters, or it may rather be a curtain which keeps the light out, Parables have a double function. In which of the following cases does the parable act as a window, and in which does it become a curtain?
- “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance;
- Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him,”
Read Matthew 13:14-16.
Which of the prophets had said that many would reject the message of the kingdom and for this reason not understand the parables of the Messiah?
What is the reference for this prophecy?
According to this prophecy, what had:
- happened to the people’s hearts?
- the people done with their eyes?
- the people done with their ears?
Thank God that not everyone rejected the spiritual truth.
- Who did begin to understand Jesus’ teaching in parables and seen the spiritual truth? (Read Matthew 13:36 and 51)
- Read Matthew 13:16. What did Jesus say about them?
- What does the word “blessed” mean?
Exercise: compare Matthew 13:16-17 with Matthew 5:1-12 Where Christ says that those who sense their spiritual need are happy because they will receive the Kingdom of God.
The questioning of the disciples showed that they were looking for the meaning of the parable Jesus told. He was not satisfied when they saw only the example and failed to see beyond to the spiritual truth. Read Matthew 13:18 to see what Jesus did about the disciples question. What did Jesus do?
One of the most necessary, but also the most difficult tasks that a pastor must face is to help his people see the spiritual truths behind Jesus’ earthly examples. Let’s look at how Jesus explained the parable of the sower.
Read Matthew 13:18-23 – the explanation of the sower parable.
Jesus shows us that the different soils represent different conditions of the human heart. How many types of soil are their in this parable
What is the reason for the difference in the result of the harvest? Is it the quality of the seed or the condition of the soil? that is the condition of the human heart.
Different results from the preaching of the message of the kingdom of heaven do not come from difference of change in the power of the Word of God. Jesus Christ remains the same and so does the Word of God. Rather, it is a difference in the condition of the human heart which receives the Word.
Which of the four soils is the only one that produced fruit?
Read Jesus’ explanation about the good soil once again. The three things that Jesus says in His explanations are necessary to make good soil are: Hearing the Word of God, Understanding the Word of God, Obeying the Word of God. Think for just a moment about the three basic techniques of Bible study which you use to study the Word: Observation (Hearing), Interpretation (Understanding), Application (Obeying).
Look at the difference between the good soil and the hard soil. The birds ate the seed which fell on to the hard soil. In this case, the Word was also heard, but Jesus clearly says in His explanation that they did not it. This is much like the person who uses the technique of in their Bible study, but does not go on to the Word, let alone apply it to their lives.
Once again, we can see the importance of the technique of Interpretation to Explain the Word. Although people may listen to the Word, they will never be able to apply it to their lives and produce fruit if they do not its meaning.
So then, we see that the hard soil represents those who HEAR the Word of God but are lacking in 2 Things which are needed.
The Pharisees are a biblical example of “hard soil”.
Read Matthew 13:19. What do the birds represent in this parable?
According to verse 5, some seed “fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.” The seed did begin to sprout but the hot summer sun quickly dried them up. Depth was lacking.
Of course, the soil represents people. Jesus explained this part of the parable, saying that the rocky soil stands for people who receive the message of the kingdom with . What did the young plants which were growing in the rocky soil lack? . What happened to these plants when the sun came out? . What does the sun represent?
This portion of the parable illustrates that the important thing in the kingdom is not the enthusiasm with which a person first received the Word of God. Rather, the important thing is the depth to which it takes root in our hearts.
Read Matthew 8:18-22. Which of the two men in this episode had a heart like this rocky soil?
One again the matter of persecution enters into the picture. if believers are to survive in the face of opposition and persecution, it is absolutely necessary that they allow the Word of God to in their hearts. As a example Paul put it this way: “They curse us, and we bless them; we suffer persecution and we undergo it.” And John this way. “John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus,”
How can we prepare ourselves and our congregation to face persecution?
The third kind of soil was the Thorny Soil.
If one’s heart is not filled with the Holy Spirit, it will automatically produce thorns. According to Jesus, there are two special things which often choke out the seed of the Word. What are they? and .
Which of the two men mentioned in Matthew 8:18-22 had a heart that was like the thorny soil?
However, there was another man in Matthew 8 and 9 whose heart was like the good soil. Do you remember who he was?
The Hard Soil example: “I don’t understand any of that foolish talk.”
The Rocky Soil example: “I like what I hear, but my sports don’t give me enough time for that.”
The Thorny Soil example: “I know what you are saying is true but you see, I have these very big personal problems which force me to say no, at least not now.”
The Good Soil example: “I understand perfectly and I know it will cost me a lot to follow, but with the Lord’s help, I’m going to do it,”
Each of the eight parables in Matthew 13 teaches us something more about the growth of the kingdom of heaven. For example, the second parable teaches us something about the difficulty of telling the true members of the kingdom from those who only appear to be members of the kingdom.
Read Matthew 13:24-30. The Wheat and the Weeds.
Read Jesus’ explanation of the parable in Matthew 13:36-43.
Write out the meaning of each of the following parts of the parable using Jesus’ explanation as the source for your explanation:
The sower of wheat:
The wheat seed:
The sower of the weeds:
In the Parable of the Sower, the wheat represents the of the Kingdom, while in the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, it represents the of the Kingdom. These have been sown by the Son of , who is . The weeds stand for the of the One. That is, the weeds stand for Unbelievers, while the wheat stands for Believers.
Those who heard Jesus speak these words were familiar with the harm which weeds could do. In fact, it was against Roman law to sow weeds in another man’s field as an acct of revenge.
At what stage of the plant’s growth can wheat be separated from the weeds?
The concern of the servants when they discovered the weeds among the wheat is shown in their question in Matthew 13:28. “Do you want us to go and .”
There were many Jews including John the Baptist and Jesus’ own disciples, who did not understand why Jesus did not pull out the weeds (e.g. Herod the Tetrarch, The Roman Rulers) once and for all with a single violent act of judgment and put His Kingdom of Peace and Love in their place.
“Do you want us to go and pull them up?” This question is just like the attitude of a great many people in the church today. What was the master’s answer to his servants?
Here we can see just one of the aspects of Christ’s own greatness. Time after time, He was tempted to set up His Kingdom through violent means. But, He fully understood that a kingdom of peace cannot be set up in this way. According to Jesus, the outcome of the final judgment is: of the weeds? Of the wheat? .
So, God’s purpose in the Kingdom is clear.
There will be a time in the Future when the servants will gather up the children of once and for all time.
In the Present, however, we are not to attempt to sort out the wheat from the weeds. That is, we are not to gather up the children of until the end when He shall do it.
When is the only time when the true children of the kingdom can be distinguished from the sons of the Evil One
In which of Jesus’ temptations did Satan tempt Jesus to establish His Kingdom through violence? The temptation of the
We, too, must guard against this temptation. We must keep away from us any fleshly attitude which tries to spread the Kingdom through force. It is not likely that we will physically force people into the Kingdom, but often believers are guilty of trying to do just that with their own efforts and intelligence. Remember always that it is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (See Zechariah 4:6)
After Jesus teaches His disciples what they are NOT to do, He goes on to tell them how the kingdom should grow. They may be found in the next two parables.
The Mustard Seed and the Yeast.
Read Matthew 13:31-33
The mustard seed is a:
When mustard is finished growing it:
When a small amount of yeast is mixed with flour (dough):
Both of these parables talk about the same truth. In both of the parables we are able to see a picture of the:
In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the kingdom’s beginnings are pictured as very small. However, the seed of the Word of God in the world as very small. However, the seed of the Word of God in the world until it is large enough for the birds of the air to nest in its branches. The yeast also grows. It begins as a small amount placed in a large quantity of dough. In the end it spreads until all of the dough is leavened. So it is with the kingdom of the World, it will until it spreads through all of his life.
It is the same way in our own communities. Although the Word of God may not be accepted by many people in the beginning, we can be sure that it will continue to as we are faithful to tell others about Jesus Christ. This principle of growth can be applied to the hearts of men too.
There are those who expect the Kingdom of heaven to become full grown overnight. However, the picture that Jesus gave us teaches that the Kingdom must in the world and in the heart. Read 1 Corinthians 3:6. Who is it that causes the growth in the kingdom: . The growth of the kingdom does not come through force or threat. It is born from within by the Holy Spirit as a person discovers for himself the great value of the Kingdom. The Kingdom grows in the heart (yeast); in the world (mustard seeds).
The Hidden Treasure and the pearl of Great Value
Read Matthew 13:44-46
So then, if we want to see true growth in the kingdom of heaven, we should lead a person to discover for himself the value of the kingdom.
Jesus explained the parables to His disciples. Little by little He showed them the great treasures of the kingdom of heaven. What an exciting moment for both the Master and his pupils when they answered His question: “Have you understood all of these things?” (Matthew 13:51) What did the disciples answer? They had begun to see it, rather then still looking for it (the hidden treasure/Kingdom).
What happens to people who make a “decision” for Christ under pressure?
What happens to those who have considered their decision and found the value of the Kingdom for themselves.
Sometimes the people discover the kingdom at a surprising time (Hidden Treasure). The Apostle Paul was struck by light on his way to persecute Christians. Others have searched for the Kingdom until they found it (The Pearl of Great Value).
The next parable teaches us what to expect when people say they have put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Read Matthew 13:47-50
Jesus says that the Kingdom is like gathering fish out of the sea with a net. So then, in the present state of the kingdom of heaven we should expect to find:
The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds had to do with the separation of the sons of the evil one from the sons of the kingdom. It dealt with the extension of the Kingdom into the World.
The parable of the Net deals with a similar problem, only this time it is especially concerned with the CHURCH. Many believers have learned the lesson of the wheat and the weeds without also applying the truth of the Parable of the Net. When they see people in the church who are “less spiritual”, the first thing they want to do is throw them out. But according to this little parable, when is the only time that the righteous will be separated from the sons of the evil one in the church?
in the church is, without any doubt, a worse problem than evil in the world. How, for instance, can we explain Judas’ presence among the Twelve? How can we explain the fact that there are people in your own local congregations who have never experienced the new birth?
In the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds we learned that we were not to try to force evil out of the
In the Parable of the Net we learn that it is not possible for us to try to pull the evil out of the either.
The evil ones will be pulled out of the world and the church only at the of the by the .
Thus, Christ teaches clearly that we ought not to expect a perfect church here on earth. No one knows the heart of his brother except God. God will make judgment when the time comes at the end of the age through His angels. Many churches have been divided at times over very unimportant things because believers have failed to understand this teaching. When the Lord Jesus said: “let both grow together until the harvest,” He is speaking to:
The impatient one who wants to pull up all evil out of the world by force, as in the Parable of the and the
The impatient, hard believer who wants to see things go his own way in the church and throw out the “less spiritual” as in the Parable of the
The Parable of the Net teaches us what we should Not do in the church. The Last Parable in Matthew 13 teaches us something that we should do.
Old and New Treasure
Read Matthew 13:51-52
The teacher of the law (scribe) who has become a disciple is compared to the owner of a house, or the father of a family. What are the two things which the father takes out of his store room?
The old treasures stand for simple, well-known things. The new treasures are new, unknown things. Because they are new, they are often difficult to understand. We are going to apply this parable to our preaching and teaching. Example: A pastor who begins by talking about well-known truth but also teaches the congregation new and useful things which help them to live as believers should.
Here again we can see the importance of Explaining and Applying the Word of God. We can see Jesus’ own use of this method in the parables themselves.
Parable of the Sower
– We should be careful that we do not allow the cares of this life to choke out the growth of the Word of God in our hearts.
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
It is not our place to judge others, rather we must allow the Lord to do that in His time.
We must accept the fact that until Christ comes, there will be those who are not really apart of the kingdom.
The Hidden Treasures
“The kingdom of heaven is so valuable, it is worth losing all my material possessions to get it.”
I should long for spiritual growth which is constant and sure in my life.
Do not worry if there are only a few of you. The Lord will do great things and His Kingdom will grow.
Old & New Treasures
Seek the old and the new things that the Lord has in His word everyday.
Pearl of Great Value
If I seek the Lord with all my heart, I will not fail to find the riches of the Christian life.
Exercise: Prepare simple Bible messages which explain and apply each of these parables of the kingdom of Heaven.
BIO:Patrick 389-461 Missionary to Ireland. Patrick was born in Scotland.
His fa- ther was a Roman centurion and also a deacon in a local New
Testament church. Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave,
but he escaped. After his conversion to Christ, he studied on the
mainland in Gaul, and then returned to the heathen tribes in Ireland as
a missionary. He began scores of churches and baptized–immersed–
thousands of converts. He is largely responsible for the large number
of Bible-believing Christians in Northern Ire- land, Scotland, and
England. Patrick, his father, and also his grandfather, were proud of
the fact that they were not controlled by the Roman Church, and that
they were responsi- ble only to God. Patrick was later canonized by the
Roman Church as a political move to control the Irish churches. He was
thereafter known as “St. Patrick.”