The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, January 2, 2011.
The Parables of Matthew 13 I. There are eight parables in Matthew 13 that speak of the kingdom of heaven. A. There is the parable of the sower. vs. 3-8. B. There is the parable of the wheat and tares. vs. 24-30. C. There is the parable of mustard seed. vs. 31-32. D. There is the parable of the leavened meal. v. 33. E. There is the parable of the treasure hid in a field. v. 44. F. There is the parable of the pearl of great price. vs. 45-46. G. There is the parable of the net. vs. 47-50. H. There is the parable of the householder. v. 52. I. The themes in these parables are of sowing, growth, harvest, corruption, mingling of good and bad, great cost, sorting out and judgment. These are various aspects of the kingdom of heaven. II. MAT 13:3 is the first occurrence in the New Testament of the word “parable(s).” A. Heretofore, the indications are that Jesus had scarcely used parables. MAR 3:23-27 c/w MAT 12:25-29; LUK 5:36. B. But now to the multitudes He only taught in parables that were unexplained. MAT 13:34 c/w MAR 4:33-34. C. Christ did this to fulfill prophecy (MAT 13:35) and prevent the conversion of the multitudes. MAR 4:11-12. 1. Lest: Used as a negative particle of intention or purpose, introducing a clause expressive of something to be prevented or guarded against. 2. His miracles and plain preaching had heretofore been witnessed by multitudes but had produced proportionately little conversion in them. 3. Jesus turned now to parables to suit their hardness of heart while reserving the explanation of the parables to His disciples. D. Parables are to be understood according to the way Christ explains them and/or by applying the rules of Bible study. III. The parable of the sower and its explanation is recorded in MAT 13:3-23. A. The parallel renderings are found in MAR 4:2-20; LUK 8:4-15. B. In overview, this parable teaches us: 1. the word of God is spread indiscriminately. 2. recipitur ad modum recipientis – The reception depends upon the receiver. The fruitfulness of the word of God depends on the condition of the hearer. 3. of the four types of people described here who hear the word, only one brings forth fruit unto perfection. 4. that the dedicated followers of gospel truth will be proportionately few. 5. full evidence of grace is only found in hearing, doing and faithfully persevering in the word of God. 6. the need for self-examination in light of what we have been taught. MAT 7:19-20; 2JO 1:8; JUDE 1:12-13. C. The following are some general observations from Scripture about sowing. 1. “...and sow not among thorns” (JER 4:3). Wisdom recognizes that there are unprofitable venues for one's labors. c/w MAT 7:6. 2. Sowing requires discretion (ISA 28:24-26). There are appropriate places for The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 1 various seed. ISA 61:1-3 c/w PRO 25:11. Sowing/planting is seasonal and requires capitalizing on that season. ECC 3:2 c/w PRO 15:23; 2TI 4:2 c/w HEB 3:12-13. 4. Imperfect conditions or outcome projections should not hinder sowing. ECC 11:4, 6; PSA 126:5-6; GAL 6:9. 5. The Law forbade sowing a field with mingled seed. LEV 19:19. a. Mingle: To mix (things together or one thing with another) so that they become physically united or form a new combination; to combine in a mixture, to blend. b. Consider the error of sowing the gospel seed with unscriptural footnotes or commentaries, false science, man's traditions, etc., or of teaching a hybridized gospel of grace and Law. GAL 5:3-4. 6. “...He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly...” (2CO 9:6). c/w ACT 20:20, 27. 7. Seed reproduces itself. GEN 1:12 c/w GAL 6:7-8. 8. The sower may not be the one who reaps. LUK 19:21-22 c/w JOH 4:35-38. 9. Planting is only one factor. 1CO 3:6-7. Consider the parable's symbolism. 1. The seed is the word of God/word of the kingdom. MAT 13:19; LUK 8:11. a. The word of God is the gospel of the kingdom. MAT 24:14; ACT 28:23. b. Scripture declares the God-man Jesus Christ as King over a durable kingdom by virtue of His resurrection from the dead. ACT 2:29-36; HEB 12:28-29. c. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, there is no good news (gospel) and obviously no kingdom. 1CO 15:17-24. d. The word of the kingdom brought forth much fruit in the brethren at Colosse. COL 1:3-18. 2. The sower is obviously one who is spreading the word. a. This may refer to Christ Who was anointed to preach the gospel and Who is elsewhere depicted as a sower. LUK 4:18-19; MAT 13:37. b. This may also refer to Christ's ministers who sow spiritual things and who are laborers together with him. 1CO 9:11; 3:5-9; 2CO 5:20. c. This could even refer to believers in general who witness to others about the gospel of Jesus Christ. d. Mind that there is no indication that the sower is frustrated by the lack of profit in the majority of cases. This is to be expected. 1CO 9:22. e. That the sower casts seed in unproductive areas is no slight on the sower. (1) His fundamental duty is sowing, not reaping. 1CO 1:14-17. (2) God will be glorified in fruitless rejection as well as in fruitful reception. 2CO 2:14-16. 3. The diverse types of ground are diverse types of individuals who hear the word of God. a. There are some who don't understand it and so no good comes of it at all. b. There are some who immediately receive the word with joy but fall away when tribulation or persecution arise for the word's sake. c. There are some who hear the word but are geared towards carnal and material interests which choke the word out. d. There are some who hear the word, understand it and persevere in it so as to 3. D. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 2 bring forth much fruit. c/w JOH 15:8. (1) These are the only ones that are said to understand the word. (2) The rest just don't “get it.” e. The diverse types of hearers may be in the world or they may be in the church. 1JO 2:19; JUDE 1:4. f. That some of the hearers do not produce lasting fruit may not necessarily mean that they could not be partakers of Christ. (1) Sometimes those in Christ do not bring forth fruit. JOH 15:2. (2) Where there is consistently no fruit though all the elements for production are there, judgment is inevitable. LUK 13:6-9. LUK 8:5 says, “A sower went out to sow HIS seed...” 1. Christ ministered His gospel, not the philosophies or traditions of men. LUK 4:18. 2. Christ's ministers should do likewise: minister the seed of the word which declares Christ. 1CO 15:1-4; 1JO 1:1-3; GAL 3:1. a. They are to preach Christ, not themselves. 2CO 4:5. b. Man's wisdom and fables are further not the seed to be sown. 1CO 2:4-5; 2PE 1:16. c. This is a general rule for all Christians. 1PE 4:11. 3. Christ's ministers are further to attend to THEIR ministry: the one which God has given them. ROM 15:20; 2CO 10:13-16; COL 4:17. 4. “For every man shall bear HIS OWN burden” (GAL 6:5). MAT 25:14-15; JOH 21:18-22. 5. Mind also that the sower is active; the seed is not left in storage. MAT 5:14-16. a. Ministers are to, as required, do the work of an evangelist. 2TI 4:5. b. Paul could say that he had “...fully preached the gospel of Christ” (ROM 15:19). c. Paul taught “...publickly, and from house to house,” (ACT 20:20). d. The word of the Lord SOUNDED OUT from the church at Thessalonica (1TH 1:8), without a website! e. Brethren are admonished to inspire questions in those that are without and to be ready with answers. COL 4:5-6; 1PE 3:15. f. Let us not be ashamed of Christ's gospel for any reason. ROM 1:16; MAR 8:38. Consider the seed sown by the wayside. MAT 13:4, 19. 1. These are they which receive not the word with understanding. 2. Satan is the wicked one who snatches the words away. MAR 4:15. a. Satan has always had a great enmity to the words of God and their effects in the hearts of men. GEN 3:1-6. b. Mind that Satan is figured here as fowls (plural). (1) They are birds of the air even as he is the prince of the power of the air. EPH 2:2. (2) Satan does not work alone. REV 12:9. (3) He has multiple darts to use. EPH 6:16. (4) Where the gospel has an open door, many adversaries may be expected. 1CO 16:9. c. MAT 13:19 says the word was sown IN their hearts. This implies that the word got into their hearts but that was inadequate to bring about a desired E. F. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 3 result. (1) The word was sown in the heart but obviously did not germinate and take root. (2) Fruitful hearers lay up, ponder, keep and hide the word in their hearts. It does not just lie on the surface. JOB 22:22; PSA 119:11; LUK 2:19, 51. d. LUK 8:12 says that the devil takes the word out of their hearts “...LEST they should believe and be saved.” (1) There is no profit in the preached word to the unbelieving. HEB 4:2. (2) This also shows a connection between understanding and faith. c/w JOH 8:43-46. (3) The multitude whose heart was waxed gross “...LEST....they should understand with their heart...” (MAT 13:15) was much like the wayside hearer in the parable. 3. LUK 8:5 notes that the seed/word is trodden down. a. This indicates a situation where the word is considered worthless. MAT 5:13; 7:6. b. The truth may be scorned by those who don't understand it. 2PE 2:12. 4. Understanding of God's words is the key to making them plain. PRO 8:8-9. a. Being born of God is the first requirement for understanding. ROM 3:11; JOH 8:43-47. b. After the new birth, the understanding must be opened. LUK 24:45; EPH 1:17-18. c. The words of God must be properly defined. NEH 8:8. d. Obedience to revealed truth is then needed. PSA 111:10; 119:100. e. Without these things, the word is not received with understanding and no fruit is produced. f. A person may not understand the plain words of God because: (1) he is unregenerate. 1CO 2:14. (2) he is regenerate, but blinded by sin, tradition, presuppositional bias or prejudices. EPH 4:17-19; 2CO 3:14-16; GAL 1:13-14. (3) He is regenerate, but spiritually immature. MAT 15:16; 1CO 3:1-2; ISA 28:9. (4) He is regenerate, but mentally immature (e.g. a young child). g. If a person is of sufficient age and mental ability but does not understand God's words, he will not bring forth fruit unto perfection and the state of his soul is questionable. ROM 1:31 c/w JER 4:22. Consider the seed sown on stony ground. MAT 13:5-6, 20-21. 1. The seed fell where there was “...not much earth...no deepness of earth” (MAT 13:5). These are shallow individuals at the very least. a. The good ground which brings forth much fruit is “...an honest and good heart” (LUK 8:15). b. By analogy, therefore, the stony ground hearer has less than an honest and good heart; he has corruptions of heart that hinder his ability to maximize his potential (and these corruptions will be his downfall). c. That this ground is described as stony without much earth implies that there are more negative attributes than positive attributes in this type of hearer. G. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 4 LUK 8:6 notes that the seed withered away “...because it lacked moisture.” This could imply that “Apollos' watering” (1CO 3:7) ran off rather than soaked in, as is the case in someone who hardens his heart against the truth. HEB 3:12-15. The seed sprang up forthwith (immediately, at once, without delay or interval), and withered away just as quick, fruitless. a. It sprang up quicker than the seed on good ground where there was sufficient earth. (1) Beware of hasty conversions! (2) God's words are most fruitful and held fast where they have been proven. 1TH 5:21; ACT 17:11-12. (3) Jesus discouraged uncircumspect discipleship. LUK 14:28-33; 9:62. b. These rapid responders receive the word with joy and “...for a while believe” (LUK 8:13). (1) True believers should receive God's word with joy. ACT 2:41. (2) Mind that such reception is not joy alone or joy for joy's sake; it is joy that is inseparably connected with the word of God. 1TH 1:6. (3) It is when we believe what Scripture tells us that we experience a valid emotion of joy in response to its testimony. ROM 15:13; 1PE 1:8. (4) Christ must dwell in our hearts by faith, not feeling! EPH 3:17. (5) Joy unruled by faith is an obstacle to true faith. LUK 24:41. (6) The stony ground hearers' feeling of joy would soon be replaced by another feeling: they are offended (v. 21). AA. Offend: To hurt or wound the feelings or susceptibilities of; to be displeasing or disagreeable to; to vex, annoy, displease, anger; now esp. To excite a feeling of personal annoyance, resentment, or disgust in (any one). BB. Those who subscribe to Christ based on emotion are likely to unsubscribe from Him by emotion. The stony ground hearer endured only until tribulation or persecution arose because of the word. There is a certain offence of the cross. GAL 5:11. a. “...by and by he is offended” (MAT 13:21). b. by and by: Of sequence of events: a. Straightway, immediately, directly, at once. c. c/w MAR 4:17, “...immediately they are offended.” d. This is not someone who finally, after long or repeated persecution, gets worn down to the point that he no longer hearkens (c/w EXO 6:9); this is someone whose belief and commitment only lasted until the first flack. e. These spring up immediately and wither away just as immediately. Quick in, quick out. f. Persecution and tribulation are promised to true disciples. 2TI 3:12; ACT 14:22. (1) Persecution: The action of persecuting or pursuing with enmity and malignity; esp. the infliction of death, torture, or penalties for adherence to a religious belief or an opinion as such, with a view to the repression or extirpation of it; the fact of being persecuted; an d. 2. 3. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 5 instance of this. Tribulation: A condition of great affliction, oppression, or misery; ‘persecution; distress; vexation; disturbance of life.' (3) Persecution or tribulation may come because of creed or conduct. ACT 4:1-3; 1PE 4:3-4. (4) The world will demonstrate the same abhorrence to the godly elect as it did to Christ. JOH 15:18-20. (5) With the promise of tribulation is the promise of enduring love and ultimate victory. JOH 16:33; ROM 8:35-39. (6) We have had it relatively easy. HEB 12:3-4. (7) “Must I be carried to the skies on flow'ry beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?” (Am I A Soldier Of The Cross, Isaac Watts) 4. The sun arose and scorched the seed on stony ground. The same sun actually works positively where the seed is cast onto good ground. 1PE 1:6-7 c/w ISA 48:10-11; LUK 21:12-13 c/w PHIL 1:12. a. God has been pleased to facilitate the growth of His church through afflictions. EXO 1:12; ACT 8:1. b. Obedience is learned through suffering. HEB 5:8; PSA 119:67, 71, 75. c. Unpleasant trials and chastening are needful pruners. JOH 15:2 c/w HEB 12:11. 5. Troubles come alike to all. How they affect a person depends upon his foundation. MAT 7:24-27. a. The stony ground hearers had “...no root in themselves” (MAR 4:17). (1) They are like mushrooms: rootless growths that pop up quickly which can thrive in the absence of light and in the presence of manure. (2) The analogy to mega-churches is too easy here. b. Fruit may only be born by being connected to the vine of life. JOH 15:4-5. (1) Mind that these words are spoken to Christ's own. (2) This “abiding” in Christ is through His word. JOH 15:7, 10. (3) Victorious believers must be rooted deeply in Christ by faith (which presupposes their acceptance of and submission to His word). COL 2:6-7; EPH 3:16-19; 1JO 5:4. c. Troubles often work ruin in professors whereas they should work “...a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2CO 4:17). Consider the seed sown on thorny ground. MAT 13:7, 22; MAR 4:19; LUK 8:14. 1. The thorns which overpower this type of hearer are the cares, lusts, pleasures of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. What the devil cannot accomplish through ignorance or persecution, he will try to accomplish with carnal concerns or materialism. a. Keep in mind that thorns are associated with the curse. GEN 3:17-18. (1) The love of money is a curse. 1TI 6:10. (2) Living in pleasure is a curse. 1TI 5:6. (3) Excessive cares are a curse. LUK 21:34. b. How many people think that they are blessed when their life is defined by cares, pleasures and riches? c. The ground which bears thorns is not blessed but rejected and nigh unto H. (2) The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 6 cursing and burning. HEB 6:7-8. d. The church at Laodicea mistook thorns for fruit. REV 3:17. e. Pleasures, riches and cares do have their place---but not first place. Note that the seed “...fell among thorns...” (MAT 13:7). The thorns were already there. a. LUK 8:7 says, “...and the thorns sprang up with it...” The contrary elements started growing when the good seed started growing, as if the good seed stimulated the thorns' growth. b. Consider Simon the sorcerer, whose thorns grew rapidly with his “conversion.” ACT 8:9-20. c. Have you ever seen someone, upon hearing the truth, translate its message of Christ into one of personal advancement? d. At the very least, the thorns here represent rival carnal priorities which are deemed more valuable than Christ and His truth. These thorns suck up the moisture and steal the light which should have benefited the good seed. This hearer has not counted all things loss for Christ (PHIL 3:8); he could not take “...joyfully the spoiling of his goods...” (HEB 10:34) and therefore his goods spoiled him. a. Consider Lot, who chose the Eden-like plain of Jordan (GEN 13:10-13) to the detriment of his soul. 2PE 2:8. b. Consider the rich young ruler whom Christ loved but whose goods meant too much to him. MAR 10:17-23. c. Riches can make one forget God. DEU 8:13-14; PRO 30:8-9. The cares of this world can be a major obstacle to coming to Christ. LUK 14:18-20; ACT 26:28. a. The cares of this world can be an obstacle to growing in Christ. LUK 10:38-42; 1CO 7:31-33. b. Thorny ground hearers lack faith to surrender cares to Christ's oversight. 1PE 5:7; PHIL 4:6-7. c. Thorny ground hearers may lack faith to limit cares to Christ's bearable burdens. MAT 11:29-30. (1) They may assume excess responsibilities that burn them out. (2) Our God-ordained priority is to study to be quiet and to mind our own business. 1TH 4:11-12; 2TH 3:11-12; GAL 6:4-5. 2. 3. 4.