Parables could be described as an earthly story with a heavenly connection – but that is not complete or true.
They can be used as a comparison – “the kingdom of God is like…”
Let’s talk about the Kingdom of God / Heaven.
- It is not a visible earthly organization.
- It does not occupy a specific territory here on earth
- The Kingdom of God is God’s dominion – it is his ruling activity.
- Think of it more as the Reign of God – the Activity of God
- God rules in the hearts of believers through the power of his word.
- He calls people by the gospel and through this gospel he creates saving faith in the hearts of these people.
- This may seem hard to understand in these hard times with ISIS etc but…
- God rules over the whole world and directs the events of men and of nations in the interest of the church – all believers.
- Sometimes we can clearly see God’s hand — perhaps as we look back through the centuries – and at other times we are just left scratching out heads.
Here is a main point of the parables that I think is often missed – There are 2 different hearers – those with ears to hear and those who do not have ears to hear — and this evokes 2 different types of response.
Take note – v. 1-35 are presented outside to the general public, the crowds – v. 36-52 are given inside the house, in private to the disciples.
The Parable of the Sower
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
- What same day? What house? What sea? Where was Jesus?
2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
- I walked out of my house this morning, there were no great crowds waiting for me. But it would be great to live at the beach.
- So, what’s wrong with this picture – why am I standing and you are sitting?
3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.
- This is a good vocational statement – if you have been called to be a sower, then it is good that you are out sowing.
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
- Is this the way a farmer sows seed?
5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
- Do you have ears?
The Purpose of the Parables
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
- Notice that the disciples did not ask Jesus to explain the parable.
- The asked why he was speaking in parables
- What are you doing Jesus? Are you trying to hide truth – are you trying to confuse people?
11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
- Is truth just for some
- Was Jesus just a Calvinist, giving truth only to the elect and blinding those who are going to be cast into hell?
12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
- Who is the one who has? = the believer
- Has not = unbelievers – that wicked and adulterous generation
- They not only do not get what Jesus is passing out – but whatever they have will be taken away.
- This is why the parables are told – to give more and take away more.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
- What? Weren’t we always taught that the parables were to make the teachings of Jesus more clear?
- But the parables cut both ways – law & gospel depending on the hearer
- For those who do not hear – for those who reject Jesus, it is a pronouncement of the law on them… and not just future judgment.
- But a word of gospel for those who have ears to hear … and that also is a type of judgment.
14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
- Matthew once again goes back to quoting Isaiah and finding fulfillment in Jesus.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
- What? Jesus preaching in parables so people actually would not see and hear?
- This my friends is judgment on unbelief … in the present.
- This is scandalous stuff.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
- 16 & 17 are the gospel part
- Today – the today for them is what the whole OT has been coming to.
- These are the folks spoken of in V. 8 & 23