|Matthew 13 (NKJV™)|
|18||"Therefore hear the parable of the sower:|
|19||"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.|
|20||"But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;|
|21||"yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.|
|22||"Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.|
|23||"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."|
|24||Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;|
|25||"but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.|
|26||"But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.|
|27||"So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'|
|28||"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'|
|29||"But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.|
|30||'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"|
|31||Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,|
|32||"which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."|
|33||Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."|
|34||All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,|
|35||that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."|
|36||Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."|
|37||He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.|
|38||"The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.|
|39||"The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.|
|40||"Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.|
|41||"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,|
|42||"and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.|
|43||"Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!|
|44||"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.|
|45||"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,|
|46||"who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.|
|47||"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,|
|48||"which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.|
|49||"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,|
|50||"and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."|
|51||Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."|
|52||Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Jesus often used parables to explain spiritual truth to His followers. In Matthew 13, His seven kingdom parables are recorded--word pictures which explain the beginning, opposition, expansion, and culmination of His kingdom. Let's consider His teachings and apply these lessons, so that we may be fellow workers with Him in spreading the good news.
A full one-third of Jesus' recorded teachings is in storytelling form. He loved to teach in parables—earthly stories with heavenly meanings. As we consider several of Jesus' parables in this series, we will be captivated by the master storyteller and gain a deeper understanding of important spiritual truths.
*Compiled from Pastor Skip's Expound messages of the Gospels.
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Greek terms: παραβολὴν; parabolēn-parable; to place or cast alongside
Publications referenced: Your Best Life Now, by Joel Osteen
Figures referenced: Charles Spurgeon
Cross references: Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 64:6; Ezekiel 17; Daniel 4; Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:11; Matthew 16:12; Matthew 18:12-14; Mark 8:15; Luke 19:10; Romans 3:11; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9; Revelation 18:2
Would you turn in your bibles to the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13 and let's pray.
Father, we're confident that as we hold a bible in our hands that we're dealing with, we're considering and we're applying the word of God and in particular the very words of God made flesh, Jesus Christ, deity in a human form, God the Son, the King of Kings speaking of things regarding his Kingdom and the subjects of his Kingdom. We've considered last week and so tonight Father, these wonderful stories, the parables of Jesus help us to think clearly and to see what we might learn from this deepen and further our understanding, that we might not only hear but after tonight tell others. Give us Lord that sensibleness as we approach this wonderful time of the year to tell people who don't know you about you and what you can do for them in Jesus' name, Amen.
"A picture is worth a thousand words" as the saying goes from what we can determine that little statement became popularized in the 1920s by an American advertising firm. It was probably said by others before that period but a pictures worth of thousand words. We know that to be true that's why we have cameras. That's why there are cameras on mobile devices so that you can capture the moment because what a picture can do saves a lot of explaining with words.
But back in the days of Jesus where there were no cameras, they used word pictures, stories and storytelling was huge and rabbis often to teach their disciples deeper spiritual truths, often used analogous terms and parabolic stories.
Jesus is Chapter 7 gives us seven parables of the Kingdom. He talks about the beginning of the Kingdom, the expansion of the Kingdom, the opposition to the Kingdom, the subjects of the Kingdom and the culmination of the Kingdom all in a single chapter.
We estimate by putting all of the red letters side by side in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that a full one third of Jesus' teaching was using this popular rabbinical method of storytelling, parables.
As we mentioned the last time, the word parable, parabolē in Greek means to cast alongside so that if you take a difficult truth or if you take an abstract truth, a spiritual truth and you want to make it understandable. You place alongside that spiritual abstract truth something common, something that is easily understood, a human analogy, something from the natural world and as people understand the thing from the natural world, it will deepen their understanding of what's next to it from the spiritual world.
So, the kingdom parables and we went through the first parable, the Parable of the Sower and we covered but not really explained. We went all the way down about verse 24 but I'm going to take you back to verse 18 just to fill in.
"Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside." or the seed that fell on the pathway. That's the hard soil. And because it's the footpath, the seed can't penetrate, can't become moisturized, can't be tilled and so it just lays on the surface and it's vulnerable.
And because we mentioned last time that birds would follow the one who is sowing the seed would follow them around, he would pick up the seed that fell on the ground. That's the person who as soon as they hear anything remotely about absolute truth, about God or specifically about Jesus Christ, you know the kind, you know the type, they automatically turn off. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it. Don't tell me.
The enemy has comments snatched through the way. They have the hard heart "This is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet." Jesus explains. "he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles."
This is the shallow hearted person. They get all excited. They receive it with joy, they go yes to it automatically, immediately. That's a good sign. But for there to be any growth at all, you need a root system. You have to go deep. If all of your Christian growth is top growth and not under the soil, you won't be able to stand the heat of the summer so to speak, the persecution, the tribulation.
So we know that sunshine is good for plants but the heat on a summer day could also kill a plant. It could take its tall on that tender young shoot unless the roots go down and there's something substantial, a root system that's connected to a water source.
So, this is speaking of the person who is emotional but they just can't stand the heat man, heat being ridicule, persecution, and tribulation because you're a believer, you didn't expect to get a hassle like this, you didn't expect the repercussions or in Sunday's terminology, the scars that would come because of it, and you don't last. You need a better root system so they endure only for a while. When tribulation and persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know two truths. Number one, it's the most awesome experience possible. There is a peace of mind, a peace of heart that you experience. You have the hope of heaven but at the same time -- and here's the dichotomy. It's the most wonderful experience but the Christian life is not easy. It's hard. There are some difficult hot spots that occur in every believer's life. And to stand the heat, you need a root system.
To paint the picture that the Christian is all -- smile, joy, uplifting to uplifting thought everyday is silly. It's stupid. Your body couldn't handle that kind of experience. You know that's not true. Now, I know it's popular to say that and the most popular theologies unfortunately will tout that.
A national best selling book is called "Your Best Life Now" saying you should be use to be living -- this is your life and this should -- you should have your best life now, prosperity, success, even wealth, is your best life now? Well if you're not a Christian, your best life is now and I would suggest that you get all that you can out of this life now because this is as good as it will get. After this will be eternal torment and eternal dying so to speak.
So if you're an unbeliever, this is your best life now. If you're a believer, this isn't even close. In fact, bible says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard. It hasn't even entered into the heart of men the things that God has prepared for those who loved him." What you're going to experience in the future is unimaginable. We only get a taste of it so the book really should be "Your best life then" not now.
Probably you even said "I suppose that the sufferings we experience now, the sufferings we experience now aren't worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed." so it's not easy. It's a wonderful life. It's the best possible life but it's not easy and your forefathers and your brothers and sisters around the world in persecuted countries are experiencing very difficult times because they're believers.
To walk into a prison where somebody has been arrested because they are pastor they've lost their family and to say, "Hey, do you want to read this book, Your Best Life Now?" would be ludacris. It's not even on his radar screen. He is willfully giving up the present comforts for the future glory.
So, Jesus is talking about a person who receives but doesn't really get that. And during times of tribulation and persecution, they will fall away. They go, "I didn't signed up for this. I'm out of here." Immediately he stumbles.
Verse 22 "Now he who received the seed among the thorns among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful." Oh, I thought I had a water. Verse 23 "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty."
Now in verse 22, it's speaking about somebody who is once fruitful. Listen, once fruitful but their life got busy, busy. Now, there's a word we all get, we all understand. "Yeah, that's me. I'm busy." Good. It's better to be busy than you have nothing to do but it's also good to keep your priorities because if you're too busy for God, you're too busy. If you're too busy for spiritual things, if you're too busy for spiritual nourishment, God bless you summer. Give it up for summer -- then you're just too busy.
Notice what he says, "The cares of this world." I don't know your personal situation but all of you, all of us, we have cares, we have worries, we have things that can strangle us emotionally and they are all particular to our individual lives." They can choke the seed.
A day of worrying is more exhausting than a week of work. Amen? Nothing zaps you of energy and motivation like the cares, the worries, the conundrums, the problems, the issues of this life. And just when you deal with one, another comes. So in many ways, this is a good case to live simply, to keep priorities and to live simply and to stay on target.
He also mentions in verse 22, "The deceitfulness of riches." Interesting phrase. Why are riches deceitful? Because they make promises that they can't keep. They deceive you. The commercial says, "If you buy this, you'll be satisfied.
You know how it is with technology. We love technology until the new iPad comes up.
"Oh. How is that many megapixels in the cam? Oh, it's that fast?" "Gosh, this thing is so slow. I have to wait like a millisecond. I just can't believe it."
So built-in to our worldly system, built into the world of things and gadgets and even advertisement is this whole idea of making you dissatisfied with the previous product so you'll get the new one and you get the new one and you are totally satisfied. Man, you're stoked that day, that week temporarily but not for long.
Now there's nothing wrong with having gadgets, there's nothing wrong with having wealth, there's nothing wrong with being a rich person being successful, nothing wrong with it. However, that comes with a warning. The most complicated lives I have ever known are people who have lots and lots of things or material, goods or money. They tend to crowd the altar of one's heart. And it's not just those who have.
The Bible says, "Those who would be rich, they fall into air. They are striving hard to get it. They can choke up the seed and it becomes unfruitful. Then he who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it who indeed bears fruit and produces some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty."
So Jesus has explained in that parable the course of the kingdom. The kingdom will expand and the expansion will come by the sowing of the seed of the word of the God, the truth and people will hear it. Not everyone will get into it, some people immediately reject it or marginalize it, some people get emotional but they won't last, some people will be vary shallow in their commitment but there will be some and it's always just some, just a remnant, true believers, the 25% of those who are bearing forth fruit at different levels. Some are little, some are lot, and some in between so the Kingdom is expanded. Now, we get into the opposition of the Kingdom.
What Jesus does here is he changes his analogy from the seed that has sown into what the seed produces in terms of a person. I'll speak of the wheat as being a person and the weeds as being a person. So, I'm just prepping for the next one, the next parable, the Weeds and the Wheat or the Weed and the Tares. The wheat are genuine believers. As you will see, the weeds are false believers. Another parable he put forth to them saying -- now, would you just allow me to do something before we get into this?
In the first parable and we covered the explanation just now. In that first parable, Jesus gives his disciples and us insight into what it's like to invest spiritually in the life of somebody else. If you were to look at every person or if you were to look at your workplace or where you go to school or your neighborhood or your family as a field and the potential if you were to sow truth into those people's hearts what might grow as a result of that.
Now, I was reminded the truth of that fist parable in this letter. I just picked it up off my desk before I came out. It's a letter from a gal. I won't read it all because it's several pages and it includes another letter from somebody else but I want you to get this. She says, "I listen to your clear and concise teachings of God's word on 90.1 out of Binghamton Windsor, New York. And on Saturday night I attend Calvary of Albuquerque via your live webcasting. To put it simply, thank you."
So she tells that she was listening and they have a pastor of the month program and this one pastor in the New York area was going to send a resource to one of the callers, who ever would call in to the radio station. She called in, she won the resource. The pastor sent her a package of some of his recourses she said, "Along with a big set of MP3, stacks of MP3 called 729." Now, 729 is our series from Genesis to revelation.
And so she said, "He sent your teaching Genesis Revelation and he said perhaps I would learn and enjoy the teaching of God's word as much as he did." so he was passing the resource alone.
The letter goes on to say she took a trip to Peru. She met a young man named Eric who was her translator. This young man said he wanted to study the word of God and become a pastor one day. She went back home and she thought of Eric. What could this young man use in terms of his pastoral ministry? So she thought, "I'll give him a good study bible, get him a couple of commentaries and I'm going to give him a 729 Genesis to Revelations, Skip's teaching." She sent that to him. Didn't hear anything back, didn't hear anything back, didn't hear anything back.
Finally she gets a letter like a couple of years later. The letter had been sent, forwarded by a friend he forgot about it, kept it in his book, "Oh yeah let me give you this letter from Eric." and the letter basically says "Thank you for all the stuff." He is pastoring a small church now in Peru and he said, "And thank you for the bible study, the MP3 CD from Pastor Skip Heizt(ph)." It's spelled a little bit differently than I spell it.
He says "It has changed my thoughts about how to teach the bible. Before I would preach on Sunday, I was thinking 'What portion of the bible can I preach from now?' But after listening to the CDs, I started to preach the word of God book by book, chapter by chapter every Sunday. Now, I'm preaching the book of Joshua and I'm in Chapter 9. So I believe that God led you to send the CDs to me and to teach God's word this way so that I would do it for the rest of my life. My goal is to preach all the books and chapters of the 66 books of the bible for the rest of my life."
Now, here's what got my attention. She connected these dots. "Your MP3 729 Genesis to Revelation, Albuquerque, New Mexico to this pastor up in Poughkeepsie, New York to the bridge, Christian Radio Old Bridge, New Jersey to me in Hallstead, Pennsylvania and then her mission trip to AMG mission team from Chattanooga, Tennessee to pastor Eric in this church in Peru, isn't our God amazing?" and so you think of the spiritual replication and reproduction.
So I just want to share that letter because you just never know. You might be planting a seed that could germinate that person might move away, might tell somebody else then that person maybe the next Billy Graham. So, look at the potential that God has placed before you and just go rub your hands go, "Lord this is awesome. What might grow because of this?"
Well, here's something else that might have grown out. Verse 24, another parable he put forth to them saying "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
The word for tares, I called it weeds is the Greek word zizania and it's believed that it refers to the bearded darnel. The bearded darnel looks identical to wheat. When it first begins to grow, you cannot tell the difference. Servants would go out and check the fields regularly and they would see what's growing, monitor it and see if anybody had sabotage their field.
Now get this, in ancient times it was common practice if you hated somebody to sow bearded darnel in their wheat field because it's going to crowd out the wheat. You're not going to get as big of a harvest that's why the Roman Empire had laws against sowing weeds in fields like these. There were actually laws against it.
So at first, you can't tell the difference. You can't tell them apart. They're indistinguishable. But once the plant begins to form its head, it's unmistakable. So that's a weed. That is not. That's false. That's true. So that's the point of the parable. Now I'll explain the parable in just a minute.
In Verse 29 he said "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them." The servants would see the weeds growing up and say "Let us just take them out." But because they're so close and especially in their tenderness, you can't always tell them apart. "No. Just wait until the very end of the season then it will be unmistakable and you can pull out the ones that are the wrong ones and keep the ones that are the right one." "Let them alone." he says.
Throughout history unfortunately, there have been Christian movements that have tried to forcibly evict tares from the wheat field or forcibly change people into believing the way we believe. And that's a mistake.
Constantine who became what is called the first Christian emperor because history says he saw a sign at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and the sign was the sign of a cross and the sign said, in this -- or the word said, "In this sign go and concur." that after the battle, after he won, he attributed to the cross, attributed to Christ, proclaimed himself a Christian, issued the Edict of Milan.
Basically the Christians who've been persecuted, that edict went away so that the new edict was Christians aren't going to be persecuted. We treat them with love and respect. But later on, people who did not believe what he thought was the orthodox way, he was going after them and punishing them and even killing some.
Then there's the horrible history of the crusaders who thought, "Let's expunge the Holy Land of infidels. Infidels according to the Christian tradition they, said Muslims and Jews, butchering them. Pregnant women killing them with one swipe of the sword and soldiers rejoicing "That by the grace of God I'd kill two." with one blow in the name of Christ or the Spanish inquisition inquiring to find out who's a believer or not and then the laws that were passed against them. That is a mistake. Jesus says "No, lest while you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest."
Now hold that though because there'll be an explanation of this in the few verses "And at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Now hold that thought because the disciples are at this point going, "I don't totally get it" so he's going to explain it. But Verse 31, another parable he put forth to them.
` Okay, we have a text. Let's put this up a question that comes up and it says "There are many commentators and many interpretations of these parables. How do we know who is right?" Well first of all we have to assume -- not assume. We have to say we know that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he gave the parable. We know that the disciples totally didn't understand it all because they asked Jesus the question. The first parable he explained himself, the second one they go, "We don't get that whole wheat and weed thing. Could you explain that?" so he'll tell them. And then in the explanations come some keys to helping us understand the rest of the parables.
Now if you recall, we said that the first parable is the key to understanding all the parable. Jesus said "If you don't understand this parable, how then will you not understand all the -- how will you understand the other parables?" So, he gives a certain key. So if certain things mean one thing in one parable, you can be pretty rest assured that they're going to hold that similar value in the other parables.
Where a lot of the commentators have gone wrong and I'm not saying that I'm smarter than all of the other commentators, I am saying that where they have gone wrong is a failure to look at the balance of the scripture and find the key terms as explained by Christ or the scripture in other places and I'll show you that as we go through some of these parables.
Let's continue and you'll see it. Here's the third parable, "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds." Now before any of you ask the question, "What do you mean it's the least of all the seeds? There are smaller seeds in the world than the mustard seed." he's not talking about every seed on earth. He's speaking about the typical seeds of a Middle Eastern garden, an herb garden. They would understand this. Some of you, "Yeah, that's right. In my herb garden, that's the smallest seed. It's the least." "Which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
The mustard seed doesn't grow into a tree typically. It grows into a bush. But there is a variety called the Kardal mustard in the Middle East that grows into a bushy tree about 12 to 15 feet high and the branches can be substantive enough in certain cases to hold the weight of a bird. It's not typical but they can grow abnormally large and this is what most believed Jesus was referring to first of all. What is the interpretation?
Here's the typical most popular interpretation is that the gospel started small like a seed, 120 then upper room, first of all 12, first of all Jesus then the 12 then the 120 in the upper room and that seed was sown on Pentecost and it has grown, it permeated the Roman Empire. It has gone throughout the world and the world is able to lodge in its branches. Humanity is able to take refuge underneath that marvelous bushy tree called the church. That's the typical interpretation.
Here's the problem and it answers the question on the text. Jesus doesn't offer an explanation of that parable so we're left with interpreting this way. We have to find things that Jesus has already interpreted so we can make this interpretation. Since there are no explanations, let's find out what Jesus has already explained and apply that to this parable.
Okay, so first of all we have birds. Before a person says "Oh yeah birds. That's the world. That's the world taking shelter underneath the wings of the church, people coming to be saved, those are Christians." Well, in the Parable of the Sower, the birds came down and stole the seed. Jesus says "That was the wicked one." right?
So in the parables, the birds were wicked. They weren't good, they were bad and there's enough of that symbolism throughout the scripture all the way to the Book of Revelation Chapter 18, "Mystery Babylon has fallen has fallen. Heaven rejoices." It has become the habitation, the cage of every unclean bird because bird was seen as a symbol of evil.
And listen, I've been around. I've told you my pigeon stories. You don't have to convince me. I think it's a very up symbol in many cases. So in the parables and in other scriptures, birds aren't necessarily good things but can typify evil. Then you have the tree itself.
In a few passages in the Old Testament, the Jewish listener would understand this. Daniel Chapter 4, Ezekiel and others tree symbolize world power. So yes, Jesus is saying the kingdom of God is a like a mustard seed. It is going to grow but all that lodges within its branches aren't necessarily good things.
There's going to be a lot of evil that goes on in the name of my kingdom. There's going to be wonderful things that happened but in the name of the king there will also be horrible things that happened.
That's how I see the interpretation of this parable based upon some of those key elements. It will be large enough to possess lots of people and lots of belief systems and even false teachers and again, you'll get another explanation in the next parable.
"Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." Now with the first parable of the mustard seeds speaks about, where growth speaks of something inward because it's hidden inside of something.
In every kitchen every Jewish kitchen, the women would keep -- well, this is when they would make their bread, their leavened bread the bread with yeast, they would take from the dough once it rises before it's put in the over a little piece of the leavened or fermented dough and they would place it aside and keep it in their kitchens so that next time they would make dough, they would then hide that little piece of fermented dough in the middle of the batch of dough and that yeast would eventually permeate to the whole thing and then they would take a little bit more dough put it aside and that cycle would continue. That's leaven. Something is going to permeate and go through the whole thing. It's speaking of growth.
The typical explanation of this parable, the popular explanation of this parable is that that's the church. Starts small, grows to the world and eventually it's the concurring power of the gospel. This is an especially popular interpretation by the dominion theologians if you're familiar with that branch of theology. We're going to take over the world for the sake -- we're going to bring the kingdom of God in now. We have to vote in Christian politicians and we'll make Christian institutions and we'll Christianize the world, kingdom theology.
Granted the church started small. Jesus was born in the back waters of the Roman Empire and a little nothing town called Bethlehem but it happened to be the city of David fulfilling scripture. He took around him 12 men that he called apostles and he sent them out their other disciples as well 120 only in that upper room. On Pentecost, 3000 souls came to know Christ. Later on, another 5000.
It is believed that the early church after the first several months had upwards(ph) of 20,000 people. It permeated the Roman Empire. It travelled around the world and one day in the millennium, Jesus Christ will rule and reign over all the earth.
So, there is truth in that but just these birds meant something evil. Understand that the term leaven doesn't sound good to Jewish people. It's a symbol of evil. First of all at Passover, all leaven was purged from their homes. All the sacrifices of the Jews had to be offered without leaven because of the symbolism of its permeation, its fermenting, its breaking down, its putrefying so it's a symbol of evil.
Listen to this, Jesus said to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." And again, "Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees." Now at first they go, "What is he talking about? Does he want some bread?" and the author goes on to describe he weren't talking about the leaven of bread. He was saying the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy so leaven meant hypocrisy. The leaven of the Sadducees meant their false their false doctrines.
Jesus spoke of the leaven of Herod twice. In the New Testament epistles, Paul said "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." Now the first time he mentions that is First Corinthians and he's speaking about immorality in the church. If you allow immorality and immoral people to go unchecked, that is going to spread like leaven, like fermented dough through the whole lump. A little leaven leavens the whole lump so he's telling the church "Take care of that situation."
When he wrote the second time to Galacia, he said the same thing "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." This time he was speaking of legalism, legalistic pursuits within the church that were also destroying the integrity of their belief system. So it's not a good thing when he says "It's like leaven that a woman hides in a measure of meal until all of it was leavened".
So yes, the church is going to spread like we mentioned. It's going to go throughout the whole world. But that growth is not going to be necessarily good growth.
Within the branches will be evil birds, false teachers, false doctrine and it's going to permeate.
You and I know the difference between Christianity, real Christianity and the larger umbrella, let's call it Christendom. Under that umbrella of Christendom are a lot of different belief systems many of them are opposed to the Christ that we believe in. They're opposed to the teachings of Christ. They call themselves Christians and they're in the branches. They're in the dough. They're under the umbrella of Christendom and you and I would I say "Well, that's not a real believer but the world is no any different." To them, a Born Again Christian, a Mormon, a Jehovah Witness, a Unitarian are all the same, unification church, Sun Myung Moon, Christian.
There are a lot of birds, fowls that have lodged within the branches and are under the umbrella of Christendom that is not true. You go, "That's bad. Something's got to be done." Oh it will, it will. There is a judgment coming. Until then, we have to preach the truth and we have to be patient with people. We have to be patient with people. It's a tender line. All of these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables. I better speed up.
And without a parable, he did not speak to them that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets saying "I will open my mouth in parables. I have let our things kept secret from the foundation of the world." And then Jesus sent out the multitude away and went in to the house.
And as disciples came to him saying, so now they're alone, they're not embarrassed to ask this question. Jesus is inside. They don't want to act dumb outside with everybody listening so his disciples came to him saying "Explain to us the Parable of the tares in the field." He answered and he said to them, he didn't go -- he just answered them, I like that. Ands he said to them "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man." That's Jesus Christ. "He is the initial sower of truth. He is the one who initiates the kingdom. He is the King." He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
The field is the world. Now many interpretations -- that was one of the questions we had, many interpretations have gone wrong because they have failed to consider that Jesus said "The field is the world."
So another parable is they make the field this, and they make the field the church, and they make the field that. "The field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom but the tares are the sons of the wicked one." So Jesus says, "These are people we're talking about. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
So the kingdom was started. It was inaugurated. It began with Jesus Christ. He sowed into the disciples. They became apostles. They sowed into the lives of other people and got passed down. The truth was sown in to our hearts as well. But Satan comes along and he opposes the work of Christ by planting his emissaries in different places, borrowing certain truths that sounds oh so Christian to the uninitiated and planting them in congregations or starting whole new works in false doctrine.
And so, there is the expansion of the kingdom, there is the opposition of the kingdom, a lot of growth, a lot of good growth. But with that growth was also false growth and false doctrine. That's now, in the end it will all be sorted out. What does that mean to us? It's simple. This is isn't the Day of Judgment. This is the day of evangelism. Don't worry about the judgment. Worry about the evangelism. Just sow the seed.
I walked into a bookstore one time in Southern California years ago. I didn't know a lot of the doctrines that I came to learn. But I walked in to a bookstore and there was somebody who is waiting on me and there was somebody else who came inside and was just asking a few questions, asked me a few questions. And I could tell this person wasn't a believer and was sincerely asking questions about truth. And I began witnessing to him. And the person behind the register was listening, was listening and getting very nervous which I felt odd in a Christian bookstore.
And finally, the guy I was talking to left and he came up to me, the teller behind the counter, he said, he shook his head, he goes "That wasn't wise what you were doing." I said "Pardon me?" "I heard the whole conversation" he said. "How do you know that that person was chosen by God? If that wasn't one of God's chosen, you shouldn't be witnessing to him." And I said "Well, God didn't tell me who he has chosen and who he is not. Let me ask you a question. How do you know he is not chosen?" "Well he is not a believer." I said "Yet. Don't forget to add that word 'yet.' We may have just sown a seed and that may germinate into something wonderful." Well you know --
And just the whole getting down, the whole Calvinistic band if you don't preach the Gospel to everybody because there is some who are elect and some were not and that probably guy isn't an elect person and just -- I didn't understand the belief system at that time but I knew enough to know he was wrong.
And I read what Charles Spurgeon who I think is a balance Calvinist. He said "It would have been nice if the Lord would have just put a yellow stripe down the back of every person he has elected to make it easy for us." But he hasn't done that. Only he can see the stripe, we can't. He just told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and I think that's a good balance. I do believe in election. I don't know who they are and so we're told to go for it and God will sort it out. Now is the time of evangelism.
Verse 44, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls who when he found one pearl of great price went and sold all that he had and he bought it. We have two parables as I see it teach the same basic truth or truths.
Truth number one, the value of the treasure or the pearl depending on the parable. Number two, the delight of the one who acquires it, value and delight so we have two parables that I think teach the same basic thing. Here's a question. Who is the man? Who is the merchant? What's the treasure? What are the pearls? Here's the popular interpretation. Ready?
Jesus Christ is the pearl of great price and the treasure. The sinner is the one who seeks. And when he finds Jesus Christ and knows that he's the truth, it's worth giving up everything that he might acquire salvation, really? That's what it means?
Now I have a problem with that interpretation first of all because back in Verse 38, the field is the world. I can't buy that. Number two, the man in that parable is Jesus Christ. So again, we don't have the interpretation given of that I now have to use certain key elements and start making application.
Okay, so let's break down that popular interpretation. Jesus is the treasure and the sinner is seeking Christ. First of all, Jesus is not hidden. He's probably the best known figure in all of human history based on what I have read in Encyclopedia Britannica, based on hits on the internet, probably that name, he is the most popular person who ever existed. He is not hidden.
Number two. The sinner does not seek God. I know it might feel that way from a human standpoint but doesn't the Bible say there are none who seek God and there is none who are righteous, no not one.
None who seek after God. All we like sheep have gone astray. So that doesn't fit.
Number three. Salvation can't be purchased can it? The last time I checked which was today, salvation is a free gift, not of works, it is a free gift. You believe and he gives it to you. You don't earn it. Number four. If we could purchase it, what do you have of any worth that you could sell to get him? "Well, you know I'm a pretty--" Don't even go there. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags.
Now this is a picture of Jesus Christ who came down form heaven and gave everything. He sold all so to speak to buy the world, to get the treasure and the treasure is you and I. It's a picture of the Savior seeking the sinner not the sinner seeking the Savior. Now that fits. It fits along the lines of another parable.
Jesus spoke of about a man who had a hundred sheep and one sheep went astray and he dint go after it. Forget that sheep, I got good 99 here. He left the 99 and went seeking the one lost sheep am I right? Jesus said that he had come to seek and to save that which was lost. Now that fits the parable.
Something is not worthy about that second Parable of the Pearl. Did you know that pearls were not valuable to Jewish people at that time? There is not a mention of a pearl in the entire Old Testament. The Jewish people saw pearls sort of like coral from the ocean. It is like, "Yeah, it's sort of nice but whatever." not valuable. It was valuable however to gentiles. That should be a little clue for you.
Number two, the pearl was the result of an injury. It was the result of an organism dealing with an irritation, an irritation. Precious gems usually are mind and cut and polished, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, not a pearl.
What happens is the little piece of dirt works its way into the shell of an oyster and irritates it. The oyster responds by sending out this produced serum called nacre and it covers the little piece of sand with the layer of nacre and then another secretion, then another secretion, and another secretion until the pearl is formed over a period of time. It's the response of the organism to the irritation that got inside of it. That's beautiful.
That's a beautiful picture of gentiles not Jew -- we're not under the original covenant. We've been grafted in. We are basically -- well look -- I'm a piece of dirt covered in the righteousness of Christ. That's the pearl, a piece of dirt covered with something beautiful. The irritation of sin has been covered by the sinlessness and the perfection of Christ and that is just a beautiful illustration.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet." So those of you who remember that 1960s show, do you remember it, Dragnet? Okay a lot of people -- we did a play here? Okay. Joe Friday, that's not what he's talking about. Sorry he didn't put that in your mind.
"the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Okay, the disciples all understood this parable. They were fishermen. There were three types of fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Number one, the slowest kind was the line and hook. That's where you're catching one fish at a time. It's the slowest method. They didn't do much of that. The only time you do that if you just want a fish to go eat right now. But those who work in the trade use two other types.
Type number two was the individual personal net that is where you take a net that has a cord attached in weights and you fling it out and it makes this large round circle that goes over a portion of water.
There are weights that go down over a section and fish are caught in that individual net and you pull in a cord and you make a catch.
The third was the dragnet. It took a team. You had usually two boats and a net that would hang down in the water, weights at the bottom, floats on the top so it was like a moving wall. And the boats would encircle an area and drag it to the shore. Now that would drag in everything. Good fish, bad fish, debris, plastic bottles, they didn't have those then but they would now if you did it. You'll would get everything.
So, then you have to pick and throw the garbage away. You have to throw the bad fish away and you keep the good fish, put them in baskets, take them to market. It's parable of the judgment that is coming. In then the end of the age, Verse 50 "Cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
I just want you to notice something as we our way through the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus will speak more of judgment and more of hell than anyone else in the Bible. Don't you ever think that hell was invented by some crazed preacher or angry fundamentalist? It's a biblical doctrine.
And what breaks my heart is that every single day, 147,000 people die on earth and will stand before God's judgment and God's dragnet is slowly but steadily moving through every single day of history moving towards the shores of judgment. And one day, God will deal with every single fish.
So, we have an opportunity to tell people the truth. We have an opportunity to respond to Christ. And Jesus said to them, "This just tickles me." He said to them "Have you understood all these things?" They said to him "Yes Lord."
Now if I would have been there I'd go, "Oh really?" So why did you have to ask him a couple of times? What did you mean by that? "Have you understood what I said about the kingdom?" "Yup." "You understand how precious people are to me?" "Yup." You understand that the Kingdom of God is going to grow but there's going to be a lot of bad stuff that happens associated with it?" "Oh yeah, I get it all." I don't think they did but they said they did.
Now Jesus sort of turns the responsibility on them. He said to them, "Therefore, every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out his treasure or out of his treasure things new and old. "Okay, you understand these things? Now you have a responsibility. You've just graduated from being a king's kid to a kid's scribe. You have a responsibility with all the truths that you now know and understand to provide those truths into people's lives."
Now a householder or the head of a household was responsible to provide for those in the house and usually had a room or a storehouse where he would keep everything that was needed and distributed as it was required. So the truths of the kingdom of God are to be brought out new and old, good and bad, truth about heaven, truth about hell, all of it so the people can get it and understand it.
And so it is with us. Once we understand, we are responsible. You have heard our responsibility in some form of fashion, you can shoot off an e-mail, you can have a conversation with a friend, you can make a phone call, you can write a letter if people do that anymore. Well they do, I just got one -- and feed into other lives the truths that God has fed into yours.
Actually it's a perfect place for us to quit tonight because Verse 53 could even be attached to the next Chapter in the way it transitions as Jesus moves from where he is in Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee area to Nazareth, his hometown so we will pick it up next time as we get into Chapter 14.
Keep praying for my voice. It might sound like a totally different person the next week. I don't know but let's pray tonight.
Father we want to thank you that you call us to be your kids. We are wheat in the field. We have grown and we have born fruit. We are thankful Lord that as weak as we are, you delight in using the base, the foolish, the weak, that you might get the glory and the strength might be in the truth more than the truth bearer.
I thank you Father sincerely for the level of hunger in the lives in so many who have gathered here tonight, those who have gathered at our Santa Fe(ph) campus, those who have chosen to watch online or listening by radio. I pray that your Holy Spirit would do a deep work with these truths and that they would be added to our arsenal so that we might be a blessing to other people that we will never become a terminal of your blessing but a channel of your blessing in Jesus' name. Amen.