Jesus spoke in Parable: 13:1-52.
(Read Matt 13:1-52)
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives eight parables that illustrates the nature of the kingdom of God. It was the common method of teaching in the near east to convey spiritual truth through earthly stories. Even though Jesus spoke to multitude, they ignored and rejected these truths because they never understood the gospel. So, Jesus spoke to them in parables. Jesus interpreted the parable in private to his disciples. Four of these parables were addressed to the disciples and rest to unbelieving public. Some suggest that there are thirty-four parables in total in the gospels.
The Parable of the Sower: 13:4-23. The parable of the sower is one of the few parables recorded in the first three gospels. This parable is about the soil which represent the hearts of people. It is about our receptivity to the seed, which is the Word of God. The only objective of the sowing the Word is to produce fruit in our hearts, which creates in us a greater desire for godliness. Sowing seed was an ancient practice among farmers. The seed is the word of God and the Sowers are those who preach the gospel. Some seed fell on the wayside and the bird came and ate them. They represent those who reject the gospel because they never understand the gospel (Matt 13:18). Some seed fell on stony places. These people reject the gospel because their reception of the gospel was superficial. They are unwilling to endure hardship for the gospel (Matt 13:21). Third group of seed fell among thorns. They represent those who hear and accept the gospel. But the worldliness and materialism made them unfruitful (Matt 13:22). The fourth group of seed fell on the good ground and produced large crop. It represents a well–plowed and prepared heart that receives the gospel. They demonstrate their faith in Christ by the way they live (13:23). They produce God honoring fruits. The unsaved people cannot produce fruit. We must pay attention to what we hear to become fruitful Christians (Luke 8:18). Also nothing should stop us from sharing the gospel because it may fall onto hearts that are ready to receive Jesus.
The parable of the Tares: 13:24-30. The kingdom of God is compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While men were sleeping, the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. The farmer is the Son of Man and the field is the world and the good seed represents the people of the kingdom (Matt 13:37). The weeds are the people who belong to the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world and the harvesters are the angels. Just as the weeds are separated out, all who do evil will be separated and thrown into hell fire. But the godly will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. The master allowed both to grow together until the harvest. God does not wipe out all evil from the world immediately. Jesus explains the wisdom of it. The farmer will not damage his good crop by pulling up the weeds growing near the roots of wheat. If God would prematurely remove the wickedness from the world, it would interfere with the mission of the church. He is patiently giving more time to those who have not yet believed Jesus (2 Pet 3:9). Whenever the church has experienced revival, the false religions have grown by its side with imitations and deceptions. Half-truth is more dangerous than a lie. Christ is the Lord of the harvest who directs the missionary mandate of the church. We must be on guard against half-truths and lies.
The Parable of the Mustard seed: 13:31-46. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seed but it becomes the largest of garden plants. The birds come and find shelter in its branches. The idea is that the tiny beginning of the church will gain great numerical growth. This numerical growth is not a true picture of spiritual growth. The birds finding shelter foreshadow the false teaching that is going to influence the church.
The parable of the Yeast: 13:33-35. The kingdom of God is like yeast used to make bread. Leaven is symbolic of evil (Mark 8:15; Gal 5:9). Even though only a small amount of leaven used, it could ferment large amount of flour. Similarly, the false profession of unsaved Christians will spread fast and contaminate the church. False doctrines can destroy the church.
The parable of the hidden treasure: 13:44. The kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field. The man discovered the hidden treasure and bought the field. God has paid a great price for our redemption. He sent his Son to redeem us (1 Pet 1:18-19). Our self-efforts could not save us. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. We are bought with a great price and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3). How thankful we must be to God for his saving grace and mercy!
The parable of the pearl: 13:45-46. The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great value. The merchant who searches the precious pearls is God. He sold everything he owned to buy it. We are bought with a great price (1 Cor 6:20). That price was the life of Christ. Those who trust Christ are precious to God because they are bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Having saved we must continue to focus on his grace and mercy by reading his Word and meditating on him. We are precious to Christ.
The Parable of the Fishing Net: 13:47-52. In the parable of the fishing net, Jesus is using the imagery of fishing and describes what the kingdom of heaven is like. When the net was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. They collected the good fish and threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. This parable speaks of three stages of evangelism. The first is the invitation when the net is in the water. The second step is the day the net is drawn in. The third step is the separation of good fish from the bad. The gospel is offered to all universally. We proclaim gospel to all by pleading on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20). There is no limit on the scope of the gospel, but there is a limit on the time. Many people hear the gospel, but for some reason do not believe. The longer the delay, the less moved they are to receive the gospel message. Believing the gospel is limited to the brief time of this life (Heb 9:27). We cannot escape from God’s judgment if we neglect so great salvation (Heb 2:3). It is Christ alone who can save us. The disciples understood the meaning of the parable and its interpretation.
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth: 13:53-58.
(Read Matt 13:53-58)
When Jesus finished telling the parables, he returned to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue. Everyone was astonished at his wisdom and his miracles. They said “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? And his sisters are they not all with us? Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty power? And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (Matt 13:57). They were jealous of Jesus because of his exposure and popularity. They felt inferior because they could not do what Jesus did. Insecurity and fear always breed Jealousy. In fact, jealousy is irrational. It can destroy relationship, family and the church. Jesus did only few miracles at Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matt 13:58). The '"carpenter’s son" refers to Jesus’ family trade of Joseph who was his legal father. Jesus had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3). There is no valid reason for not believing that these brothers and sisters were not his half siblings in normal sense (John 2:12; 7:5; Mark 3:21). They were the children of Mary and Joseph. Two of them James and Jude later became disciples of Jesus. The gospel reveals that God is eager to show his mercy to anyone who comes to Christ in humble faith. Jealousy is destructive and evil in Christian life.