is not correct to assert that Jesus of Nazareth invented the parable – the
device itself goes back at least to the period of the Judges. But the parable certainly
is the teaching device most associated with him. Perhaps it appears that the
parable is simply an aid to the memory (which it is), but we may see certain
other advantages in the parable which might cause us to pay more attention.
appeal to the simple – those who can’t understand “theology” can
understand the homelike example. Parables don’t prove – but they do make
things clear to those who listen.
often add an element of emotion to what might otherwise be a purely
intellectual exercise. Wheat and tares come to life for the gardener
engaged in a war against weeds.
can understand parables – but no one is forced to. Your understanding
depends on your willingness to listen.
who will not hear thus bear their own burden – the literary device is so
simple that virtually anyone can understand; rejection or acceptance is
thus (obviously) with the hearer.
also a great example for teachers, with the added educational advantage
that your hearers pay better attention to parables.
lend themselves to self-examination; you can often see yourself in the
mirror this way.
reveal whom God has elected to bring to faith. The rich, the powerful,
the arrogant find the meanings hidden. This is what was prophesied; it’s
God’s plan from the beginning.
this lesson we shall see the parables Christ used and derive what may be
learned from them with regard to the world, the church, and the believer.
Mat 13:1-9 NASB
That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. (2) And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into
a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. (3) And He spoke many things to them in parables,
saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) and as he sowed,
some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. (5) "Others fell on the
rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang
up, because they had no depth of soil. (6) "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched;
and because they had no root, they withered away. (7) "Others fell among
the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. (8) "And others fell on
the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some
thirty. (9) "He
who has ears, let him hear."
Mat 13:18-23 NASB "Hear then the parable of the sower. (19) "When anyone hears
the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches
away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown
beside the road. (20) "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this
is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; (21) yet he has no firm root in himself, but
temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word,
immediately he falls away. (22) "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns,
this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the
deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (23) "And the one on
whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and
understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold,
some sixty, and some thirty."
thing which is plain to a Christian of this century is this: the path is very
wide. Many people are now like this. They hear – but pay no attention. It is
a measure of the Gospel that Christ tells us to shake dust and move on. It
sounds harsh, but we must remember that the hardness they have is a part of
their nature, not God’s. They don’t want to listen – even though it might be
their only chance at the truth. The hardness of heart makes it easy to remove
the Word and any impact it might have. Before they can hear, God would need to
plow up their lives.
the teacher, these are the most frustrating of people. Note that it’s said
they have “no root in themselves.” So at first they look like true converts –
thus setting the teacher’s expectations. But if you have no roots, you get no
moisture. Plants can survive like that; we call them tumbleweeds. People like
this go from church to philosophy to some other system of belief, each time
hoping that this will be the one that lasts. That’s the frustrating part;
they’re looking for long term relationship with God, but they’re not willing to
change to have it.
does this manifest itself? The shallow live only to get, not to give. It soon
becomes evident that giving is part of the Christian life; then it’s time to
is the most common case today. People are perfectly willing to go to church,
as long as it doesn’t get in the way. What drives people like that?
to start with. You don’t have to be rich to have worries. Christ tells
you to put your burdens on him – but even the poor often prefer to keep
these things to themselves. Pride says you can handle this yourself,
are another problem. Some people have money, for others, money has them.
It doesn’t seem to be a matter of being rich or poor – just a matter of
others, there is the system of pleasures of this world. Often enough,
it’s drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it’s sex; our youth now “hook up” first
and then see if there is interest in a long term relationship. If that’s
your priority, the word of God will seem unimportant indeed.
nature of the Church
parables tell us of the church we should see as well. For example:
Mat 13:24-30 NASB
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The
kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. (25) "But while
his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went
away. (26) "But
when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. (27) "The slaves
of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your
field? How then does it have tares?' (28) "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!'
The slaves *said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' (29) "But he
*said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat
with them. (30) 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the
time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares
and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my
Mat 13:36-43 NASB
Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him
and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." (37) And He said, "The
one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, (38) and the field is the world; and as for the good seed,
these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is
the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. (40) "So just as the tares are
gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. (41) "The Son of
Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all
stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, (42) and will throw them
into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. (43) "Then
THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He
who has ears, let him hear.
is a fact of life in the church: there will be false Christians in the
church. It is not generally good for us to go around identifying them; the time
would be much better spent in making sure we aren’t such. On specific
occasions we may bring church discipline to someone. If we judge someone in
the church, that is the process to follow. It is not given to us to judge and
then look down our noses. We are to correct; we need not condemn.
Because it is God’s will that even the hypocrites will come to understand him,
and be saved. I’ve known such; give room for repentance. But still, there
will be those who are the weeds in God’s garden. But grant God this: that he
may delay his justice for the sake of his mercy, so that more might be saved.
Mat 13:31-32 NASB
He presented another parable to them, saying, "The
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his
field; (32) and
this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the
garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN
is a myth amongst the professional clergy: if only we knew the right formula,
we could cause explosive growth in our church. The usual result of this was
expressed in one pastor’s words: “Our evangelism explosion just fizzled.”
Why? Sometimes we do see an explosion – but it’s usually related to the
circumstances rather than the method. We need to remember that God gives the
increase. The growth of the church is normally imperceptible, day by day.
isn’t that the way all complex organisms grow? The more complex the species,
the longer its growth time, in general. But see another advantage: growth
this way produces a stronger result. The church that grows like a mustard seed
soon becomes a haven.
have forgotten the concept, but the church used to be viewed as a sanctuary from
the world. It still is, or can be. It’s a place for those who don’t quite
know how to get along with the rest of the world. They come to the church, and
there they should find acceptance – with the rest of the sinners.
Mat 13:33 NASB
He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of
heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until
it was all leavened."
church is in the world, not of the world. That means we should not allow the
world to change the church. But there is no good reason the church shouldn’t
change the world. How so? By our witness. We should change the world – it’s
obvious the world is in need of it.
what about the individual Christian. One thing we know: the real thing
reproduces itself quite well. But what do these parables say about our faith?
parable of the Pirate
Mat 13:44 NASB "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the
field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and
buys that field.
we point out the obvious?
that the faith is indeed a treasure. If salvation, justification and the
joy of heaven are not treasure, then the word has no meaning.
we might point out: finding the treasure cost nothing. Obtaining the
treasure costs everything.
asks the question: what are you willing to give up for the cause of Christ?
of great price
Mat 13:45-46 NASB "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
seeking fine pearls, (46) and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold
all that he had and bought it.
is only one pearl of great price; faith, prayed and practiced. It comes to
those who are looking for it, but it is so precious that it demands a high
price. First, the price is the death of Christ on the Cross, so that you and I
might live. Next, it is the price of everything we have and are, past, present
and future. If we are not willing to pay the price, it will not be ours.
is a paradox. The man who pays the price finds himself rich indeed; the man
who wants to bargain it down to half price finds it is of no value. If faith
is to be that pearl, you must put all you are and all you have down as payment.
“Take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light.”