We're getting to the point in Matthew where we're seeing more people reject Jesus. For July, we're going to look into some of the parables Jesus told as well as seeing more of Jesus' identity.
Mysteries of the Messianic Kingdom Revealed in Parables
Before we jump into explaining the parables we see in Matthew 13, it is important to ask what is a parable and what is their purpose? A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. We see these used by Jesus throughout the Bible, but what's the point of them? They weren't told solely to make difficult spiritual things more understanding to everyone. While they were used to help the spiritually sensitive better understand difficult concepts, the deeper meaning of the parables weren't meant to be understood by those with hardened hearts. To the hardened, these parables were simple stories without the deeper meaning.
In Matthew 13:14-15, we see the prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled [see Isaiah 6:9-10]:
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." 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.'"
Now that I've explained parables a bit, I'm going to jump back up to the beginning of chapter 13, the Parable of the Sower.
And he [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 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, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear." - Matthew 13:1-9
To the unbelievers with hardened hearts, this was simply a story of a sower and his soils; however, to those believing in God, it has a deeper meaning. In this parable, there are four different scenarios:
(1) seeds falling along the path; eaten by birds
(2) seeds falling on rocky ground; scorched in the sun
(3) seeds falling in thorns; choked by thorns
(4) seeds falling on good soil; produced grain
In the first three scenarios, the seeds didn't produce grain like they were supposed to. These seeds are like people in the world who hear God's Word, but they get distracted by worldly noise or never allow the Word to take root in their hearts. This sadly happens all the time! Satan is really good at deceiving and pulling people away from God. These people, like the seeds, end up not producing any fruit. In the last scenario, the seeds are in good soil and produce grain. This demonstrates the people who hear the Word and hold firm to it/do something with it. These people have fruitful lives and don't let the noise of the world get to them.
Be honest with yourself, have you ended up along the path, on rocky ground, or among the thorns in life? Is Satan and the world pulling you away from God, distracting you from His Word?
The next parable I'm going to discuss is the Parable of the Mustard Seed:
He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." -Matthew 13:31-32
I'm no farmer, so I honestly had no idea how small a mustard seed was and what a mustard tree looked like. You can see in the image above that the tiny seed was able to produce a huge tree. The application of this parable to a believer's life is, a humble beginning (like the smallest seed) might seem insignificant, but can have a significant outcome (or harvest).
The Parable of the Leaven says:
He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."
Leaven is a substance, typically yeast, that is used in dough to make it rise. I've only made a yeast dough from scratch one time, but I was amazed at how much it rose with just a little amount of yeast. This parable describes the heart change that isn't really visible to others, that brings outward growth or change. When you add yeast to flour, it doesn't immediately rise; however, after you let it sit for a while, it significantly grows.
I'm going to combine the final two parables that I'll be discussing – the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl of Great Value:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." - Matthew 13:44-46
Both of these are similar, in that when we hear about the Kingdom, it should bring action. Are you willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING for this amazing and perfect treasure? Is there something you're still holding onto that's preventing you from completely following Jesus?
I initially had planned to look at more than just chapter 13, but then I realized how much I've already written, so I'll save the other chapters I planned on covering until August. Chapter 13 ends with Jesus being rejected in Nazareth, his hometown. Why did the people reject him? They knew Jesus' roots. They couldn't believe that Jesus could be anything special coming out of Nazareth.
Next month we'll actually look deeper at Jesus' identity becoming more known. Until then, I encourage you to look over all the parables since we didn't discuss all of them. Take some time to reflect on them and see if any stand out to you. I hope you all have a great month!
Cornerstone Impact Update
Right now, there is more demand for houses than supply. How does Eventide invest in companies that make homeownership more accessible? Check out this short video from Eventide’s Research Analyst, Faina Rozental:
After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there were many companies stating they would pay for employees to travel out of state if the state they work in doesn’t allow abortions. There are three mandates for BRI: avoid, embrace, engage. When it comes to the companies with the abortion travel, there are a few things you can do with your investment portfolios to make an impact. Inspire’s CEO wrote an article discussing what pro-life investors can do:
It can be hard to navigate the situations arising since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As Christians, it can be hard to figure out how to take a stance and how to respond when others verbally attack. Last week, I wrote a blog discussing some of the facts of the Supreme Court decision and how us Christians should be responding:
These Cornerstone Impact blogs were started to share different ways our BRI partners are making an impact with investing and how our investments can make an impact. While they continue to share those things, we’ve also been wanting to add reminders of the impact we can have outside of our investments. With the topic of abortion, Christians have a chance to make an impact by showing compassion, not responding the anger with more anger, and graciously sharing facts. This last Sunday, the lead minister at my church discussed this topic, and I think it’s a really good reminder and heart check for Christians.
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