-The seed is the Word of God in this fundamental parable for our spiritual understanding (Mark 4:13). Those people who reject it immediately, having the Word taken away by the deception of the devil, do not ever believe in their heart and are never saved. The people who are rocky do receive the Word with joy but have no firm root (or foundation, Matthew 7:24-25). They have some faith for a while, but when temptation comes they fall away (Hebrews 6:1-6). These are the apostates (Matthew 13:21, Mark 4:17, Hebrews 3:12) and are never destined for Heaven in relationship with the Living God. The ones who get choked out by the cares, worries, and desires of this world may have relationship and could be going to Heaven (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), but they have become unfruitful and are in danger of being taken out of this world for an unproductive Christian existence (1 Corinthians 11:28-30, 1 John 5:16). The good soil are those who understand the Word of God with an honest and good heart, hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15). *Application* Let us all be good soil and understand the mystery of the Kingdom of God. This message reveals the four different kinds of reactions we will get when we present the Word of God to people. Pray that the message will find good soil and grow abundantly! He who has ears, let him hear!
-Jesus gives this parable and explains it to His disciples explaining the nature of good and bad coexisting together in this world until the end judgment. The Son of Man (God, the Messiah, Jesus) is the sower of the good seed and these are those of the Kingdom of God whose righteousness will shine like the noon day sun (Daniel 12:3). The enemy sows the tares (the weeds), which represent the sons of the evil one (the unregenerate, the lost, the unsaved). These are the stumbling blocks and rule breakers who have not repented and come in humility to the Savior, Jesus Christ, for forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Father. The reality of hell is prevalent here in Jesus’ teachings because He is warning His listeners about the wrath to come if they do not come to Him. *Application* Warning signs all around us are there to help us avoid the danger that could otherwise overtake us and hurt us in a variety of ways. Pay attention to the warning signs God gives us for direction and protection from all that is evil and seeking to destroy us. Remember that evil will coexist with us until the time of the end when the final harvest is made. Endure and grow in Christ as good and pure wheat, undiluted by the weeds that surround you. This only happens by seeking God and living by His Spirit and clinging to Godly friends and acquaintances who do have an impact and influence.
-Small beginnings have great implications, endings, and benefits in the Kingdom of God. This was Jesus’ point in this parable of the tiny mustard seed that grows into a fruit bearing home for the birds. *Application* Jesus reassures us that it takes time to become mature in the Kingdom economy, but it is worth it. Do not despise small beginnings. God is in these little things and desires to grow us into His fullness and greatness. One day we will realize how awesome our seed has grown in the Kingdom and know the truth of Christ’s words in this passage.
-Likewise to the mustard seed turning to a large and productive tree, Jesus shares that the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast (leaven), which expands and becomes bigger and bigger with age and the baking process (Matthew 13:33). *Application* In contradiction to the general expectation, Christ’s Kingdom began quietly and very unexpectedly. Most of God’s chosen people were looking for a mighty political ruler that would overtake the world with force and extreme external power. Jesus initiated the Kingdom with His first coming as a sacrificial Servant that saved the world from its demise and sin. This can easily be overlooked, but it shouldn’t. God’s ways are higher than our ways and His plan far exceeds anything our finite minds could conceive (Isaiah 55:8-9). Enjoy the fact that His Kingdom is ever expanding and will one day be the only power left in this world. In the end love wins!
-Jesus taught in the prophesied manner of parables “things hidden from the foundation of the world (Psalm 78:2, Matthew 13:35).” Jesus was all about taking things that were known and using them to explain the other world of God’s Kingdom through this method. A parable is simply an earthly story with a Heavenly meaning in the context of Jesus’ teaching. He was opening up mysteries and hidden knowledge to those He spoke to and conversed with. The disciples, thankfully, recorded them for our benefit as well. *Application* These timeless truths reach our generation just as impactful as in the time of Jesus if we care to do some cultural and historical research to grasp the entire meaning of each one. Seek the Lord’s wisdom out and understand His messages to you, His beloved.
-Jesus, in this next parable, relates the Kingdom of Heaven to a hidden treasure in a field, which a man found and hid again. Because of his joy over finding it he goes and sells all that he has and buys (purchases, takes hold of) that entire field. This parable relates the value of knowing Christ and His righteousness and the unsurpassing riches that He entails. The man found it almost without even looking by accident, but is very protective of it, rehiding it once he did find it. He finds it a joy to give up all his possessions to obtain that field that houses the treasure (Mark 10:21, Luke 5:11, 27-28; 18:22, Acts 4:34). *Application* What is the cost of discipleship and what are you willing to give up for Christ and His Kingdom? Assured whatever you dispose of for His sake will be rewarded back unto to you. This is a promise of God (Matthew 6:33, Mark 10:28-30). The issue for us is if we will trust Him. So then we can say that faith is the field and the reward, the treasure, lies hidden in that field of trust and dependence on the Lord. What joy we have when we realize His riches and hope that were once hidden from us. Open up His possibilities by surrendering all you have. Living in His resurrected power is the greatest gain!
-In this parable, Jesus relates the Kingdom of Heaven to a merchant who is seeking fine pearls. This pearl (the truth of the Kingdom in Christ Jesus) of great value is worth everything he owns and is. He gladly gives it all up for this precious commodity knowing its great worth in comparison. He makes the purchase without regret and takes ownership (connectedness) of a new thing. *Application* This relationship we can have with Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of our soul) is worth more than anything we own or could give up. In reality this is a free gift of faith and is available to all (John 3:16, Romans 3:24; 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Peter 3:9). Our hope is in the Pearl of Great Price (Jesus crucified from the foundation of the world for our redemption, Hebrews 4:3, Matthew 25:34)
-Similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds), Jesus speaks to the fact that there will be gathered fish (people, souls) of every kind by the dragnet (gathering device) of God in comparing what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It will be the Lord who separates out the good from the bad. The angels (messengers) will take out the wicked from among the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (extreme torment) (Matthew 13:49-50). Jesus, as a good teacher does, asks the question, “Have you understood all these things?” referring back to all the parables He just spoke. The people said, “Yes,” as they had their chance to ask questions and dig deeper (Matthew 13:51). *Application* Understanding is essential in the economy of the Kingdom of God. It is nice that the Lord wants us to have this wisdom and cares enough to reveal it to us if we simply seek and look for it and meditate on His truths with application. Think about how the Lord actually wants you to get it. He longs for us wanting and desiring intimate relationship and fellowship. He wants us to enjoy the riches of His Kingdom for eternity and has no pleasure in the demise of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11). This is why, as a good Father, He warns us plainly using speech we can understand and process.
-At the end of His lesson, Jesus makes a comment about every scribe who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven being like a head of a household who brings out of his treasure things new and old (Matthew 13:52). This intriguing statement connects the Old Covenant (or Testament) with the New Covenant (or Testament). He is saying here that He was what the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament were all about in pointing to Him, the Messiah. *Application* Both the Old and New Testaments give vital truth for understanding and practical guidelines for faith and practice in this world. Don’t ever neglect the vast riches that are in the Old Testament. Be diligent to learn God’s whole counsel and do not let it depart from you.
-The religious people in Jesus’ time had the tendency to get trapped in the old and refused to accept the new thing God was revealing in His Son. They were looking for a future kingdom preceded by judgment in the physical and temporal realm via military conquest. They were blind to the spiritual significance of the new way that Christ brought through a Kingdom that was now with a future judgment after everyone had been given every opportunity to turn back to God and repent (change their mind). *Application* Life is being worked in us even through these earthen vessels that we live in now (2 Corinthians 4:6-14). Realize what is going on. Live in Christ with His power. The Kingdom continues to grow in you, the believer.
-As Jesus was going around to the Galilean villages teaching the Kingdom, He came to His hometown of Nazareth, which is west of the Sea of Galilee. The people there knew Him only as a carpenter (a common laborer) and they became offended that people were following Him as a Rabbi. He was teaching in the synagogue, which may correlate to the passage in Luke 4:16-31, where He rebuked the Nazarene populace and was almost cast off a cliff of the mountain. Matthew and Mark, if this is the same visit back to His hometown, focus more on the skepticism and unbelief Jesus encountered. It is interesting to note that their lack of faith reduced greatly His working of miracles in their midst. This led the Lord to wonder at their unbelief and make the comment about how a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household. *Application* How do people receive you, especially when they’ve known you in the past as you grew up. Sometimes people’s opinions greatly reduce your ability to effectively work and minister. We have to be cognizant of the limitations in certain places based on false perceptions from the past. Thankfully, God has cleared us of our past through His forgiveness and restoration and is primarily concerned with our present and future in His wonder working power. So walk in His victory and don’t worry about the naysayers. You may even want to avoid them if possible under the Lord’s guidance and direction. A prophet or prophetess is still not usually honored in his/her hometown. Also, unbelief will always restrict the movement of God in a place. If you find yourself wondering why God is not a work in a place, check the faith meter and you will probably find skepticism and doubting present. Where pride and unbelief reside the power of God is severely reduced. Take notice American church.
Verses to Memorize: Matthew 13:31-32, 34, 41-42, 44, 46, 51