2018-06-06 / Religion

Parables of God’s just Kingdom

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Matthew 13

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ of Nazareth began immediately following his water baptism. He met — and overcame — his temptations. See Matthew 4:1- 11. Of this beginning, the disciple, Matthew, wrote, “From that time Jesus began to preach (proclaim), and to say, repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. This message was an extension of the ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew 3:2.

The major teaching of our Lord began with the portion of scripture known as “the Sermon on the Mount.” Matthew 5, 6, 7. This teaching has been called “the Constitution and Bylaws of the kingdom of Heaven.” The portion, known as the “Beatitudes” could be called the “preamble to the Constitution.”

The popularity of Jesus began to build. Multitudes followed him, listening to his gracious words, and seeing the miracles that he performed. Yet, the eternal focus on his ministry was the changing of the souls of sinful mankind.

Jesus used many methods of presenting the Gospel. One of these methods was the use of parables. The word, “parable,” is a compound Greek word. The first portion — “para” — means “along side of.” The second portion — “ballo” — means “to throw or lay.” Two ideas are “thrown or laid beside each other” so that a comparison can be made.

Matthew recorded a series of these parables that point in one direction — toward the kingdom of heaven. The disciple recorded the setting of this time of teaching. “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.” Matthew 13:1. This outdoor teaching session addressed a great multitude. The former tax-collector wrote, “And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.” Matthew 13:2.

The first in this recorded session of these parables — earthly stories with a heavenly meaning — was that of “The Sower.” The scene described would have been familiar to these hearers. Our Lord ended this parable with the declaration, “Who hath ears to hear, let him, hear.” Matthew 13:9. The “hearers” needed to have their minds activated in such a way as to be able to grasp the spiritual meaning of the simple scene. The master gave a detailed explanation of the symbolism of this parable. Matthew 13:18- 23.

Our Lord continued his agricultural theme in some of the other parables. “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which 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 blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.” Matthew 13:24b-26. This scene shows what happened to the Church. False doctrine was sown by the enemies of the true word of God.

Jesus continued His description of the scene. “So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this.” Matthew 13:27, 28a. The servants presented a plan for correcting the problem — “The servants said unto him, Wilt thou (do you wish) then that we go in and gather them [the tares] up?” Matthew 13:28b. The Land Owner was more interested in protecting the wheat — “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:29, 30.

The next word picture is that of the planted mustard tree. This seed is “sowed in his field.” Matthew 13:31d. The purpose of establishing a tree in a field is the decision of the Land Owner. Our Lord reminded the hearers that this seed “is the least of all seeds.” Matthew 13:32a. The size of the seed is no direct indication of the size of the plant. Jesus said, “but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” Matthew 13:32b, c. In other parables, the birds are seen as the “enemy of the soul.” There are false teachers and preachers who “lodge” in the local church, with the intention of harming the believers.

The next parable moved the thinking to the kitchen. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

Matthew 13:33. The “kingdom of heaven” might seem to be “hidden” in our world, today. However, there is a positive effect that the Gospel exerts throughout the world.

Matthew explained the purpose of this method of teaching. “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables: I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:34, 35; see Psalm 78:2.

After the multitude was sent away, “his disciples came unto him, saying, declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” Matthew 13:36. Our Lord identified the good seed — the children of the kingdom. The tares are “the children of the wicked one.” Matthew 13:38. Our caster left no doubt about the identity of the enemy — “the devil.” The reapers are described — “the angels.” Matthew 13:39. The wicked will be judged and punished. Matthew 13:42. The righteous will know eternal bliss in the presence of our Heavenly Father — the creator of the universe. Matthew 13:43.

Our eternal choice is made this side of the grave. If you do not know that your sins have been forgiven, please invite Jesus Christ into your heart of life, today. You can know inner peace, today, and have assurance of eternal life to come. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. co m

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