Mt. 7:21 π Mt. 13:3-9 π Mt. 13:18-23 π Mt. 13:19 π Mt. 13:20-21 π Mt. 13:22 π Mt. 13:24-30 π Mt. 13:28 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 13:36-43 π Mt. 13:37-38 π Mt. 13:38-39 π Mt. 13:39 π Mt. 13:40-42 π Mt. 13:43 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 25:14-30 π Mt. 25:24 π Mt. 25:26-30 π Mk. 4:13 π Lk. 14:27 π Jn. 10:10 π Jas. 1:21 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 1 Pet. 5:8
There are three parables which Jesus taught which deserve our undivided attention. And once we have gleaned what He is saying, we will do well to obey what He has said. Here are the parables:
Then He told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.
"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." ( Mt. 13:3-9 , 18-23; top )
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
"'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
Then He left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. ( Mt. 13:24-30 , 36-43; top )
"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
"The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" ( Mt. 25:14-30; top )
These parables have been read so many times, and in some cases so distorted by some theologian's extravagant exegetical exertions that the plain meaning is simply lost. Let's review some of the basic facts of these parables.
The first of these parables, because it represents the key to all the other parables ( Mk. 4:13; top ), is crucial. The seed represents the message of the kingdom of God that is sown in the hearts of men. And what is that message? In a nutshell, the message is there is a King. Not an elected president or governor but an absolute Monarch. And this King is gathering His people out of the world, not leaving them in it or, perhaps better stated, not leaving them to live like they are still a part of the world even while they physically remain in the world. The message of the kingdom is that there is a King who is to be obeyed and your rebellion against Him constitutes a capitol offense.
In this parable, there are four types of hearers but only two types of results. The first three - "the seed sown along the path," "the seed that fell on rocky places," and "the seed that fell among the thorns" - all die. Only the fourth type brings forth life, an abundant crop, " a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
The first type are those where the seed is sown along the path. Jesus said of this person, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart." ( Mt. 13:19; top ) The Greek word for understanding here contains the idea of putting two things together. When we hear what the message of the kingdom is, that Christ has been given all authority in heaven and in earth and that He is building His body according to His good pleasure, but we don't understand that that message requires faith and obedience on our part, we have let Satan steal away what was sown in our hearts. (see also Jas. 1:21; top ) These people never produce fruit for the kingdom of God and in the end they only die.
The second type are those where the seed fell on rocky places. Jesus said of this person that he "is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." ( Mt. 13:20-21; top ) These are those who hear the message of the kingdom, that is, that Christ has been given all authority in heaven and in earth and that He is building His body according to His good pleasure, but when they see how much effort and cost is involved in following after Christ, they fall away. Many of this type can be found in dead and dying "churches" but they have no root, that is, they have not let the word of Christ dwell in them richly. They are not rooted and grounded in the word and what knowledge they have of the Bible is intellectually superficial, lacking in spiritual depth. When trouble comes that tests their character, they have no stomach for the fight and they abandon Christ to return to whatever comfort zone they are accustomed to. These too will never produce fruit for the kingdom and in the end they will only die.
The third type are those where the seed fell among the thorns. Jesus said that this one "is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." ( Mt. 13:22; top ) These are those who refuse to cast all their cares upon God or who see all the pretty baubles of this world and pursue after these things rather than pursue after the living God. They are the type who are distracted by just about anything. These too produce no fruit for the kingdom of God and, in the end, they too die.
It is only the fourth type, those where the seed fell on good soil, that produce fruit for the kingdom of God and live. It is to be noted that though there are different levels of fruit produced, each one produces fruit - or they are not of this type. And it is to be noted that this last person is the one who hears and obeys the message of the kingdom - that Christ has been given all authority in heaven and in earth and that He is building His body according to His good pleasure, and understands that he is required to respond in faith and obedience to the command of the Head of the body - that produces fruit and which lives. Jesus gave this parable and He only included these four categories. There are no other categories and we must take inventory of our life to see in which of the four we fall. If we do not match the description of the fourth category, we must accept the truth that we belong in one of the first three - though, of course, one need only truly repent, receive the message of the kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit and actively pursue the living and true God to be a member of the fourth category.
In the second parable that we are examining, Jesus again takes up the picture of a farmer. This time He says, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom." ( Mt. 13:37-38; top ) Here again we see the picture of good seed producing a crop, in this case wheat. But as Jesus expands the view of the kingdom, He not only gives this parable but He gives a rather detailed explanation of what He's talking about. The good seed that produces fruit for the kingdom, He said, are the sons of the kingdom.
He goes on to say, "The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil." ( Mt. 13:38-39; top ) Wait a minute there, Jesus! That's pretty harsh isn't it? Sons of the devil? Sown amongst the sons of the kingdom? That's what He said - and I suspect that's exactly what He meant. So now that we know what He meant, all we have to do is take care that we be sons of the kingdom and not sons of the devil. But we must also recognize that there will be those men who pose even as great leaders in the body of Christ who are nothing but sons of the devil. Thus it is of paramount importance in our own lives that we hear from the Holy Spirit and that we are led by Him into all truth. John wrote, "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him." ( 1 Jn. 2:27; top ) Though someone may come and teach you falsely, if you will listen to the Holy Spirit, you will not be deceived. Let he who has ears hear.
When Jesus first tells the parable and He is setting up the story, He says something that ought to draw us up short. When the owner's servants first discover the tares among the wheat, the owner tells them, "An enemy did this." ( Mt. 13:28; top ) Not a friend, not an acquaintance, not a rival nor a competitor - an enemy, one who is fundamentally opposed to the point of using lethal force to thwart the objectives of the King and the kingdom of God. There is an enemy who prowls about like a lion seeking whom he may devour. ( 1 Pet. 5:8 ) The enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy. ( Jn. 10:10; top ) He is not here to bless us, to bring peace or prosperity to us (unless that is what will kill our spiritual life in Christ) or to do anything good to us. That God is more powerful than he is and that God will turn everything the devil means for harm into ultimate good does not mean that we should take the ostrich approach and stick our head in the sand while the enemy does what he wants to. No, we are to be vigilant precisely because an enemy is in close proximity to our position and because he has unleashed his army of agents and spies into our very midst. "Take care that no one deceives you," Jesus said. ( Mt. 24:4; top ) And I suspect He meant what He said.
In this parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus goes on to say, "The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels." ( Mt. 13:39; top ) This statement alone does great damage to the notion that the church is going to bring in a huge harvest of lost souls just before Christ's return - a popular notion throughout many denominations but which has no Scriptural basis. The angels do the harvesting, not the church. And secondly, it's a harvest. Why would you harvest seeds that have just been planted? I recognize that we in technologically advanced North America are getting further and further from our agricultural roots, but let's think about this! A harvest is of mature crops not seedlings and stalks. The overall thrust of the harvest will be for mature believers who are prepared to be with Christ. Let us not be deceived into thinking otherwise.
Jesus goes on and says, "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." ( Mt. 13:40-42; top ) We so much see the fiery judgment of this statement that we often miss the cause. In the kingdom are things that cause sin and people who do evil! Not in the world, in the kingdom! Inside the church, a subset of the kingdom of God, there are things that cause sin and people who do evil. That's not my interpretation. That's the plain meaning of what Jesus said. We would do well to search the Scriptures and compare them with the history books to find the many things that have been added to the church throughout church history that have no basis in Scripture. Chief among these would be the clergy (the priests, popes and "pastors" who lord it over the flock), the church building (in which God could never live), the pulpit (which symbolizes a man standing between the people and God) and pews (which symbolize the inability of anyone other than the man behind the pulpit being able to hear God). All of these - and there are more - are additions to God's New Testament pattern for His ekklesia, His body, His church.
But let us not get so caught up in seeing the things that cause evil that we forget what the consequences are. Those who are attached to these things and who use these tools of deception to bring about sin and evil in the kingdom are thrown into the fiery furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is a reference to eternal judgment. Let us be clear on the stakes involved. If we would continue to play "church" after we have come to see how it is the tool of the enemy of Christ, we have no excuse and we can only look forward to fiery judgment. Let us not kid ourselves by believing that Jesus was not serious about what He said.
There are those who are disturbed when someone begins to preach about these many, long- standing, time-honored errors of the church. They deem it inappropriate for anyone to say that so many people over so many centuries have been deceived. They don't understand how God could possibly be restoring to His people the revelations about the ekklesia that show the institutional church to be the worst enemy of the real body of Christ. "It's the same Bible," they say. "How can you be getting this 'new' revelation now after so many centuries and scholars have studied it and never reached any conclusions like yours?" I believe the answer lies in this parable. Jesus has instructed the angels to leave the tares among the wheat, to "Let both grow together until the harvest." ( Mt. 13:30; top ) If the bulk of the historical church had had the revelation that its very institution was the best weapon of the enemy, do you suppose that it would have continued to "let both grow together until the harvest"? No, those who understood the revelation would have prematurely done the work the angels are to do at the end of the age. They would have exposed the tares and destroyed much of the wheat in the process. No, the historical church has done its service in preserving what light it had been given. Now it is our opportunity to rid ourselves of its disservice of having been the hiding place of many of the devil's schemes as Christ is preparing to unleash His angels to remove from His kingdom everything that causes sin and all those who do evil.
There is one more interesting contrast between the wheat and the tares which should be examined. And it is truly the only outwardly visible difference between the two plants. This difference truly becomes most apparent when the plants are fully matured. The wheat, as the head becomes heavy with maturity, will bow over whereas the tares, because the head does not become heavy, stands erect. What a picture of the true nature of the wheat, submissive humility before the Father of our spirits, and of the tares, self-reliant arrogance proudly displaying a deceptive fruit.
"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father," ( Mt. 13:43; top ) Jesus concludes the parable. After all the things that cause sin and all those who do evil are removed from the kingdom, the righteous, those sons of the kingdom, those seeds which are producing fruit, will shine like the sun. All else will be gone from His kingdom. Let he who has ears hear. And even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
The third parable is also about the end times. In this parable Jesus is portrayed as the master who entrusts various amounts of investment capital to his servants. He says there are three types of people who will be thus entrusted. And again, there are only three. We need not look for any more types. If we find that we do not fit into the first two categories, we must accept the truth that we fit in the third.
The first two categories involve servants who are given different amounts of investment capital. Each returns to his master with a 100% return on the master's investment so that the master now has twice as much money as what he left with his servants. These servants are welcomed eagerly into the master's joy. This is where we find the phrase "Well done, good and faithful servant" which is so often bandied about in Christian circles.
The third category however, is of a servant who is afraid to risk losing what he has been given so he hides it in the ground and returns it to his master upon his master's return. We must note carefully the fate of this third servant. He is stripped of all the investment capital and he is thrown out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth - the same place where Jesus said would be all those who cause sin and do evil in the previous parable. This is a reference to eternal judgment. Let us not kid ourselves into thinking that we can ignore what Jesus is saying and still receive some welcome into the kingdom. Jesus also said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." ( Mt. 7:21; top ) And what is the will of the Father? That we would each, as individuals that fit into a corporate body, become all that He foreknew and designed us to become.
Let us also look more carefully at the description given of the master, who is representative of Jesus. The wicked servant says, "'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed." ( Mt. 25:24; top ) Jesus does not dispute the description. In fact, He confirms it as the master then says, "'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" ( Mt. 25:26-30; top ) But wait a minute, Jesus. I thought You were meek and mild, harmless as a little child.
No, Jesus is a hard master. He demands that we use everything that He has given us to present Him with a full return on His investment. If we will not even do the least possible thing with the great grace He has given us, then we can only expect to be treated as was the third servant. The real Jesus still says, "Unless you take up your cross and follow after Me, you cannot be My disciple." ( Lk. 14:27; top )
In these three parables we see a very different picture of Jesus than the one presented in many a church where the "pastor" is unwilling to offend those who fill his pockets with mammon. We see a Jesus who isn't afraid to categorize the people who become associated with His Word and say that three categories out of four won't make it. We see a Jesus who isn't afraid to identify the religious frauds as "sons of the evil one" who oppose the "sons of the kingdom." We see a Jesus who isn't ashamed of the fact that He is a hard master who demands productivity from all those He would redeem as His own and who will cast out the fearful who will take no risks for His sake. Oh, yes, Jesus does forgive and He does extend undeserved mercy and He does reach out to lost sinners and even wayward believers. But His forgiveness, mercy and love are not meant to confirm the sinner in his sin but rather to confront him with his need to repent and live differently.
Father, we come before you in humility and brokeness. We lay aside our own preconceptions and misconceptions as to who this Jesus really is, who You really are. We present ourselves to Your Spirit so that we might be drawn into all truth and released from all man-made and demonic lies which are so prevalent in Your kingdom today. We pray that when the angels do come to remove the wickedness from the kingdom that they won't be coming to remove us. We pray that the investment You have made in us will be multiplied in our lifetime so that You receive a full return on Your investment. We ask that You cause us to walk in Your grace that we may produce a fruitful harvest of peace, joy and righteousness by Your Spirit in our world. We ask these things so that You and You alone may be glorified in all that we say and do and have. Amen.
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