Matthew 13 gives us 8 parables of the kingdom. When His disciples asked Jesus why He taught in parables, Jesus told them: “Knowledge about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you. But it has not been given to the crowd.” Until the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, even the disciples had little spiritual perception, for they had not been born again by the Spirit (Jn 3:1-8). The secrets/mysteries of the kingdom of heaven were not readily apparent to the Jews because they only had Old Testament perspective by their flesh. We, who believe, have the huge and precious advantage of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to the kingdom and opens the gospel of the kingdom to our understanding, just as Jesus promised (1 Jn 2:27; Ro 8:9-11). Thus, we can understand the mysteries of the kingdom Jesus taught in the parables of the kingdom.
Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom on the Mount near the Lake of Galilee, near Capernaum. Now, from a boat in the Lake of Galilee He brings a message to the multitude and to His disciples.
The Parable of the Sower
That same day Jesus left the house and sat down by the Sea of Galilee. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat. He sat in the boat while the entire crowd stood on the shore. Then he used stories/parables as illustrations to tell them many things. He said,
Listen! A farmer went to plant seed. Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them. Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched. They withered because their roots weren’t deep enough. Other seeds were planted among thornbushes, and the thornbushes grew up and choked them. But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted. Let the person who has ears listen!
The disciples asked him, “Why do you use stories/parables as illustrations when you speak to people?”
Jesus answered, “Knowledge about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you. But it has not been given to the crowd. Those who understand these mysteries will be given more knowledge, and they will excel in understanding them. However, some people don’t understand these mysteries. Even what they understand will be taken away from them. This is why I speak to them this way. They see, but they’re blind. They hear, but they don’t listen. They don’t even try to understand. So they make Isaiah’s prophecy come true:”
“You will hear clearly but never understand. You will see clearly but never comprehend. These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see. Their ears never hear. Their minds never understand. And they never return to me for healing!”
“Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear. I can guarantee this truth: Many prophets and many of God’s people longed to see what you see but didn’t see it, to hear what you hear but didn’t hear it.”
“Listen to what the story about the farmer means. Someone hears the word about the kingdom but doesn’t understand it. The evil one comes at once and snatches away what was planted in him. This is what the seed planted along the road illustrates. The seed planted on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and accepts it at once with joy. Since he doesn’t have any root, he lasts only a little while. When suffering or persecution comes along because of the word, he immediately falls from faith. The seed planted among thornbushes is another person who hears the word. But the worries of life and the deceitful pleasures of riches choke the word so that it can’t produce anything. But the seed planted on good ground is the person who hears and understands the word. This type produces crops. They produce one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted.” Matthew 13:1-23
The seed planted was the gospel of the kingdom
The parable of Weeds and tares
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the wheat came up and formed kernels, then the weeds showed up too.”
The owner’s slaves came to him and asked him, “Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?”
“Do you want us to go and pull them out?” the slaves asked him.
“No,” He said, “if you pull out the weeds, you may pull up the wheat with them. Let both grow together till the harvest. When the grain is cut, I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first, and tie them in bundles to be burned, but bring the wheat into my barn. Matthew 13:24-30
Jesus differentiates between good seed and weed seed, between a man who sowed good seed and an enemy who sowed weed seed, between wheat and weeds that look like wheat. God sends his rain on the just and the unjust. He lets his people and those who are not his people live on the earth. At the harvest, the weeds will be burned and the wheat taken into His barn—the new Jerusalem (Rev 21).
The parable of Mustard Seed
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it’s the largest of the garden plants: it becomes a tree big enough for the birds to come and nest in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32
Jesus uses the illustration of a mustard seed to tell us the kingdom of God would start small but when it is grown it will be big. The kingdom of God started small with only Jesus on earth. From the day of Pentecost it grew rapidly. Within 250 years the Church in the kingdom grew to around 20 million believers. There are over 1 billion citizens of the kingdom living on earth today. How did this happen? How does a seed grow?
The parable of Yeast, the Leaven
The kingdom of heaven is like yeast a woman took and mixed into a bushel of flour till it was all fermented. Matthew 13:33
The kingdom of God is in the Spirit (Ro 14:17). Just as yeast cannot be seen in flower dough we cannot see the kingdom with our natural eyes. Yet as the yeast permeates and raises the dough the kingdom permeates the entire world.
Jesus used parables to tell the crowds all these things. He wouldn’t tell them anything without a parable, so that what the prophet said would come true:
I will open My mouth to speak in parables, I will tell what has been hidden since the world was made. Matthew 13:34-35
Jesus explains the parable of the sower.
When Jesus had dismissed the people and gone into the house, His disciples came to Him and said, “Tell us what the parable of the weeds in the field means.”
“The sower who sows the good seed,” He answered, “is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seed are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The reapers are the angels. As the weeds are gathered and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will take out of His kingdom those who do wrong and all who lead others to do wrong, and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and grind their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. If you have ears, listen!”
The field is the world. Both the sons of the kingdom and the sons of the devil are allowed to grow together in the world until harvest. Then, the sons of the devil will be removed and the sons of the kingdom left behind—to shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Matthew 13:36-43
The sons of the devil are removed from the world. Those left behind are the righteous, not the wicked and unsaved as dispensationalists teach. Furthermore, this is picture of the judgment day, the Day of the Lord, not some interim step such as their rapture doctrine states. In the end, the righteous will live on the regenerated earth, not high in the sky in the great bye and bye forever and ever (Rev 21:22).
The deception of the dispensational doctrine is astounding. This doctrine denies Jesus is ruling as King in the Spirit right now. Yet, Charismatics and Pentecostals function in the gifts of the Spirit even though they believe in the dispensational rapture. Go figure.
The parable of Treasure Hidden in the Field
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field. When a man found it, he buried it again and was so delighted with it he went and sold everything he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44
Discovering the kingdom Jesus our King rules by the Spirit is treasure. The kingdom to come will be even richer, for God will dwell with us in the new heaven and new earth. Both are worth everything we have.
The parable of the Pearl of Great Price
A dealer was looking for fine pearls. When he found a very expensive pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
The kingdom is worth selling out for.
The parable of the Fishing Net
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake, and it gathered all kinds of fish. When it was full they pulled it on the shore, sat down, and picked out the good fish and put them in containers but threw the bad ones away. So it will be at the end of the world. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and grind their teeth. Matthew 13:47-50
The gospel of the kingdom isn’t good news for the wicked. Jesus didn’t minimize the final judgment or the agony of everlasting total separation from God. God will have His angels separate the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the fire.
When He told seven of the parables, Jesus asked His disciples,
Do you understand all this?
“Yes,” they answered. ”. Matthew 13:51
The parable of the Householder
“And so every Bible student trained for the kingdom of heaven,” He told them, “is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new things and old.” Matthew 13:52.
Thus, we can store up treasure from both the Old and the New Testament. Like a householder, we can go get it, bring it out and put it to good use.