Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Matthew 13 Part 1

Up until this chapter Jesus had preached in the synagogues, which became more and more difficult.  The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees watched with critical eyes just waiting to accuse Him and tear apart His message.  Now He begins to teach outside the synagogues in homes, on the seashore, in the desert, on the roads, and anywhere people gathered to hear Him.  Many people gathered around Him, but most were confused and indifferent to His message.  They heard with their ears, but chose not to respond with their hearts.

He began to speak to them in parables.  A parable is a story that illustrates lessons and truths or as I have heard people say, "An earthy story with a heavenly meaning."

Matthew 13:1-23, Luke 8:4-15 - The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:3-8 - "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." 

The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables.  Jesus responded by saying that the secret of the kingdom of heaven has been given to the disciples, but not to the people.  He said, "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." - Matt. 13:11-12.   In other words the more we seek and desire Him, the more our understanding will increase; those who are willing ignorant to hear the Word, it will be harder for them to understand.  Then He quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 in Matt. 13:14-15.

The farmer or the sower is the believer, follower, or disciple of Jesus.  The seed is the Word of God.  The soil is a person's soul or heart.  Jesus explains the parable in Matt. 13:18-23; Luke 8:11-15 .  There are 4 different places or soils the seeds are sown:  1.  Along the path without much soil - someone who hears the message, but does not understand it because he has a closed mind.  2.  Rocky places - one who hears and receives joy, but that joy lasts only for a short time.  3.  Thorns - those who hear, but the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth make them unfruitful.  4.  Good soil - those who hear the word, understand it, accept its authority, and produce good crops or fruits.

The reasons the good soil produces crops are in these scriptures:
John 14:15 - those who obey God's commands will yield good crops.
John 15:5 - those who remain in God bear much fruit
Acts 5:29 - those who obey God rather than men
Phil. 2:12-13 - those who continue to work and act according to God's purposes.

Through the Holy Spirit we Christians sow the same seed when we preach, teach, or speak about the truths of the Bible.  God calls us to sow His seeds and to trust Him to give life where He will.  Each time you read the Bible or hear it spoken, the seed falls on the soil of your heart.

What kind of soil is your heart?.
What change will you ask God to make in the soil of your heart?

Jesus says the evil one, Satan snatches away the message of the kingdom. Satan snatches the message away today in many ways.  People hear God's Word and don't understand it.  They do not try to understand it by reading and studying the Bible.  They are not regular church goers - they go when it's convenient.  Satan makes them busy with life like soccer or golf games on Sunday mornings, their jobs, etc.  It's all about them, when it should be all about Jesus.  They simple do not seek or desire Him.

Jesus described the disciples'  privilege.  They are blessed that they can hear and see the truth.  Their hearts were open and they were seeking Him and trying to understand.

How are you actively seeking Him?
Do you take time for Bible study and prayer daily?

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 - The Parable of the Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30 - "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.'"

In Matt. 13:36-43 Jesus explained the parable.  The two sowers are Jesus and Satan.  The good seed is Jesus.  The field is the world.  The weeds are the unbelievers (those who have never received eternal life from God).  The wheat is the believer.  The enemy is the devil or Satan.  The harvesters are the angels.  The harvest is the end of the age when Jesus returns for judgment.  "While everyone was sleeping" means that while we are least expecting Satan, he slips in.  We need to be alert at all times.

Satan plant weeds (unbelievers) in churches among the Christians (wheat) and sometime it's hard to tell which ones are true Christians.  Only when Jesus returns and the harvest (judgment) begins will we be able to tell the weeds from the wheat.  That doesn't mean we should stop planting and sharing God's message.

At the end of the age the weeds will be burned up.  "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." - Matt. 13:41-43.

There will be judgment when Jesus returns and judgment is forever.  God will punish.  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness." - Rom. 1:18.  "For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.  He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." - Acts 17:31.  "God is just.  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubles.." - 2 Thess. 1:6-7.  This world is not all there is. 

Which are you, weed or wheat?
Do you know where you will be going, heaven or hell?
Do you resist God's Word?   When you do, you resist Him.  When you receive God's Word, you receive Him.
Have you come to Christ in faith and repentance?

Make sure you are not a counterfeit Christian.  Ask God to show you the condition of our heart.

Principles:
Your response to God's Word has consequences now and forever.
People are responsible to hear and receive God's Word.
Counterfeit Christians will be recognized and removed from Christ's church.
Jesus said those who hear His Word are blessed.

See you in January 2014 for Matthew 13 part 2.

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