1 – Matthew 13:3-9 (ESV) 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
RAF: This is the 1st of 7 parables concerning the mysteries of the Kingdom. This one is about the mystery of PROPAGATION – How the Kingdom expands. “The sower sows the Word” (Mark 4:14) This is God’s means and method, all other schemes, programs, arrangements and allurements are human inventions without the promise of blessing. It is not about one nation rising and conquering – it is about the Word of God bringing forth its fruit. Preach the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.
2 – Matthew 13:24-29 (ESV) 24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
RAF: Kingdom parable #2 reveals the mystery of MIXTURE & INIQUITY. Despite all of our efforts, there will be a mixed multitude among us. Simon Maguses will enter. We will not be able to purge them all out – nor should that be our focus. Discipline yes. Witch hunting no. Just as we will not be able to Christianize the entire world, so this mixture will be reflected in the Church. Do not be dismayed. He has told us it will be so.
3 – Matthew 13:31-32 (ESV) 31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
RAF: Kingdom parable #3 holds the mystery of TRANSITION. The Kingdom will have but the smallest of beginnings in the earth. But one day it will reach its full bloom. It will weather its storms, survive its droughts, not be withered by blistering sun, nor be uprooted by violent winds. Christ’s Kingdom will reach maturity. Do not despise the day of small things.
4 – Matthew 13:33 (ESV) 33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
RAF: Kingdom mystery #4 – the mystery of TRANSFORMATION. The Believer is gradually transformed into the image of Christ, it is not an instantaneous act. And this, through permeation. The Spirit inwardly makes His way into the deepest recesses of the heart and mind – bringing his Holy influences to every particle of our being. God does not fear time. He utilizes it to His highest glory and our best good. He that began the good work in us, WILL complete it until the day of Christ. He is patient with us, and we ought to be with one another.
5 – Matthew 13:44 (ESV) 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
RAF: Kingdom parable #5 – the mystery of REVELATION. Spurgeon says this speaks of Christ, His dying to purchase the whole world that He might have the treasure of those given to Him by the Father found in it. But it appears to be directed more to the Believer. When once our eyes see and comprehend the glories of Christ – that which is hidden to the ordinary view of men, we cannot simply ignore it. From the outside, men cannot comprehend why we would sell all to have some mere field. But we have seen the treasure. We have glimpsed its infinite worth. He who is but a man to most, is the Son of God to us. The One who is but the Carpenter’s son, whose brothers and sisters are with us (vs. 53-57) – is in fact, God robed in human flesh – God with us. To some He is nothing but a moral teacher, and to others He was a rabble-rouser and a misfit. To us who see, He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Unless the Spirit uncover Him, we do not see.
6 – Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
RAF: Kingdom parable #6 is the mystery of TRANSCENDENCE or SUPERIORITY. It is the explanation of Paul counting all things but dung in comparison to Christ. It is seeing the One Pearl that is infinitely higher than all other good things. There is truth all around us. And all sorts of good things given to us by God’s hand. But we have come to know there is one Gift that is transcendently superior to them all – Christ Jesus the Son. He is not “a” truth, He is THE Truth. He is not “a” gift, He is THE Gift of God. He is the highest of all God’s goodness. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead. Every other “pearl” granted to us by the hand of God pales in comparison. They are but types and shadows of Him, samples of what finds its fullness in the King of Kings. And as real as all the other good things God has given to us -are, not one of those things – or all of them considered together – is to be compared to the Jewel of Heaven. The outshining of God’s own glory. Christ the Lord.
7 – Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV) 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
RAF: Jesus’ last kingdom parable here (#7) treats the mystery of the GOSPEL itself, or of CONSUMMATION. Many are invited, but few are chosen. This we know from Jesus’ own teaching in other places. (Matt. 24:14) The net of the Gospel is cast into the sea of humanity, and all sorts are gathered in indiscriminately. However, we need not fear. The day of sorting will come. There will be a separating of the goats and the sheep. The call of the Gospel is to go out to everyone, everywhere. Providence will certainly dictate some parameters. But that is God’s busines, not ours. Our ambassadorship is not to a few, but to the world. We are His representatives pleading as if the very voice of God were pleading through us “be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthains 5:20) Or, as we see in Luke 12:58 – all men are on their way to judgment. And each needs to reconcile with his adversary now, on the way, lest our guilt and lack of repentance find us in “the prison.” There, there is no forgiveness. Every last cent due, will be extracted. We must tell them while there is time. We may cast the net without concern for what fish will be gathered in it – as the responsibility for the sorting is given to others. Let us discharge our great call, and leave the work assigned to others to them. It is enough for us to be about this work. May His Spirit be pleased to gather in more than we ever imagined.