I love Matthew 13. It is a remarkable passage. Gathered together here are 7 parables. Parables of the Kingdom. They form a primer for the Disciples of a sort. How they are to understand the Kingdom in the intervening years between Jesus’ ascension and return. A study of each parable by itself is very profitable. Each one, while simple, is profound and rich. But what often gets overlooked is the larger picture. In other words, what happens when we take all 7 together, and assemble the complete picture?
When we take all seven parables here and put them together, What emerges, is a primer for the Apostles, on getting a “Church Age Overview.” A wonderful grip on what’s happening, what to expect, and what to do. A severely neglected manual for keeping a vision for the Church and its mission in every age. It offers encouragement, insight, and is a preventative against unreal expectations – all in one. Pastors – take heart!
Let’s see the scheme in order.
1 / 3-9 & 18-23 / The Mystery of PROPAGATION: How the Church grows. “The Sower sows The Word”. 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 or people rising and conquering with political or military power – it is about the Word of God bringing forth its fruit.
2 / 24-30 & 36-43 / The Mystery of PROXIMITY: The Wheat and the Tares. Explaining that there will be mixture and iniquity on the earth until Christ returns. Despite all of our efforts, there will be a mixed multitude among us. The Pagans will be with us to the end – both inside and outside the Church. Simon Magus’s will enter. We will not be able to purge them all out – nor should that be our focus. There will be necessary Church discipline, yes. But witch hunting? No. Do not be surprised that there will be imposters among us.
3 / 31-32 / The Mystery of TRANSITION: The Mustard Seed. Explaining the small beginning of the Kingdom versus its very great end. What will be, bears little resemblance to what is now.
4 / 33-35 / The Mystery of TRANSFORMATION: Leaven. The image is a deliberately internal one. Change in the Believer has an instantaneous start that produces its great effects secretly, inwardly and thoroughly, but over time. We GROW into the image of Christ’s character, we aren’t zapped there all at once.
5 / 44 – / The Mystery of SUPREMACY: The Hidden Treasure. Explaining how it is that genuine believers are motivated to sacrifice all for that which others cannot see. Here, the man (inexplicably to the naked eye) values what is not seen by others above all else.
6 / 45-46 / The Mystery of SUPERIORITY: The Pearl. Explaining how it is Believers place Christ above all other religion. Christ is our greatest gain.
7 / 47-50 / The Mystery of The CONSUMMATION: The Dragnet. Explaining the free offer of the Gospel to all men. Many are called, but few are chosen. 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.
Taken in order then we learn these 7 lessons.
A – Confidence and Comfort in the simple plan and program of God in evangelism. God’s Word IS sufficient.
B – There is no need to fret or fear if the World seems to grow and progress in evil along with the Church. The harvest WILL come.
C – Though the Kingdom may seem small and insignificant now – wait. The half has not been told.
D – Though you seem to make little progress in sanctification, you WILL be transformed into His image as the Kingdom grows within you and affects every part.
E – Though others have not seen what you have – you are not a fool to forsake that which you cannot keep to obtain that which you cannot lose.
F – Let no one dissuade you from the singular excellencies of Christ. Truth isn’t all about us- but He is THE Truth, THE Life, and THE Way.
G – Give the Gospel to all men and draw them in. But give them no comfort in the MERE fact they dwell among the saints, simply because they found an attraction here. If they have not been changed, if they are spoiled or dead or unprofitable, they WILL be cast away.