Matt. 13: The Kingdom: “Sounds like…”
Parables of Tares, Mustard Seed, and Leaven
Have you ever played charades? In case you haven’t (or if you just landed from Mars), “charades” is an acting game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, often by pantomiming similar-sounding words, and the other players try to guess the word or phrase. The idea is to use physical rather than verbal language to convey the meaning to your teammates. In yesterday’s lesson I talked about how parables – word pictures – are windows into more abstract, complex truths. Charades is a game play form of word pictures, where we use our actions and word synonyms to help others guess the hidden meaning of a particular word or phrase.
In today’s lesson, we study three more parables Jesus used to teach about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is interesting to note from yesterday’s scripture passage that Jesus had two purposes in using parables. For those who accepted Jesus’ teaching, parables first caused people to think about the word picture. Then, after thinking through the symbolism, the mental images created by the word picture provided meaningful and memorable insights into Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. But for those who rejected Jesus’ teaching, parables provided an easy excuse for their disbelief and hardness of heart. They could rationalize Jesus’ teaching as simplistic storytelling of no human or eternal value to stay comfortable in their sin. We have a free will and God allows us to use that free will to accept or reject Him.
Getting Better and Worse Simultaneously
Picking up on the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Tares is a warning to us of false teaching and false belief in the world, even in the church. But God allows the wheat (correct doctrine and belief) and the tares (false doctrine and belief) to grow together. So we see good and evil growing side by side as both grow to maturity as the time of harvest nears. Even so, in this world, we see an increase in the spread of the gospel and good works of the Church moving throughout the world. But we also see the world getting worse as false teaching and sin also mature. This leads to great tension between the two, but God instructs us to be patient until the time of harvest and judgment. Our business is not to try to tear out the tares, but just sow the good seed until Jesus returns for us.
[pullquote_center width=”85%”]The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41-43)[/pullquote_center]
Faith Like a Tiny Mustard Seed
The smallest of seeds sown by men during the time of Christ was the mustard seed. It is the tiniest of seeds that grows into a tree. This is a picture of Christendom and the organized church. Christendom has grown large from its humble beginnings, Jesus and His twelve apostles. But while Christianity may be the dominant religion in the world, organized religion is plagued by the birds that nest on and in it. Scripture is consistent that birds represent evil. Have your ever tried to maintain a garden, or an orchard, or nervously walked beneath swarms of pigeons in an urban setting? Then you are familiar with the dirty, destructive nature of some species of birds that are both prevalent and unwelcome. And just as animal control works to shew birds away from where they do not belong, we need to do the same with false teaching and sin in our lives and in the church. That is the picture of the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
A Little Leaven Can Do a Lot (of Damage)
The Scriptures are consistent in the use of leaven as a symbol of evil. In the Parable of the Leaven, the wheat used to make the bread is symbolic of God’s Word and all the good that comes from it. But adding leaven to the bread is a picture of adding false teaching to God’s Word. So just as in the teachings in the two previous parables, we see “gentle Jesus” giving a stern warning to His followers to beware of those who would lead them astray. Are you in right standing with Jesus, or are you allowing false doctrine and sin to lead you astray? For more on this topic, CLICK HERE to listen to today’s lesson.
Get Plugged Into God’s Plan Today
If you are uncertain of your standing with God, then go to Him right now to start your eternal relationship with Him. His free gift of eternal life and sanctification in Christ is there for the asking. Once you have taken that first step of salvation, our study in Matthew will get you well on your way to a loving and lasting relationship with the Almighty God who is seeking your friendship. He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13) and help you become and do all He has in store for you.
- CLICK HERE to listen to today’s lesson, The Kingdom: “Sounds like…” – Matt. 13:24-43.
- CLICK HERE for an overview of the Gospel of Matthew.
- CLICK HERE to open or download notes and the outline for the Gospel of Matthew.
- CLICK HERE for more about putting your faith in Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation.
- CLICK HERE to access the complete listing of Bible Studies in the Book of Matthew.