Matthew 13 - 6/11/2023
Chapter 13 is the third of the three major speeches in the book of Matthew
The first major speech is the sermon on the mount, the second was in Matthew 10, the fouth one is Matthew 18, and the last one takes up chapters 23, 24, and 25
You’ve heard me talk about those five major speeches — pillars a couple of times. I want to explain what exactly I mean by that.
One of the most important things to understand about the book of Matthew was that Matthew was not written Chronologically. Matthew wrote thematically and out of order to make a point. One of the ways he structured the book was to build it around five major speeches of Jesus.
You can almost think of these speeches as intermissions. They’re standalone parts of the Account. To say it another way, the parts that are in-between the speeches are the action parts. Jesus did this, went here, healed this person. And the speeches are the teaching parts.
Before jumping into the speech, let’s look at where the action part of the life of Jesus is going, and what comes right before this speech, and what’s going to come right after the speech.
Before: Matthew 11, Jesus is doubted by John the Baptist. He’s doubted by the crowds, the cities of Bethsaida and Chorazin where he had done so many miracles have failed to recognize his kingship.
In Chapter 12, Jesus is rejected wholesale by the Pharisees. The religious leaders. At the very end of Chapter 12, Matthew doesn’t come right out and say it, but he hints around the notion that there’s a falling out with his family. We know that’s true by the other accounts of the gospel.
But one of the rules that we set up when we started reading this was that we were going to look at Matthew only, so that we could give the book of matthew the full attention it deserves. So as we’re reading this story, we just have hints that something is going on with Jesus and his family.
At the very end of Chapter 13, right after Jesus gives his teachings, we see something startling.
Now when Jesus finished these parables, he moved on from there. Then he came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? Isn’t his the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? And aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And aren’t all his sisters here with us? So where did he get all this?” And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own house.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
At this point, Jesus has pretty much been rejected by everyone.
Examples of being rejected, working hard for the kingdom, and being rejected.
Cooking a meal that you worked really hard at and nobody likes it.
Ministry, rejection is almost built in to the equation. Jesus has given us this goal of going out and growing the kingdom, and giving up everything for the kingdom, and telling everyone we know about the king, because that’s what Jesus commands us to do.
But when we invite our friends to church, and they look at us like we have two heads, that can be difficult. When we share the gospel, and it feels like what we’re saying has no effect whatsoever, that can be gut wrenching. When we commit ourselves to sharing the Joy of Jesus, and the good news that he brings to our lives, and it seems like everywhere we turn we’re falling flat on our faces. Sometimes it feels like you’re running uphill in the sand because you’re so excited to share Jesus with people, and it feels like it’s having no effect. That’s exhausting.
The big question on our mind should be, why is jesus being rejecteted like this.
If you lived in around the year 60 to 70 AD. and you were reading this book for the very first time, that’s what you would be wondering. It’s difficult, but I want you to try and forget about the fact that you already know what happens at the end. Read this with fresh eyes.
You would be wondering at this point, why on earth is everyone rejecting Jesus, when he is literally performing miracles.
Healing diseases, controlling the weather Miraculously causing shriveled hand to come back to full size and strength. Going up to people who are dead, and making them not dead.
If I turned on the news and there was a church in the middle of Iowa somewhere, and there were confirmed reports of God raising people from the dead, and they were all members of that church, and it was confirmed and wasn’t a hoax and all of that, I would quit my job, and move to that town in Iowa, and get rid of everything, and I would do whatever they’re doing.
But that’s not what we see. (caveat, that’s not entirely what we see. Jesus is starting to divide people. The ones who believe are all in, and the ones who don’t believe are all out). So it’s not fair to say he’s rejected by everyone. But he’s rejected by a lot of people.
First two parables.
On that day after Jesus went out of the house, he sat by the lake. And such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat to sit while the whole crowd stood on the shore. He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered. Other seeds fell among the thorns, and they grew up and choked them. But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. The one who has ears had better listen!”
Jump ahead to the explanation of the parable.
“So listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path. The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth choke the word, so it produces nothing. But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”
The cold-hard facts of the situation is, not everyone is going to believe in Jesus. Full-Stop. Some people are not going to believe in Jesus.
Their hearts are simply not receptive to the message.
Some people are going to believe, and then fall away.
There are people in my life, people I love, people who I have personally discipled and helped to lead them to a point where they felt like they were ready to commit their lives to Christ. and looking at them now, it’s like they never believed. Completely fallen away.
Then the disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He replied, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not. For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand. And concerning them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will listen carefully yet will never understand, you will look closely yet will never comprehend. For the heart of this people has become dull; they are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ “But your eyes are blessed because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
The fact of the matter is, the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of the bible are a mystery. In verse 11, where Jesus says you’ve been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom, your bible probably even says the word mystery there. The point of it is, to those who are not followers of Jesus, a lot of what he says, parables or otherwise, just doesn’t make sense until it does.
And the sad truth is, not everyone will respond to the seeds that you plant.
What do we do with that information?
Parable of the Wheat and Tares
He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and went away.
What is Darnel
Right off the bat let’s figure out what’s going on here. Because I can guarantee with about 99% accuracy that the bible you’re reading, unless you have one of our hand-outs, or you’re using the app, the word you have there is either “Weeds” or “tares”
-We’re using the NET bible translation, partly because they have a very generous copyright policy, and they allowed us to make all of the handouts of the entire book of Matthew free of charge.
And every now and then, you’ll come across a word that’s probably not in most of our Bibles.
And the word I have here is “Darnel”
-Weeds, and tares are both just generic terms for weeds. Darnel is the actual plant that Jesus is talking about. Darnel is the actual plant that Jesus is talking about here. It would be the difference between me saying “there are some weeds in our Garden, and saying there are some Russian thistles in the garden. It’s important.
Question: Where are my gardeners, farmers, ranchers...
If I said, “hey we have a bunch of russian thistles that need pulled this saturday, what are you bringing with you? (Gloves)
Darnel is a weed that when it’s growing looks almost identical to wheat. It’s related to annual rye grass. It doesn’t really exist in modern agriculture anymore. We have round-up ready crops, and certified seed distributors, and very precise pesticide application that Darnel has pretty much been killed out. In fact it doesn’t exist in the state of nebraska at all. But in some third world countries it’s still a problem.
And the problem with Darnel is that it’s very difficult to tell it apart from wheat until harvest time. At harvest time the seed head turns black, and then you can really separate it out.
When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the darnel also appeared.
By the time they recognized it, it was too late.
The other problem with it is that it’s extremely poisonous. If you have darnel in your wheat harvest, you’re not just talking about crop loss. You’re talking about loss of life.
The workers in the parable are able to identify that they think some darnel is in the field.
So the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the darnel come from?’ He said, ‘An enemy has done this!’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather it?’ But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the darnel you may uproot the wheat along with it. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
So he says at this point, there’s no sense in trampling across the field and trying to sort it all out. All you’re going to do is damage the good crop you already have.
Let it all grow, and we’ll sort it all out in the end.
If you read verse 36, that’s what our attitude should be.
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field.” He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The poisonous weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. As the poisonous weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 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. The one who has ears had better listen!
How this applies to us?
Let me make this absolutely clear. Your job, and my job, is not to sort the wheat from the weeds. Our job is to decide, not to sort, not to determine.
In doing so, we run the risk of damaging relationships.
And also, I think Jesus used this metaphor on purpose. Because you don’t know what is in someone’s heart. Just like with the wheat and the darnel, you can’t always tell where someone is.
And the big difference between plants and people is that people have the ability to turn around.
A weed is always going to be a weed, but with Christ, he gives us the ability to turn to him. like we talked about last week, he can turn a bad tree into a good tree.
And the other thing that we have to recognize is that we coexist in the world with other people. Other non-Christians. People who don’t know the lord.
And we have a choice. We can look down on the world, and turn up our noses, and stay our own little christian bubble, or we can do what Jesus tells us to do: Be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth.
You can be that person that someone looks at and thinks to themselves, wow, I guess there still is hope.
But let’s be real. that can be an exhausting place to be.
Parable of the Mustard Seed/Yeast
The discouragement of being saved and wanting to help
It can be exhausting. It can be discouraging. Because if you’re a believer in Jesus you have this unexplainable joy and hope inside of you and you just want to share with everyone.
And it’s extremely discouraging when all you want to do is grow God’s kingdom and it feels like you just keep getting dead ends. Here’s some hope for you.
He gave them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”
God’s kingdom will grow. It was true for the twelve, it was true for the early church, and it’s true for us. But you’ve got to keep planting seeds. You’ve got to keep farming.
Sometimes those seeds are going to end up on bad soil Sometimes you’re going to plant good seeds, only to have the weeds and the thorns and the Darnel come and choke them out. But you’ve got to keep planting.
because as discouraging as it is, the message that you are spreading, the kingdom you are helping to grow is worth it. It’s extremely valuable.
Parables of the Treasure and the Pearl
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.
The Value of the kingdom
The point of this parable is not that you need to hide the Kingdom. The point is that the kingdom is worth giving up everything for.
If you’re a follower of Jesus you probably already know that. If not I want to tell you that it is.
Getting a good seed
And as farmers for the kingdom, we plant and we plant, and we water, and we cultivate. and we do everything to try to get a seed to grow.
And every now and then you come across that one. It hits good soil, and it grows. And get that person who recognizes the value of the kingdom and the gospel message and they go all in. They sell the farm they bend over backwards, they are all in.
That’s what we’re looking for.
A lot of churches these days are worried about their numbers. They have metrics and they’re tracking attendance numbers and participation numbers. And we do that, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. But if numbers are your only goal, you’re missing the point. I don’t go home and pray over numbers. I don’t go to God in prayer and thank him for a 12% increase in attendance.
I pray over people
I pray for you. Each and every one of you, by name.
I praise God when I see him working through you, I pray that he would bless you in your specific circumstances.
and when we spread the gospel that’s how we should be. We should be praying over that one person, that he or she would recognize the treasure of Jesus.
I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
More often than not, God does this amazing thing where what we read in scripture just so happens to directly apply to something that I’m struggling with.
Bear in mind, I’ve been planning to do this series on Matthew since Before Christmas of Last year.
And a couple of weeks ago, I was going through our list of registrations for Vacation Bible school…and if you’re not aware, we are joining forces with our neighbors over at the first baptist church to put on a VBS for the kids of Alliance. And we’ve been praying over the town of alliance, and praying over the kids
-And we have this strong urge to make a difference in the lives of the children and families of Alliance Nebraska.
-If you haven’t signed up to volunteer for that, I’d recommend getting with Marie after church. Because I really do feel like it’s a worthwhile thing to do.
-But I was going through our registrations, and we have 5 kids registered to come to VBS.
-And none of them are from outside the church. They’re all either our kids, or kids who are at First Baptist.
-And I got discouraged. I got discouraged about hearing from some of you who have been handing out flyers and getting rejected. “No we’re not going to that. We’re this denomination or that denomination, so we can’t go”
-And lo and behold this week, this is what our message is about.
-So you know what, if we end up with five kids, and they’re all already our kids, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to plant seeds.
-and if God wills it and at the last minute we end up with 20 kids. We’re going to plant seeds.
-And if we’re tired and hungry, we’re going to plant seeds
-And if the kids don’t listen, or they’re not paying attention, or it seems like they’re not getting it, we’re going to plant seeds.