When “crowds gathered about Him,” Jesus “told them many things in parables.” In Matthew 13 we have a record of seven brief stories that teach us about the Lord’s work in the new gospel age.
The crowd could not comprehend it all since He did not explain the symbolism to them. As Isaiah had prophesied, God would speak through His ambassadors to many who would “hear but never understand.” The plain teaching of the Bible is that God would not give the gift of faith to everyone, “lest they should … understand with their heart and turn” (Isaiah 6:9-10). Salvation belongs to the Lord.
The Messiah’s chosen disciples would learn important truths about His work when He explained these matters to them privately. What did Jesus tell them?
At least four important points are revealed here. First, consistent with Isaiah 6, the “kingdom” is God’s. He grants understanding to human beings according to His own plan. Only then will people receive His Word and “bear fruit.” Second, we may find it challenging to distinguish between “wheat” and “weeds” in the “field” of this world, but at just the right time the Lord will send out His angels and those heavenly servants will make the proper distinctions without error. Third, God’s kingdom starts out small but it expands everywhere. Finally, if we have to give up everything we own to gain eternal life with Jesus, it is still more than worth it.
These are the messages that Christ gave to His chosen flock. Many people “took offense at Him.” Those who knew His mother and siblings were especially skeptical. Yet Jesus indicated that some of the scribes who so often considered the Redeemer their enemy might yet be granted ears to hear. Even they could be “trained for the kingdom of heaven” by divine grace so that they would bring forth “treasure” from “what is new and what is old.”
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of Hosts, You have spoken by Your servants. We pray that we might be good soil, fruitful for Your service. Father, there is an enemy who is ready to take away the Word before we even hear it. Keep him far from our hearts. There is a world of distraction all around us. Clear the rocky ground out of our minds. Root out the thorns that would hide Your teaching. Though Your church may contain both weeds and wheat in this present age, You shall surely make a distinction between them at the harvest. Have mercy upon us and forgive our debts. Build up Your covenant community for the glory of Your Name. Bring all of Your elect into Your home. We long for the day when the righteous will shine like the sun in Your kingdom. Grant us clarity of thought, speech, and action. Remove from us all the fogginess and confusion of sin. We honor You, O God. Do many works of blessing through the people who look for Your Son’s appearing.