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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

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Jesus Spoke In Parables

Matthew Thirteen

Much of the teaching of Jesus was embodied in His parables. He taught more than thirty parables and also used a number of parable-like statements. A parable is a very simple story that did happen or could happen. It contains only one moral or spiritual lesson.

Parables are attributed to Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The gospel of John, contain the lessons of the Good Shepherd and The Vine and the branches that are parables. Some of the parables are found in more than one gospel. Several are unique to one gospel only. One source said that the gospel of Matthew contains twenty-three parables and six of them are unique to Matthew. Luke contains twenty-four parables and ten of them are unique only to Luke. Mark contains eight parables and only one is unique to Mark, John contains the parable-like stories of the “Good Shepherd” ( Joh_10:11-18 ) and the “Vine and the Branches.” ( Joh_15:1-8 )

In Matthew 13 we have record of several parables spoken by our Lord. We read, (1) the Sower ( Mat_13:3-23 ), (2) the Tares (Matt-hew 13:24-30, (3) the Mustard Seed ( Mat_13:31-32 ), (4) the Leaven ( Mat_13:33 ), (5) the Hidden Treasure ( Mat_13:44 ), (6) the Pearl of Great Price ( Mat_13:45-46 ), and (7) The casting of the dragnet. ( Mat_13:47-50 )

Verses 1-23

The parable of the sower Mat_13:1-23 : Jesus taught from a boat as a great multitude stood on the shore. In Jesus' day sowing was absolutely necessary for survival. Sowing is necessary but it also takes a fertile heart. Jesus spoke of the seed failing (1) by the wayside and being devoured, (2) on stony places and withering because of lack of depth, (3) among thorns and being choked, and (4) on good ground and producing fruit. The word of God produces different fruit according to how it is received.

Jesus explained the parable by saying, (1) the seed is the word of God, (2) the Devil takes the word from some hearts, wayside soil, (3) the lack of depth keeps God's word from growing in some hearts, rocky soil, (4) the pleasures and riches of the world choke the word from other hearts, thorny soil, and (5) the word was received in good hearts and brought forth fruit, good soil.

The "good ground" hearer is willing to listen to and to learn the word of God. They are never too busy to learn nor too proud to change. These people are literally transformed into the likeness of Christ by the power of the gospel. Is your heart good soil for God's word?

The disciples asked Jesus, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" Jesus spoke in parables so His disciples could understand and so those who did not want to hear, see or understand would not understand. ( Mat_13:11 )

Verses 24-43

The parable of the wheat and tares Mat_13:24-43 : A man sowed good seed in his field. An enemy sowed tares among the wheat. The servants were not allowed to root up the tares least, by accident they also root up the wheat. At harvest time the reapers would separate the wheat from the tares.

From the malicious sowing of tares we learn that we must patiently work with those that have received the word into their heart. Satan does his work to destroy the good seed that has been sown. Sin is a destructive force and we must be on guard against it. The only way to overcome the work of Satan is to allow God's word to take deep root in our heart.

Jesus explained the parable of the tares by saying, (1) the Son of man sowed good seed, (2) the field is the world, (3) the good seed are the children of the kingdom, (4) the tares are the children of the evil one, (5) the enemy is the Devil, (6) the harvest is at the end of the world, (7) the reapers are the angels, and (8) a furnace of fire awaits the wicked.

The parable of the mustard seeds and leaven, both show that the kingdom would begin small but would grow to become strong and even to fill the earth. The church is to spread like leaven in meal or it is to grown from the smallest seed till it becomes strong. Christians must create an atmosphere of growth. Only then can the transformation of lives take place. ( 2Co_5:17 ) This is a transformation similar to that to the leaven in the meal.

It was a matter of prophecy that Jesus would speak in parables. ( Mat_13:35 ) Prophecies like Psa_78:2 prove Jesus to be the Messiah. "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old."

Verses 44-46

The parables of precious things Mat_13:44-46 : In Jesus' day the safest place to keep treasures was buried. That idea led to the parable of treasure hidden in a field. The man that found the treasure was willing to give up everything, with joy, for the kingdom. In the kingdom of Christ we find a treasure (1) worth possessing, (2) of greater value than anything we now possess, (3) a treasure that will bring great joy, and (4) that man, can afford by giving up what he has.

The pearl of great price teaches a similar lesson. Pearls in the days of Jesus represented supreme value. The man was searching for the pearl just as we should search for the kingdom. The searching merchant was able to recognize the pearl just as we should recognize the kingdom of God. He gave up all for the pearl just as we should give up all for the kingdom. Discovering God's kingdom and the privilege of being part of it is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding that one pearl of great price. The treasure of the kingdom is worth our heart.

Verses 47-58

The Parable Of The Dragnet Mat_13:47-58 : The dragnet was a common way of fishing in Jesus' day and is still used today. The dragnet took in all kinds of fish. Just so, the gospel net brings all kind of people into the church. When a person comes into the body of Christ you cannot tell whether they will turn out good or bad, you just love them and encourage them, praying that they will be among the good. Our duty is to gather all that will come into the kingdom. At the end of the world there will come a time of separation when, "the angels shall come forth, and severe the wicked from among the just." The righteous will go to heaven; the wicked will go into a furnace of fire.

After these parables were ended Jesus spoke in the synagogue in His own country, Capernaum. The people rejected Jesus because they knew Him. His reply was "a prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." ( Mat_13:57 ) When Jesus spoke in parables He spoke with power.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 13". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/matthew-13.html. 2014.
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