Parables of Matthew Thirteen Part 1: An Overview

The parables of Matthew thirteen reveal to us some of the grandest endtime truths Jesus ever uttered. Truths for our day. Our Lord chronicles for us certain events of the church age by using veiled language; i.e., a sower sowing seed, a mustard seed, leaven in a loaf, treasure hid in a field, pearl of great price, the dragnet, and a scribe.

What’s our Lord getting at?

Mysteries Revealed

Christ has handed us the mysteries of His kingdom. And we’re to know His mysteries. They’re given to us. That’s the joy of being children of Light and Day (I Thess.5:5). We’re not left in the dark, especially concerning endtime events. In fact, the theme of these two essays is summed up in verses ten and eleven:

And the disciples came, and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

A Bible mystery is different from the mysteries of the world. Mysteries of the universe are mysteries because we can’t understand or solve them. A Bible mystery, however, is a mystery because some can understand while others can’t. What a blessed people we are! And that’s exactly what Jesus said, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (vs.16). We’re constantly seeing things and hearing things our neighbors know nothing about.

Jesus put it this way, “Many righteous men have desired to see…and to hear those things which you hear” (vs.17).

Jesus made mention of another group, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will not perceive” (vs.14).

The world stares straight at us, straight at the sayings of Jesus, but doesn’t get it. They listen but don’t hear. They look at us as we get on the same elevators, do our shopping, rub elbows, yet they haven’t the slightest notion that we’re from another world. Citizens of another country. We bring angels to work. Our fellow workers see but don’t see. Jesus said of them, they “shall not perceive.” Such is the nature of the mysteries of the kingdom. Some see. Others don’t.

Matthew Thirteen

Matthew thirteen is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Truth is so compressed, so abundant, so prophetic. And I might add, so “Gentile.” Jesus prophesies endtime events to Gentiles in a Jewish book. (By the way, Matthew wrote to the Jews. Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks, and John wrote his gospel to the world.) Yet the Spirit takes the time to prophesy an entire chapter to the Gentiles. He chronicles the church age in a Jewish book. How neat is that?!

An Overview

To understand chapter thirteen, we must go back to chapter twelve. In chapter twelve, the King of Israel is pleading with His people, the House of Israel, not to reject Him. Questions are being raised about our Lord’s identity and the source of His power (verses 22-30). Blasphemy is about to be committed by His own people (verses 31-32). Israel is about to reject her King. Arguments are combative, the meeting confrontational. The stage is being set for chapter thirteen. The first verse of chapter thirteen reads, “The same day went Jesus out of the house and sat by the seaside.”

The same day the House of Israel rejected her King, Jesus went “…out of the house.” He left the House of Israel. The kingdom was taken temporarily from Israel and given to a nation “bringing forth the fruits”—the Church.

The Master then sat by the seaside. Revelation 17:15 tells us that the sea (“the waters”) often represents Gentile nations. Matthew thirteen is about the King of Israel, having removed His kingdom from His own people, now turns to the Gentile nations. And the church age begins. Chapter thirteen chronicles those events in veiled language.

We must remember, Jesus was sent first to the House of Israel (Mt.15:24). In the book of Matthew, the King of Israel has come to His people for the purpose of setting up His kingdom. That’s Matthew’s theme: the Messiah (the Long-awaited One) has finally arrived! Matthew’s favorite word is “fulfilled” (1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 8:17, 13:17, 13:35, 21:4, 26:54, 27:9, 27:35).

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