The parables of Jesus are not nice, clear, convential stories. Anyone who thinks so hasn't read them. The parables of Jesus are crazy, confusing, and disorienting.
Jesus's parables are designed to disorient us from our convential assumptions so that he can lead us into the upside-down world of the Kingdom of God.
The analogy of when the first iPhone came out. And then everyone was like “Oh my gosh is it going to do a Calculator?" But basically we didn't even know the right questions to ask. We didn't know what we needed.
There's that quote by Ford or someone that if he had asked people what they wanted they would have asked for a faster horse.
People come to bible - already decided.
In the same way, people can come to the Bible having already decided what they need and what will make them happy, but we don’t know.
Sex, drugs, money, power. Those are basically the best ideas we’ve had, and they don’t make us happy.
Did you know at a certain level, increasing your income actually makes you LESS happy.
So that's what we're doing. We're going to the ministry of Jesus and we're not trying to prove OUR point, but just let him speak for himself. Where the point of his talk is the point of our talk.
And I just need to warn you, Jesus seemed to be tougher often times than I like to be. So I've put on my courage for this series, and my prayer is that my teaching on these subjects is true to what he's wanting to communicate here.
This past weekend I finished the book 'Coroline'. Has anyone ever read that book? It's by an author that I really like named Neil Gaiman.
An adventure for kids and terrifying for adults. I found it terrifying, so apparently, I've arrived at adulthood.
Well the basic idea of the story, without giving too much away. It's about Coraline, a small girl who's small for her age. She lives in a strange house with her parents, and she discovers a door with a brick wall behind it, but later when she opens the door, there's a hallway. And it leads to a different world, that's a lot like her world, but a little bit 'off'. She has a mother and father that look like her mother and father in the real world but a little bit off. Plus cats talk. So it's a world that's like her world, but seen in a very different way.
And that's kind of what the parables are like. They're like seeing the world you know, in a new, disorienting way.
So in Matthew 13 we come across what are known as ‘apocalyptic’ parables. And that sounds like nuclear bombs going off, but the word apocalypse from a bible standpoint, means ‘uncovering’. And that’s what these parables are all about. That there will be a time where everything in our lives in laid bare, and the truth is uncovered.
Jesus was (unlike many of us) an interesting teacher. His teaching was dominated by pictures and illustrations. The word parable comes from the Greek word parabole, which really means to compare. It’s a metaphor. “This is like this.” A parable is a concrete depiction of a cosmic truth. That’s why Jesus is constantly saying, “The kingdom of God is like …”
A parable is an illustration. It’s a picture. It’s a way of taking something as abstract and as multi-dimensional as the kingdom of God and making it something very concrete, something easy to grasp.
“The Kingdom of God is like this”
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like this”
So we’re going to mostly talk about 2 parables. Two famous parables and they’re interesting b/c these are the only 2 parables that Jesus tells and then gives really detailed explanations for.
Only parables - detailed explanations.
They’re super important.
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" (Mark 4:13)
What Jesus is trying to explain in these parables is this: Some people last in the Christian faith, and many don't.
So in Matthew 13 - Jesus goes and sits beside the sea. - Sea of Galilee - Really it’s a lake. (Map)
And as he does this a huge crowd gathers around him, and because of that, Jesus gets onto a boat that’s tied to the shore and speaks to the people who are standing on the beach.
And he begins to tell this series of parables.
When his disciples ask him WHY he speaks in parables, he says this super interesting thing where he quotes Isaiah and says :
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (Matthew 13:13)
In order - understand Jesus - transformed.
Essentially what he’s saying is that in order to understand Jesus, we have to be transformed into something new.
Where we’re not just a regular, typical, common sense kind of person, but that we’ve been transformed into something totally different, where we see the world differently than other people do.
So let’s read the 2 parables and then we’ll talk about them.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. (Matthew 13:1)
Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. (Matthew 13:2)
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. (Matthew 13:3)
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. (Matthew 13:4)
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. (Matthew 13:5)
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (Matthew 13:6)
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. (Matthew 13:7)
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:8)
EXPLANATION 1. Later to his disciples
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: (Matthew 13:18)
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13:19)
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. (Matthew 13:20)
But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. (Matthew 13:21)
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23)
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. (Matthew 13:24)
But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. (Matthew 13:25)
When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. (Matthew 13:26)
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ (Matthew 13:27)
“ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ (Matthew 13:28)
“ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. (Matthew 13:29)
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” (Matthew 13:30)
Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” (Matthew 13:36)
He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. (Matthew 13:37)
The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, (Matthew 13:38)
and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (Matthew 13:39)
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:40)
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:41)
They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:42)
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:43)
Here’s a brief summary:
There’s a farmer and he sows seed on different kinds of soil.
This farmer is using ‘broadcast sowing’ where he would just scatter the seed where he wanted it to grow. So not every seed would grow.
4 Different Soils
It’s only the last one that survives and grows.
He comes back to explain that these soils represent people’s hearts, and depending on their heart, some will remain in the faith and others will fall away.
The called the parable of the sower, but really, it’s a parable about soil. That’s the only thing that’s changing for one to the next. It’s the same sower (God) and the same seed (God’s word) - but it’s the heart of the person that’s different.
There’s a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while he was sleeping an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When the plants started to grow, they said “Master, didn’t you sow good seed? Why then is there weeds also?” The master replies “An enemy did this.” The servants say “Do you want us to pull up the weeds?”
Master: “No, if you do you might harm the wheat. But let them grow together and at harvest time, I’ll have the harvesters separate the weeds from the wheat.”
Bible scholars will tell us that the kind of weed is zizania. Back in the day zizania was the bane of a wheat farmers existence.
It looked just like wheat, and it grew with wheat, but at harvest, there was no grain. (Pic)
No head of grain at all. Just stalk.
So you have two plants that look identical, but one will produce fruit and the other won't.
He explains that the farmer is Jesus,
And how will they be known? By their fruit, of lack thereof.
I want you to think of these two parables as one big picture of your life as a Christian.
Imagine - like this
A seed is planted in your heart. Will it live? Will it grow? Will it mature? Will it produce a harvest?
And in the same way, in the end, God will be the one to say what kind of plant you were. Were you wheat or were you a weed?
Litmus test: Fruit.
Both parables have to do with the fruit of your life.
The first one is the condition of your heart and how affects your ability to live a fruitful life.
The other is about how real christians and fake christians are hard to differentiate, and at the end of the day, their fruit is how you'll be able to tell.
We live in a world filled with real Christians and fake Christians. I’m sure that sounds hard, but it’s so obviously true.
83% - Americans identify - Christians.
And I’ll just say “Oh come on.”
Not everyone who says ‘Lord Lord’ is a real Christian.
And Jesus makes it CLEAR not that we’re SAVED by works (we’re not) but that our actions are how we’re able to tell the inner state of a person.
You have to take responsibility for your own Christianity.
Can’t MAKE YOU want God.
As much as I, or any other pastor want to, we can’t MAKE YOU want God. That’s up to you and your heart.
'What did I do wrong?' Nothing. You can't make people want God. - Not - Responsibility.
You might be a hypocrite and make it harder, but if you're honestly trying and they have no interest, it's not your fault.
Story: people in church thriving and the people who brought them are no longer serving God. Think about that for a second. "The family that brought me here, they won me to Christ, and now not serving God."
Our culture: crazy idea - if people do wrong and make bad choices, it must be b/c somebody else made them do it.
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
So the first: Soil is packed too hard, so tight that the seed can’t get in there.
The idea is that people who have really hard hearts don’t understand Jesus.
It’s not a problem with the seed. Everyone got the same seed, and some understood and some didn't.
You could say it like this: These are people who are hard hearted.
North Valley We live in the north valley. And there’s some of these paths along the river that people have been walking on for years and years and years, and they're like concrete.
Jesus said some people are hard hearted. Developed this attitude of being 'hard'. Haven't said in 10 years that they're sorry. Apologized to anybody. No 'I'm sorry, I'm wrong, would you forgive me?' Run their life that way. Always right. Nothing tender about them at all.
Jesus says these kinds of people often times "don't make it."
Just like the ground by the river, there’s people who have had really hard lives and so to protect themselves, they’ve responded by getting super hard, and jaded, and cynical.
Being in the ministry, I see this all the time. People who go through a tough divorce, or they some tragedy happens. And it just seems like they put on this suit of armor and never let anyone near.
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Just like we talked about last week, these are people who can’t handle the idea of Christianity costing you something.
These are people who’s idea of Christianity is all in the world of life being easy.
I just want to add this: Some people can’t handle the fact that sometimes church life is hard.
People get offended.
The main reason people leave church - offense.
I’m NOT saying that the church hasn’t done some really terrible things. We have. Of course.
We’ve wounded minorities, that’s a big part of our history unfortunately. So I’m not saying that peoples wounded towards the church aren’t valid. They TOTALLY are.
Some people - see flaws -- push through. But the parable teaches us that there’s some people people who see the flaws of the church and just remove themselves, and then there’s others that are able to see the church, warts and all, and still push through and survive it.
Pastors. You know who can really get wounded by the church? Pastors. This can be soul-crushing work. The average tenure of a pastor at a church is 3.6 years. The average tenure of a youth pastor - 11 months.
Lots of people end up leaving the church because the church is full of hypocrites. Look, if people are a part of it, there’s going to be hypocrisy. So just mark it as read that the church is going to have hypocrites in it.
Here's the idea: if you read scriptures, see it doesn't have to be perfect for it to be of God. God's part is perfect. Anytime you assemble humans, imperfection.
Jesus: ‘offended - don’t last’
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Some don't last because they get distracted.
1. The Worries of this Life
This is basically “I’m busy man! I got crap to do.”
Youth Ministry - Sports
I actually see this is youth ministry all the time, where kids are doing good, the love Jesus, they love church, and then their parents fill their life with 1000 tons of other junk - sports, debate club, and it all seems to take priority over church.
And all of us youth leaders know that that kid, if he doesn’t stay connected to the things of God - scripture, prayer, community, and lets be honest, for the majority of Christians, their primary experience of those things is church, if they pull away from that, it’s only a matter of time before their relationship with God becomes LESS important to them.
And also, it teaches those kids a really bad lesson which is this: Do the God thing, unless you have something better to do.
Nothing wrong with you having hobbies, and other stuff you’re in to.
But don’t ever let those things take priority over your relationship with God. If you do, Jesus is saying ‘You’re probably not gonna last.'
2. The Deceitfulness of Wealth.
Jesus says “You can’t serve both God and money."
Either you’ll hate one and love the other, or you’ll love one and despise the other.
Here’s the question: Which one do you love and which one do you despise?
We all need money to survive in this world. Jesus had money. Not a lot, but a little.
The problem is loving money.
Is your bottom line getting money, or is your bottom line pleasing God?
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Summary : This beloved parable reminds us that the determining factor in seeing God’s Word transform your life is NOT primarily the seed (God’s word) or even the sower (God). Of the these three — the sower, seed and soil — the soil (your heart) is the only thing that’s changing. Of course, both the sower and the seed are necessary to even give someone a choice, but at the end of the day, the condition of your soul will determine the fruit of your life.
Remember with me the question of the workers: "Should we pull out the weeds?"
For sure this is one of the toughest temptations for religious people: to sort the good people from the bad people, the saints from the sinners, the church from the world, the saved from the damned.
But what does the farmer say? The farmer says, Don't get into the weeding business. If you do you'll pull up the good with the bad.
From a strictly farming point of view, weeding is NECESSARY for keep a farm healthy. But that’s why this is so surprising. The kingdom of God is totally different than anything else in the world.
Weeds - no good. -- Weeding? Just as bad.
In fact, when you look at the ministry of Jesus, you can see that the judgmental people who are spending their time weeding out the good and the bad, that’s one of the things that makes them bad.
The pharisees “Thank God that we’re not like those people!”
Jesus says “You’re worse."
So just let the good and the bad live alongside each other. Trust that God will sort it all out in the end. Sorting saints from sinners isn't your job. So let it be.
1. Fruit is what counts.
2. The condition of your soul determines how you do in the Christian life.
3. Don’t judge
Your heart is like a field where seed has been sown. The condition of your heart is what determines whether that seed will grow or die. And it’s your responsibility. It’s your responsibility to guard your heart from becoming hard, from becoming offended, and from becoming distracted. The responsibility for the quality of your relationship with God is yours and yours alone. And in the end, all the be made known. Your motives, your words, your actions, all will be laid bare. And it will be by your fruit that you will be judged.
So worry about the log in your own eye, and don’t spend another minute judging others. No one is getting away with anything. Not ultimately. And you’re not the one who has the wisdom to differentiate the wheat from the weeds, so stop weeding. Leave that up to God. Instead, continue to cultivate your own relationship with him, and learn to trust him with all that you are.
Parable Mustard Seed & the yeast
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. (Matthew 13:31)
Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:32)
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13:33)
This small thing, this way of living that Jesus calls us to, it's amazing how it can really grow into this thing that controls the way you live your life.
I’ve grown up in the church, so in a sense I’ve been following God my whole life, but I’ve REALLY been following Jesus, full time, on purpose, for I guess 19 years. And I never would have imagined how that has fundamentally changed the way I see the world.
I feel like if 15 years ago, I was able to look into the future and see who I am today, I would never have believed it. I’m SO different. God has fundamentally changed who I am.
And now, I can honestly say, that I will lay down everything for what Jesus says.
Here’s my question:
Here’s my question: Are you growing?