There are a lot of parables today because my reading plan took me through Matthew 13. Which is 7 parables. Most are pretty short. The amazing thing is I believe they are connected to give us all one glorious picture which I can hopefully bring together at the end.
The First of these parables is Matthew 13:1-23, the Parable of the sower. This is a parable that I have heard many times. I know that the seed on the path was the word of God falling on hard hearts and wasn't received. The seed on the rocky soil was the word of God immediately received with Joy but had no root so it died. The seed that fell among the thorns were people that received the word of God and got beat down with the pressures of this world. The good soil is the word of God that took root and produced a crop, the sign of a person truly restoring their relationship with God.
What really stood out to me today in this parable was when Jesus was explaining to his disciples that some people although they hear they do not listen, and all though they see they do not perceive. I see this a lot as a pastor, and I'm pretty positive that I'm not the only one that does. There are times that I'm talking to students, or even giving a sermon to an entire congregation and there are always some people that have just blank stares on their face. You can tell it's going in one ear and out the other. This can be discouraging and I know this is just how it is sometimes. A parable takes on new meaning when you see it come to life. I don't have the answer for this problem, and I'm not sure there is one until Christ returns. Just persevere and keep doing what God has called me to do. Spread some seed.
Matthew 13:24-30: The Parable of the Weeds is next. I have to admit I have never really looked at this one. I think it is easily looked over following that sower guy. But it's interesting and the explanation says a lot. Pretty much it is saying that the farmer (God) is planting His field (the world) and he is planting wheat (righteous people ). During the night an enemy (Satan) planted some weeds (unrighteous people). Instead of directly taking all the weeds out the farmer says lets wait until harvest so that we don't pull out the wheat with the weeds. So they wait until they can separate the weeds and wheat easily.
The first thing I see is that we are meant to grow in the world among some nasty stuff. The second thing I see is that it is not our job to pull the weeds, that is God's job when it's time to harvest everything (this is seen in another upcoming parable).
The Parable of the mustard seed and the yeast found in Matt. 13:32-35 is a picture of the Kingdom of God growing. It may have started out small but it will grow large and be a safe place. These processes take time, and I think it's still growing.
The parable of the hidden treasure and the merchant in verses 44-46. The Kingdom of Heaven is so important that we should give up everything to gain it.
And the Parable of the fish nets in verses 47-52. Once again only God has the right to separate the righteous and the unrighteous. We just do the catching.
Now I know I didn't do these parables justice (maybe some other time). But what I really want to share is what I saw today. What I saw today was the Kingdom of Heaven coming all together.
First off let me set this part up...I believe the Kingdom of Heaven is here. I picture it like this, Jesus prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven during His 3 year ministry, when He died the Kingdom of Heaven came and when we give our lives back to Christ we are engulfed into the Kingdom of Heaven (which is a Kingdom that will continue to exist after this world has ended).
So bringing it all together....Imagine a man walking around in this world and one day he hears someone telling him about a city that will out live any other city and this world. That there is unending pure joy in this city and he was initially created to inhabit this city. There are no annoying neighbors, no piles of trash, and no traffic. There is a mayor (if you will) of this city who is the best mayor EVER!! People actually just sit around all day thanking and praising this mayor for all the good things He has done.
This man believes this mayor is real and decides he wants to live in this city with this mayor. He goes and sells his house, his car, everything he owns so that he can put all of his effort into this great city. He understands that he still has to live in the city he currently lives in and go to work with people that push him around and don't really care about him, but he shows them love, because he knows that is what the mayor of this great city would do.
He talks to the people in his current city, never judging (he knows he cannot do that, he was once like these people). A few of these people even believe him and they will live together in this great city. And one day his current city will crumble and decay; people will be left behind in this old city and die with it and be separated from anything good. This man will finally move to this great city that will endure eternity, and he will walk up to the mayor of this city. The mayor will say, "well done my faithful citizen, come and rest in my city"!
This is the Kingdom of Heaven.