A Current Bible Study:

Matthew Chapter 13:
"Christ's Parable Garden"

     Begin by reading the chapter directly from the Bible. This study is a little guide. The real power is found in the original text. In this Bible passage we are hearing directly from the greatest preacher and teacher who ever lived on this earth.

Verses 1-3 - "And great multitudes were gathered together unto Him..."
A lot of people were coming to church on this day. There were actually crowd control problems, but they worked it out. There is much talk today in the entertainment field about how to draw a large "audience." Man tends to do it with sensationalism and tricks. Christ used pure humility and love, and notice how well it worked!

Verses 4-9 - "Behold, a sower went forth to sow..."
Well, how does the greatest preacher of all time begin? He presents a simple little story that anybody could understand. It's about a farmer who plants some seeds. For various reasons some seeds grow well and others do not.

Verses 10-23 -"But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
Now the preacher is interrupted by a question from his own followers, the disciples. They're a little shocked. What is He doing? Why is he talking about farming? Why speak in parables to the crowd? They raise some good questions. I believe the parables are given because of the ignorance of the audience (and, really, us too). Christ isn't trying to be coy or sophisticated. Parables are the long way around a point or story, but if the listeners are currently incapable of understanding the plain facts, a metaphor, or simple illustration, is necessary. Maybe some thought Christ was kind of dumb or silly using these little stories about plants. But it is we who are the dumb ones and, believe me, He knows who He is talking to. I'm glad He keeps it simple. This is very crucial information, and I don't want to miss the point.

Now, sort of on the side, He stops and  plainly explains what the story of the sower means, but only to the disciples. This is the story of salvation by the Word of God and how men receive it. Everything in the story stands for a very important element of salvation. These elements interact uniquely in different circumstances. Salvation is by no means simple or automatic just because someone is exposed to God's Word.

Well, the disciples get to hear the direct spiritual version without the parable. You see, Christ counts them as ready to hear the truth. Why? What is the difference between them and the crowd? They had left all to follow Him. When you are ready to give your life to Him you are ready for His truths. Until then all you can handle is parables.

Verses 24-30 -"The kingdom of heaven is like..."
Another planting story. If you were God, how would you try to tell fallen man the mysteries of the end of time? Christ puts forth this little tale.

Verses 31-33 -"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven..."
Man, the stories are flowing now. and He's just warming up. Really, He's holding back so that we can catch up and catch on!

Verses 34-53 -"The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Once again a special "uncut" version for the disciples. Now we can see why He didn't just blurt out His points at the beginning. Who could comprehend this? Who could handle it emotionally? The truth about His Kingdom is overwhelming. Only a follower, only a disciple can understand and accept. Only the person who is ready to give all to Christ, and even then only by His grace.

Verses 54-58 -"He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
Now this sermon is over and the traveling preacher returns to His hometown. When He begins to speak out in the local temple, He is flatly rejected. They know Him and His family. He's just not that exciting to them. The humility and love of Christ doesn't impress them at all. They're not even ready to listen to simple parables.
                                                  May Jesus Christ richly bless you - JKD 9/25/99