Lesson 46: Jesus Taught in Parables
Matthew 13:10-23, Mark 4:10-20, Luke 8:9-15
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to Lesson # 46. We read the parable of the sewer in Matthew, Mark and Luke near the end of our last lesson. Wheat was Jesus teaching out of that little ship? What i s the divine principle behind that parable? We have to be very careful at this point NOT to invent some little cute explanation that gives it the slant WE WANT. We must be honest enough and detective enough to seek the doctrine that Jesus was teaching. Otherwise, we might do violence to the kingdom as Jesus said some at that time were doing. Let's read two more verses i n LUke, ch. 8.9-10. Are you ready? "And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this p arable be? And he said/ Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." So, what might this parable be? I'm sure glad they asked that question; because, I need a little help too. Now, here is something that is simply amazing. Jesus' teaching was designed in such a way that Jesus could teach the spiritually minded person, right in the presence of the worldly minded; his disciples would be taught and edified while the enemies of Jesus MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND. Look at the end of v.10, "hearing they might NOT understand." The Bible is very much like this; some people read i t and it speaks to their heart, the inner-man. Others read it like mythology or just another p age of history. Some even speak of it's great literary quality and they are atheists. Jesus was just another man to them. Coded into the words of Jesus in the Bible is a message that speaks to the man of faith. Yet, that message is not perceived, believed, or appreciate by the non-spiritual.
In Matthew's record Jesus described this in greater depth. Let's read Matt. 13:10-17. "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto the, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is
not given. For whoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, form him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their eyes, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and h ave not heard them."
Now, notice some key phrases in that reading, "but to them it is NOT given." (end of v.ll), "neither do they understand." (end of v.13). Then in v.14-15, consistent with Matthew's reporting, Jesus said this principle was recorded in the O.T. (Isaiah 6). But, then look at the assurance that Jesus gave his disciples, "But blessed are YOUR eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." Did these disciples understand? They had just asked the question: "What might this p arable be?" (Luke 8:9). They DID NOT understand. But, the point is that Jesus explained the parable of the sower to the disciples in private and then they understood. The reason they did not understand is the same reason that you and I don't understand these parables at first. We must have a KEY to a parable before we can understand it. It's like trying to read a road map, without a key. What do all those little colored lines, dots, squares, triangles, circles, etc. mean on a road map? It usually doesn't mean much until we find that little key up in the corner that defines these symbols. Then, you can interpret the road map. You see, Jesus gave the KEY to the parable of the sower in his explanation; which we haven't read-yet. But, before we read that explanation, let's read a few more verses, Mark 4:10-13. Are you ready? Mark ch. 4, beginning in v.10. Let's rea"d! "And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these tilings are done in parables: that seeing they might see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?" Alright, take just a minute and tune this one in close. What do the two questions in v.13, we just read, imply? There is a technique or methodology by which you can know ALL PARABLES. And, THIS parable demonstrates that technique. So, hang on to this my friend. You see, the Bible interprets itself. There is a key to every parable and every scripture. There's no great mystery about it; but, when you learn the key, you can understand the passage. For example, the book, of Revelation is written in symbolic language. Isn't that another way of saying: parables? Want to know what it means? Well, learn the technique demonstrated here! Matt. 13:12 said: "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: But whosoever hath NOT1, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." Now, hang on to something here; every passage means the same thing to every man once he has the key to that scripture and properly applies it. I got SO disgusted with those people who say, "that passage means thus-and-so to me." Implying it may mean something else to somebody else. What would it mean if they were dead? Would that change it? Obviously not! The Bible would still say just what it says. One of those men standing right there, the apostle Peter, said, at a later time: "knowing this first,that NO prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (II Pet. 1:20). Jesus himself said here in Mark 4:12 that you can have eyes to see and ears to hear and still not understand. You see, the more you study and the more you get; the more you'll be given and your faith will grow and grow. The same formula applies to every man; for that same apostle Peter said, in Acts 10:34, "God is no respecter of persons."
Alright, we're ready to read Jesus' explanation. Let's take Luke first, Luke 8:11 beginning. Please read as Bill reads. See if you can identify those keys of interpretation as we read. Are you ready? V.11-15. "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard/ go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
O.K. did you find any keys? In v.ll, Jesus said, "The seed is the word of God", i.e. seed equals the word. Why not write that in the margin of your Bible there? Then #2 isin v.12, wayside = they. They? i.e. PEOPLE that hear but DO NOT obey. Then #3 is in v.13. They on the rock = people. People who believe and DO OBEY for a time, THEN backslide. (#4) is in v.14, "That which fell among thorns are THEY", (that is) PEOPLE! What kind of people? People that hear and go forth. In other words, people who hear God's word, they obey it; but "bring no fruit to perfection." That is simply saying; they never mature spiritually. They don't backslide exactly, they don't doe out; but they simply don't mature as a disciple. Why? The answer is in the middle of v.14: They "are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life." Sound familiar? Jesus sliced it right down the middle. Then finally Key # 5, they on the good ground are PEOPLE. People with, honest and good hearts, do you see that in the middle of v.15? They hear the word, they believe the word, they obey the word, and they mature into fruit bearing Christians. Do you get it? Be sure to make the association of good and honest hearts with the inner-man principle that Jesus gave in the sermon on the mount. My friend, these parables BLOOM, once we understand them. And, once we START1 understanding more and more opens up. Jesus said, "whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance..." (Matt. 33:12). You see, this has to do with our knowledge and understanding.
O.K. let's see if we can milk anything ELSE from Matthew or Mark. Let's read Matthew first. Ch. 3, beginning in 18. It ends in v.23. Let's read! "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and taketh away that which was sown in his heart, This is he which received seed by the wayside. But hoe that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy recieveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit; and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." O.K. hold a finger there; but, let's read Mark. Seven verses. Mark 4:14-20. Have you got it? Let's read. "The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sowen on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns, such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of others things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."
O.K. what's the divine principle that Jesus taught? First of all, he taught the apostles to interpret parables, yes. But, what was the divine principle embedded in the parable of the sower? Back up now, and take a fresh look. John came preaching, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus went about all Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 4:17). We learned that the sermon on the mount was saturated with the Kingdom idea, "Seek ye first the kingdom..." (Matt. 6:33). Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come..." (Matt. 6:10). This was the very heart of Jesus' teaching. What was Jesus teaching the apostles here in this parable? Look at v.10 in Luke's account, "the mysteries of the kingdom of God." It was Jesus' public message, it was Jesus' private message to the apostles, the kingdom, the kingdom, the kingdom. It was their curriculum because it was the basis of that good news called the gospel. They were to seek to enter the kingdom and they were to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom. Jesus' parables taught about the kingdom that was coming. Seven parables of Jesus are recorded in Matthew ch. 13. Turn there a minute! We've already read the parable of the sower In Matt. 13:19, Jesus said that the seed in that parable was, "the word of the kingdom." Then down in v.24, Jesus gave another parable. It starts like this in v.24, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto..." So, you can see that parable is describing the kingdom that was coming. Another parable starts in v.31, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." So, guess what that parable is about? V.33, another parable! And, guess HOW that parable begins, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto...". Down in v.44, Jesus gave another parable. Look at it! "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto..." V.45 is another parable. Guess what that parable is about? You got it! "Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto..." In v.47, guess what. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto..." Do you see that? What was Jesus teaching? What did Luke say at the beginning of ch. 8 that Jesus went throughout every city and village teaching? "the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.." So, the divine principle in the parable of the sower was a description in prophecy of that kingdom that was future to them. Now, Itrust you understand, the word "kingdom", as used here, is later in the N.T. used synonymously with the word "church." There are many other synonymous terms: the sheepfold, the body, the vineyard, the bride of Christ. It all comes down to the same thing. Jesus' kingdom started on the day of Pentecost about two years after the time we're discussing here. (See Acts ch. 2) In Acts 20:28 Paul said Jesus purchased the church or kingdom with his own blood. It's the thing for which Jesus ultimately gave his life, two years later. Acts 2:47 identifies those added to this church or kingdom as the saved. Now, can you think of ANYTHING that would have been more natural for Jesus to have taught the crowds of Galilee? Can you think of ANYTHING more natural for Jesus to have taught the apostles? The answer is NO! and the answer is NO! And when we apply that question to ourselves the answer is still NO! Can you see how important it was for Jesus to teach about the kingdom? Jesus said in Matt. 11:12 some were treating that future kingdom with violence. You see, they misunderstood the kingdom. It's sad, but THE TRUTH IS that the same thing is happening even today, almost 2000 years later. So, these things are as important for our generation AND for our understanding as it was for the people of Galilee. Jesus' parables are just as fresh as ever. They can bloom for YOU, just like they bloomed for the apostles and the people of Galilee who listened. And in all three accounts, Jesus closed the parable with these words. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." What did Jesus mean? It's the most important thing you'll ever hear. The. kingdom of Jesus or the church that Jesus purchased with his own blood, there are between 300 and 1000 organizations in the United States today who claim to be that church, they teach very conflicting doctrines. How can we identify Jesus' kingdom? Jesus gave some of the characteristics of his church in these parables about two years before that kingdom came into existence. We'll continue in lesson # 47. Until then, have a good day!