Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God With Us, Kerygma materials, Chapter 9. Matthew Chapter 13. Jesus’ Parables about the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus here tells his disciples seven (or maybe 8) parables about the kingdom of heaven. The parables are interspersed with explanations to the disciples about the parables and discussions with the disciples about why Jesus speaks in parables.

The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with[d] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

.. . .

Three Parables

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Treasures New and Old

51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

 

Parables are lessons taught as stories using analogies drawn from ordinary life. Most of these deal with the ordinary lives of the disciples as farmers, merchants, fishermen or cooks. Many seem to deal with the demands and expectations of discipleship, and bringing about the kingdom of heaven. However the meanings can be ambiguous or uncertain.

 

Questions about these parables.

 

  1. What does it mean that the first sower sews the seeds in all kinds of soils, some of which are inhospitable?
  2. What does it mean that the second sower allows the wheat and weeds to grow and waits until the harvest to “judge” them? Are some people weeds and others wheat? Or do wheat and weeds appear in everyone’s lives?
  3. The mustard referred to here is believed to have a small seed but become more of large shrub. What is the meaning of the birds and their nests? What does this example say aabout the kingdom of heaven?
  4. That does the yeast do to the flour it is mixed with? What does that say about the power of the kingdom of heaven.
  5. What do the two “treasure parables” say to us about what is meaningful in life and how to react to it?
  6. In the fish net parable the angels are to come and judge the fish? Are people also supposed to judge others?
  7. “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” What do you think Jesus is saying here?
  8. What do each of these parables tell us about the kingdom of heaven and what we are to do with it as disciples?
  9. What do these parables say about the time of judgment?

Jesus explains his use of parables by saying “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 13, -12) What do you make of this? Are the rest of the people supposed to understand the meaning of the kingdom, or not to understand it?