The Kingdom Of God
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
We are in the study of the gospel of Matthew…and this morning we are going to look at Matthew chapter 13.
- Matthew 13 is a chapter of parables…and more specifically it is a chapter of parables that all speak of the “kingdom of God” or the “kingdom of heaven”
- Back in chapter 3:2 John the Baptizer announced the coming of the “kingdom of heaven”…in chapter 4: 17 Jesus said that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now, here in Matthew 13 Jesus once again talks about the kingdom of God.
- He will tell us how to obtain it…He will tell us what to expect…He will tell us about its nature…and He will warn us about the danger of failing to be a part of it.
So, let’s look at these parables…we won’t have time to cover every lesson that is contained in them but we will cover those lessons that are primary.
Now, the first parable is very familiar to most of us…we often call it the “Parable of the Soils” or the “Parable of the Sower.”
- In the parable Jesus speaks of 4 kinds of soils or 4 places in which the “Sower” cast his seed.
- Some was sown beside the road…some fell on the rocky places…others fell among the thorns…and others fell on good soil.
But now look at verse 18. Jesus gives the explanation of the parable.
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, (the “word” is relative to the kingdom…it is what guides one into the kingdom of God…if you want to enter into the kingdom of God here is the instructions on how to get there) and does not understand it (this isn’t talking about not understanding what a verse might say. This is talking about someone who chooses not to understand it. It is the individual who is calloused against the word…who is unresponsive to it…who has no desire to know what the word means), the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it (he accepts it, he is open to it, he desires to know what the word means); who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
- Now notice in each example Jesus speaks of “hearing the word.”
- This parable is about “hearing” the word of the kingdom…and what each one does with that word when he hears it…how each one receives it.
And the primary lessons from this parable are three fold:
- First, not everyone that you share the word of God with wants it…and not everyone you share the word with will accept it…and some that you share the word with will eventually abandon it. But don’t let that keep you from sowing it!
- And the second lesson from this parable comes in the form of self-evaluation: What kind of soil are you? What are you doing with the word of the kingdom? How are you receiving it?
- And that is important because it brings us to the third important lesson and that is: Only those who are “good soil”…only those who have honest and sincere hearts…only those who accept the word and allow it to bring forth fruit in their life…only those individuals will obtain the kingdom of heaven.
Now, look at the second parable starting in verse 24: He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 “But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. 26 “But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 “And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 “But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. 30’Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘ ”
- Now this parable is not hard to understand because Jesus gives us the meaning. Look at verse 36:
Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He answered and said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 “Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
- I don’t know if you picked up on it or not but did you notice why it is important for us to teach our children about Christ….Jesus raises “good seed!”
- It is risky business to keep your sons and daughters from learning about Christ…to refuse to teach them. (I knew a couple that went to church with us and any time one of their kids got in trouble they grounded them from coming to church and participating in the youth activities).
- Teach a child, train a child, show a child Jesus and seldom will a child grow up to be a “bad seed.”
Now, there are a couple more lessons from this parable to learn:
- We as Sons of the Kingdom are to co-exist in the field with the sons of the evil one.
- And we are not to carry out an “inquisition” against them…we are not to pluck them out of the world. (Like we see some radical Muslims are attempting to do).
- Our mission is not one of judgment but to be “the light of the world and the salt of the earth.”
- We are not to withdraw from the world into isolation…go into some monastery…but we are to strive to teach them and bring them to Christ.
- If we were to try and eliminate the tares we very well could destroy the wheat in the process. ( I mentioned the radical Muslims who try to eliminate those they consider to be infidels…other Muslims are repulsed by their actions…that is one way we could pluck up the wheat.)
- And then there is the lesson of the judgment…those who are stumbling blocks and who are lawless will be cast into the furnace of fire where there will the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- And again, the all important lessons comes in the form of self-evaluation: Which are you, a tare or good seed? (It is not too late to change.)
Now, look at verse 31: He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
- I don’t know that I have ever seen a mustard seed but Jesus says it is the “smallest in the field.”
- But then when you plant it and it is full grown it is “larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree!”
- And I think that what Jesus is saying at least in part is “never underestimate the great things that can come from small, seeming insignificant beginnings.”
- And I believe that is especially true when you plant the seed of the kingdom of heaven in someone’s heart…that seed has the potential to grow into something more glorious than you might have ever imagined.
- You can look around you in this room and see the evidence of this in several who are seated here this morning. (One seed is hardly a fitting meal for a bird, but if planted it has the power to feed a nation. It is up to us to plant that seed.)
More than likely though, what Jesus is doing here in this parable is teaching His disciples that His Kingdom will be glorious in spite of its weak, despised meaning.
Look at verse 33: He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.”
- I don’t know much about “leaven’.
- But what Jesus seems to be saying here is “You add just a small amount of the kingdom into the hearts of people and you cannot stop where it spreads to.
Jesus told two more parables starting in verse 44:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
- A couple of years ago I thought that a boat would bring me great joy…so I bought one.
- Now, I didn’t sell all that I had to get it but I did spend a few dollars on it…and it did…it brought us some great joy…until it blew a piston and ruined the power-head.
- Now it is going to cost more to fix it than it is worth…and because of that I have no more joy…at least not from the boat.
Jesus’ point here is the kingdom of heaven is worth all that you possess…even life itself…and it will bring you joy that will never fade away.
And now verse 47: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- What would you consider to be a “bad fish”? A Carp? A Gar? A “hard head?”
- What kind of fish would you consider yourself to be? Are you a big mouth bass? How about a sunfish or a perch…always nosing around? A shark…a predator? A Grouper?
- I think that is one of the primary lessons of this parable…to make us give some thought to the kind of fish that we are?
But this parable also speaks of the final judgment.
- And whether you are a good fish or a bad fish will not change after you are judged.
- There will be no second chances.
So, what has Jesus taught us?
- Not everyone is going to accept the “word of the kingdom.”
- Only those who do accept it will be “in the kingdom.”
- We need to learn of and teach our children to follow Christ because He produces “good seed.”
- We are to co-exist with the “tares” in this world and it is not ours to conduct an inquisition.
- Neither are we to withdraw ourselves from the “tares” of the world.
- We need to, while we have time, decide if we are a “tare” or “good seed.”
- Glorious things come from small beginnings if we will only plant the seed.
- You plant the kingdom in the hearts of a few and you never know where it will go to.
- The kingdom is worth all that you have including life itself.
- What kind of fish are you?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023