Fall-Winter 31AD

The Kingdom of Heraven Parables

The religious leaders of Israel had now rejected Jesus as King and Messiah. Most of His ministry would now be done outdoors, and, as a method of teaching, He used a series of parables. His disciples questioned His use of the parables and He gave three reasons for using them. He used them to reveal the truth, to hide the truth, and to fulfill prophecy (Matthew 13:10-16; Isaiah 6:9-10).

Parables can be used to illustrate the truth of scripture, and we want to see the primary meaning of the parables. If we lose sight of the primary meaning we may not understand what Jesus is teaching and go off into error. The parables then must be seen in their context to the kingdom, and not to the church. Their primary application is to the kingdom of God and Israel. The parables cover a time from the rejection of Jesus to His second coming, when Israel will accept Jesus as their Messiah. The parables can be used to illustrate many things, but in this article we will not address anything other than the primary meanings. We can make many applications of the kingdom of heaven parables but their primary application is to the kingdom of God and Israel.

The New Testament mentions the word 'mystery' which is not something mysterious, but is something that was not revealed up to this time. Jesus explains this in Matthew 13:35. The kingdom itself was not a mystery, it was revealed in detail in the Old Testament.

What wasn't known in the Old Testament was that the kingdom would be rejected. Then there would be a delay, from the offering and rejection of the kingdom, to the setting up of the kingdom, and the Day of the Lord would bring in the kingdom. So, the parables are not talking about a mystery kingdom, nor a spiritual kingdom, but a delayed kingdom. Then, too, if we say the kingdom of heaven on earth is the church, we do not understand the truth of God's Word.

The Parable of the Sower

After Jesus gave the parable of the sower, He gave the interpretation of it, beginning in Matthew 13:19. Notice, the word that was sown was the word of the kingdom. He said the word would be received in different ways. Satan would catch away the word that was sown preventing some from responding. Some would receive it with joy, but when trouble or persecution comes they are offended. Others fail to believe because of the cares of this world. A minority of the people who hear the word of the kingdom would respond to it (Matthew 13:19-23).

The Parable of the Seed

Explaining the kingdom of God, Jesus said it is like a seed cast into the ground (Mark 4:26). Compare this to John the Baptist planting the seed of "the word of the kingdom." Once a seed is planted, from all outward appearance, may be dead, since it is hidden from us.

Jesus indicated that after a little time, the seed would spring up and grow. It will grow from a sprout and bring first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. It is then ready to harvest (Mark 4:27-29). Similarly, the seed of "the word of the kingdom" that John the Baptist planted didn't bring an immediate response, nor did it bring in the kingdom. However, with time, the kingdom would come forth and grow into a powerful kingdom that would control all kingdoms of the earth, the millennial kingdom of Christ.

The Parable of the Tares

The parable of the tares can be seen in Matthew 13:24-30. However, the Lord has also interpreted this parable in Matthew 13:36-43. In His interpretation, we see that Jesus Himself is the sower of the good seed, which are the sons of the kingdom. It is the wicked one, Satan, who sows the tares, which are the children of the wicked one, Satan. There will come a time of judgment before the kingdom is set up, and that can be seen in the short study of the Judgment of the Nations.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

This parable continues the teaching of the Parable of the Seed. It shows that the kingdom began in a small way, with the preaching of John the Baptist (Luke 16:16), will eventually become the kingdom of God, with

Christ as the King in the millennial kingdom (Matthew 13:31-32).

Then He told them that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal (one measure is equal to 8 dry quarts, or 537.6 cubic inches 8.810 liters)", till the whole amount was leavened (Matthew 13:33). As it takes time for the leaven to work in the dough, it takes time from the time the kingdom is announced until it is finally set up. Leaven here can not mean evil or sin, as some teach. Leaven is not always used as sin or evil. If leaven was sin or evil, the kingdom would be entirely evil and sinful, and we know that won't happen. Leaven here simply means a growth until the kingdom is set up.

As we look at Daniel 2:35, we see this same picture. The stone that smote the image became a great mountain (kingdom), and filled the whole earth. The coming of Jesus Christ who is the stone, will be to judge His enemies and establish His Kingdom, and it shall stand forever.

The Pearl of Great Price

In this parable, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant, seeking goodly pearls. When he found them he sold all he had and bought them. This man was seeking pearls, and when he heard the word of the kingdom he realized how valuable it was and sold all he had (Matthew 13:45-46). This value is hidden from those who do not believe (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The Parable of the Net

This parable is a story about some fishermen and a fisherman's net that gathers out of the sea all kinds of fish, both good and bad, small and great. The fishermen cast the net over the side of the boat and drag it on the bottom where it gathers all kinds of fish. They take it ashore and sort the fish, keeping the good and getting rid of the bad (Matthew 13:47-48).

To get a picture of this we can see the net as the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom drawing men to God. The sea would be like the world in which man lives, full of sin, error, wickedness. In the end of the age all men are drawn out of this world and will be judged, the true Christians being kept and taken to heaven, with those who did not accept Christ being cast into hell. This judgment at the end of the age is explained in our article on the Judgment of the Nations.

The Parable of the Householder

A scribe who is a disciple of the kingdom and a student of Scriptures, will bring both old things, or prophecies, about the kingdom, and add them to the new things now revealed (Matthew 13:51-52). In all these parables we have seen the prophecy of a kingdom, and in these parables we see a new thing that is added that the Old Testament prophets didn't see, and that is because of the rejection of the King, there will be a delay in the setting up of the kingdom.

This present time on earth is a preparation for the kingdom and Jesus Christ is sowing seed, preparing sons of the kingdom for His future kingdom (Matthew 13:37-38). Even so, Satan is still allowed to develop evil in this present world (Matthew 13-38-39). God will eventually separate the good from the bad at the end of the world (age) (Matthew 13:41-43; 13:49). This is similar to the Parable of the Net and the judgment at the end of the age, The Judgment of the Nations.

Summary of the Kingdom of Heaven Parables

These parables tell us of what the kingdom of heaven is like, not the church, since the church is not in existence at this time. The disciples needed to understand that Jesus would be mostly rejected, then He could tell them about His coming death, burial, and resurrection. He could then tell them about the calling out of a people to form His church and His second coming. So what do each of these parables tell us about the kingdom of heaven?

The parable of the sower shows us that the kingdom of heaven was preached and accepted by only a few. The parable of the tares shows us that the enemy will work till the end, and then there will be a time of judgment.

The parable of the mustard seed and leaven show us that the kingdom will get off to a slow start, with most rejecting it. After a time, many will accept the kingdom teaching and it will become the mighty kingdom of God, in the millennial reign of Christ.

The parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price show us how valuable it is to the one who accepts it and understands it.

The parable of the net tells us judgment will come at the end of the world.

The Stilling of the Tempest on the Sea

When Jesus made the decision to go to the other side of the sea, there came a great storm. The waves beat against the sides of the ship, and splashed over into the ship, so much that is was nearly ready to sink. Jesus was asleep, and when they woke Him they told Him they were about to perish. Jesus arose and rebuked the wind, the wind ceased, and there was calm. The men on board the ship were amazed. They marveled because the winds and the sea obeyed Him. Only God can control the wind and sea by speaking words (Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41).

Demon Possessed Man and the Swine

When Jesus arrived at the other side of the Sea of Galilee, there was a demon possessed man that met Him. He came from the tombs and he had an unclean spirit so that no man could bind him, not even with chains. He was always in the mountains and tombs, crying and cutting himself with stone (Mark 5:1; Matthew 8:28; Luke 8:26-27).

We can learn several things from this incident. First, the demon recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Next, we see that the demon was aware of his coming torment in the lake of fire (Matthew 8:29; 25:41; Luke 8:28; Mark 5:7).

We can also see demons can cause a possessed person to have great strength to do evil and unnatural things (Mark 5:3-5; Luke 8:27-29). More than one demon can possess a man and in this case there were many (Luke 8:30; Mark 5:9).

When Jesus asked them to come out, they wanted to be cast out into the body of the nearby swine. If they can't inhabit mankind, they have the desire to inhabit animals (Matthew 8:30-32; Mark 5:8-13; Luke 8:31-33).

The man who had the demonic spirits was then told to go to his own home, to his friends, and tell them what the Lord had done for him. The man with leprosy, who was healed earlier in the ministry of Jesus, and told to go to the priests, disobeyed Jesus but this, formerly demon possessed man, obeyed the Lord. When everyone heard what happened, they marveled, but the local people asked the Lord to leave. The owners of the swine valued their swine more than the healing of the demon possessed man. Jesus and His disciples then left and returned to Capernaum (Mark 5:19-21).

Miracles Performed in Capernaum

When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, one of the rulers, Jairus, came to Him and asked Him to heal his daughter. He said that she is near death, and if Jesus would come and lay His hand on her she would live (Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:21-23; Luke 8:40-42).

As Jesus went, there was a great number of people that followed Him. One was a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years, and though scripture does not tell us what the ailment was, evidently her condition grew worse. She had heard of Jesus, and thought if she could just touch His garment she would be healed. When she managed to get close enough, she touched the border of His garment and she was instantly healed. Jesus now wanted to know who had touched Him, and why. Finally, the woman fell down before Him and told Him it was her, and how that when she touched His garment, she was immediately healed. Jesus told her to be of good comfort, for her faith has made her whole. It was not the touching of the garment that healed her, but her faith in the One who wore it (Luke 8:43-48; Mark 5:23-34; Matthew 9:20-22).

Then there came a man from the ruler of the synagogue's house, and he said your daughter is dead, why bother the Master any further. Jesus told the ruler of the synagogue, whose name was Jairus, to not be afraid, only believe, and his daughter would be made whole (Mark 5:35-36; Luke 8:49-50). When Jesus came to Jairus' house, the people were upset because Jairus' daughter had died. Jesus told them that she wasn't dead, but was only sleeping. The people laughed at Him, but Jesus went in and took her by the hand, and Jairus' daughter arose. They were all astonished (Mark 5:39-42; Luke 8:51-56; Matthew 9:23-26). This was the second time Jesus had restored someone to life.

As He left Jairus' house, there were two blind men who called out to Him to have mercy on them, calling Jesus the Son of David. Thus, they acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah that was to come, the King that would sit on David's throne and rule forever. Jesus said to them, "According to your faith be it done to you." Their eyes were opened, and though Jesus asked them not to spread this abroad, they disobeyed (Matthew 9:27-31). As Jesus was going out they brought a man who was unable to speak , and possessed with a devil, to Jesus. Jesus freed him from the demon, and the multitude marveled. However, it is important to note that the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, still rejected Jesus and said He cast out the devils by the prince of devils (Matthew 9:32-34).


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