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Summary: July 14, 2002 -- EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST --Proper 10 Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 Color: Green Matthew 13: 1-23 Title: “The Gospel is God’s favorite “joke,” to tell humankind.”

July 14, 2002 -- EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST --Proper 10

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Color: Green

Matthew 13: 1-23

Title: “The Gospel is God’s favorite “joke,” to tell humankind.”

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!"

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13The reason I speak to them in parables is that ’seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ 14With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:

’You will indeed listen, but never understand,

and you will indeed look, but never perceive.

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,

and their ears are hard of hearing,

and they have shut their eyes;

so that they might not look with their eyes,and listen with their ears,

and understand with their heart and turn--

and I would heal them.’

16But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 "Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.c 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."

Matthew has collected a series of parables and presents them as a single sermon, the third such one in his work.

Jesus’ claim that he was from the Father, that he was the long-expected Messiah, was not accepted by all Jews. By the time Matthew writes, that same claim has been translated to a larger context. On one level, most Jews still did not accept Jesus’ claims and teaching, even after the resurrection. On another level, those who did accept Jesus at first did not remain faithful in the long term. This problem, beginning with Jesus, continued in the early church and remains today. Those who do accept Jesus do not all remain faithful to him, his vision, his way of life.

Chapter thirteen, comes to grips with this issue. Matthew has assembled seven, or eight, of Jesus’ parables and presents them as if they were one continuous discourse, the third one of five such discourses in Matthew. The essence of Jesus’ whole point in being sent by the Father is captured under the rubric of “the kingdom of heaven,” Every parable but the parable of the sower begins with the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is like….”, a rich concept, an image really, around which are clustered the main themes of Jesus’ teaching. It has an “already,” here aspect and a “not yet,” fully realized, aspect. In almost defiance of western logic wherein something cannot be both true and not true at the same time, these two aspects are simultaneously true. That alone goes a long way in explaining why some accept Jesus’ teaching and claims of Messiahship and why some either do not or do not remain committed to him. The parables in this chapter spell out this conundrum in more detail.

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