Summary: Today we have the first occasion where Matthew uses the word parable. And, as we have seen in the past, the first time that something occurs in the Bible is very important to note and pay special attention to.
The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like… – Part 1
The Parable Of The Sower And The Seed
The very first phrase of the first verse of our passage today says a great deal about our Lord and His approach to ministry.
We have already seen what a full day He has had. We know from the flow of the last chapter and from the corresponding passages in the gospel of Luke, that from the point where Jesus casts out the demon that has made a man blind and dumb, through His interchange with the Pharisees about blaspheming the Holy Spirit, His admonition to those gathered about the accounting we will all give for the words we have spoken in this life, His warning about those who search for miraculous signs instead of listening to the testimony of Jesus, to the point where we are now in the narrative, Jesus has taught, ministered and done verbal battle without a break.
In our study of Matthew 12 over the past several weeks, we have gotten a sense that all of this occurred on the same day. Morning and evening, He is teaching, ministering, working for the Lord. You know, that is one of the primary reasons that the early Church, as recorded in the book of Acts and a predominant practice clear up until the last several years, met and had “services” both morning and evening – they were following the example laid out before us right here in this section of Scripture.
The text often quoted when someone chaffed against “doing church” twice on Sunday was Ecclesiastes 11:6; “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” Something to think about.
At any rate, as I said, Jesus has taught, ministered and done verbal battle without a break. Now He steps outside, perhaps saying hello and chatting briefly with His family on the way out, and walks to the banks of the Sea of Galilee.
The crowd following Him on His little walk is enormous (“And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. Matthew 13:2).
He has things He needs to say. Important things; a great many things, as Matthew tells us in verse 3, “And He spoke many things to them in parables…”
How “many things” we do not know, but we know from what the Scriptures tell us in several other places that only a few of the things that Jesus did and taught were recorded for us in the gospels.
Remember John’s statement at the very end of his gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written.”
Now here we have the first occasion where Matthew uses the word parable. And, as we have seen in the past, the first time that something occurs in the Bible is very important to note and pay special attention to.
We’ve already seen how important words are to Jesus. Jesus spoke a great deal, and every word had weight and significance. His parables exploit His deep, intuitive understanding of the heavenly and the earthly, the spiritual and the physical, the supernatural and the natural.
Parables explain the things of God by using the truth of everyday things that we can understand and relate to as a point of delineation. The most amazing aspect of Jesus’ parables is the exact matching of characteristics that takes place in them between the heavenly and the earthly.
What I mean is this: when Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like…,” we know we are going to look at the characteristics of something that is natural in our world and be able to see those characteristics paralleled in that which is natural in the spiritual realm of God’s kingdom.
There are very real differences between parables and allegories, and it is important that we know what those differences are. One of the fundamental reasons we need to know and understand the difference between the two is that many a false doctrine has sprung up from the allegorizing of a parable.
So, what are the differences? First, let’s look at the two words and what they mean.
A parable is the placing side by side or comparing the earthly truths expressed with the heavenly truths to be understood. The starting point of Christ’s parables is that man is made in the image of God, and that there is a God-ordained and God-created continuity between the human and the divine. The strength of Christ’s parables lies in the very real connection imprinted by the Creator on His creatures, the physical characterizing and demonstrating the higher spiritual and moral world.