He Speaks in Parables (By Chris Barnes)
Text: Matthew Chapters 13-14
OBSERVE: Throughout chapter 13 we see Jesus speaking to the people through many parables. Jesus begins with the parable of the sower, which depicts a farmer scattering seed which fell on different types of ground. This is followed by the parable of the weeds in which weeds grow amongst the good soil. The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast are next with both emphasizing the enormity of the Kingdom. The parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the great pearl displayed the great value of the kingdom of heaven. The parables in chapter 13 end with the parable of the net which resembles the parable of the weeds.
Chapter 14 tells us about two amazing miracles of Jesus. Firstly, we see the feeding of the five thousand in which Jesus multiples food for five thousand with just five loaves and two fish. This is followed by Jesus walking on water with Peter attempting to do the same.
INTERPRET: Jesus always used stories as illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled what God spoke through the prophet Asaph in Psalm 78: “O my people listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past, stories we have heard and known, and stories our ancestors handed down to us” (Psalm 78: 1-3).
Jesus spoke in this way to provoke the imagination of the people. He was sharing about his mission to bring about the Kingdom of God. The parables helped people hear that his kingdom was upside-down to many of their pre-conceived thoughts and notions. These truths would be concealed from many who would not try to understand. To understand these teachings they needed ears to hear.
APPLICATION: Jesus solves the riddle and answers the question left unanswered in Asaph’s psalm. “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world” (Matthew 13: 34-35). Jesus was the answer to Israel’s repeated disobedience, for his work gave the people hearts to want to obey. He is the culmination of Israel’s history, for it all has led to his coming. He is the fulfillment of God’s good intentions toward his people. He is the hidden secret, and he shares this secret with us as he reveals himself to us. The miracles that followed clearly reinforced what Jesus was teaching in the parables.
Today, we have access to both God’s Word and God’s Spirit to teach us. Even though scripture and the Spirit’s teaching are both very coherent, we often do not listen or obey. Without the openness to the Spirit’s guidance and teaching, God’s Word can often seem like a confusing parable. When we do open our ears to God’s Spirit, we then come to understand that Jesus is the answer to our repeated disobedience and he gives us hearts to want to obey. We see that Jesus is the culmination of God’s rescue plan for us as he has always been the fulfillment of God’s good intentions toward his people. Jesus is the hidden secret, and he shares this secret with us as he reveals himself to us. The greatest secret being the miracle he accomplished on the cross; for all who believe.
REFLECTION: Do you have ears to hear what God is saying and revealing to you?
PRAYER: Jesus; you have revealed to me the hidden lesson of Israel’s history as I see that you are where the story was leading all along. You have revealed the greatest mystery of all in what you accomplished at Calvary. Please continue to keep my ears open to hear your voice and may your Word always be a wonderful illustration to me. AMEN.
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.