The Kingdom Parables

by: Ronald L. Dart

Today I want to talk to you about the seven kingdom parables. They are found in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, and they are of singular interest, I think because, in a way, they provoke certain questions about the Kingdom of God that I don't know if we have really quite addressed.

For example, if I were to ask you, what would the Kingdom of Heaven be like? What would you say?" The fact is, if you went around to the churches in the community where you live, and you asked them, "What would the Kingdom of Heaven be like?" You'll get a surprising variety of answers, from streets paved with gold, a city whose foundations are of all precious stones and the gates are all one pearl. If you happen to go by another type of a church, they might very well tell you that the Kingdom of God is the rule of Jesus Christ on the earth for 1000 years and it's the government of God. It is time when God's government will be established here, and that the human governments will be put down and for that period of time, Jesus will reign on the earth and that's the Kingdom of God.

If you asked Jesus that question, you would have gotten a radically different answer.

The Seven Kingdom Parables

Now there are seven parables in this chapter. The first one doesn't start off by saying "The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto," but all of the rest of the six of them do. And because they have a common thread that runs through them, I think we need to deal with them as the seven kingdom parables or what will the kingdom of heaven be like?

Parable #1: The Sower and the Seed

In this 13th. chapter of Matthew, Jesus has gone out of the house and sat down by the seaside, and as is often the case, He is really not able to be by Himself for very long, when a multitude of people gathered around Him. So He got into a boat and sat and was pushed off the shore and the multitude all stood strung out along the shoreline. This made it rather easy for Him to speak to all of them as sound carries well over water.

Now in verse 2, "He spoke many things to them in parables saying, "Behold a sower went forth to sow.""

This parable is pretty well known to all of us. I know I have preached it again and again down through the years, and because it is so familiar and because we know Jesus' explanation of it, it is very difficult for us to understand or to grasp how this parable might fall on the ears of someone who was hearing it really for the first time and did not know the interpretation, and had no idea what Jesus was driving at.

Jesus goes on to say in this parable, "A sower went forth to sow, {4} And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up."

Everybody who has ever sowed seeds knows all about birds eating seeds. You will attract birds very fast.

Verse 5, "Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth, and they sprang up, because there was no depth of earth. {6} When the sun was up, they were scorched, because they had no root, they withered away."

This is another indication of what we get oftentimes with people who sprout up and look good, but they're not prepared for stress.

Matthew 13 verse 6, "And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. {7} Some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them {8} But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. {9} Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."

Now, Matthew does not follow through this second section in strict chronological order, because some commentators have noticed that Matthew tends to want to deal with things topically, rather than chronologically, and I have the impression just from reading through this, that the event that took place here is that Jesus got in a boat, pushed out from shore, and taught many things to them in parables and He taught this sequence of seven parables while He was in this boat. It was only after He came in and when they went into the house, that's when the disciples actually asked him for the interpretation of the parables.

Matthew topically, puts this particular point, right after the parable, because he feels that it's imperative to deal with it right up front so that his audience, his readers, understand what's going on here, because most people were brought up believing that, you go to Sunday school and your teacher says that Jesus spoke in parables to make His meaning clear and they think of the parable as though it were an illustration or an explanation or an analogy that is drawn. When we draw analogies we take things that are familiar to you and we compare it to something that is unfamiliar to you, to help you understand this thing that has previously been unfamiliar to you.

Do you understand the point of an analogy? It is to make something clear that you have not previously understood by using something that is familiar to you. Now up to a point that sounds reasonable, because sowers and seeds are familiar. This is an agricultural community, and they all understood the principle that was involved.

I can easily hear someone out there saying to themselves, that is a stupid way to deal with your seed, just casting your seed all over the place like that and not being careful where it falls. I would never put my seed out there like that, and of course, a smart man wouldn't, but this is not what Jesus is talking about sowing and seeds. He's talking about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

Godís Seed Can Fall Anywhere

God seems to cast His seed in such a way that it can fall anywhere. The first time I really thought deeply about this, I remember I was on a river trip and I was sitting there looking at a bluff, and there was a tree, a very substantial tree growing out of solid rock. And I thought, "What a strange place for a tree to be? How did that happen?" Well the seed blew there or a bird carried it there, but by one means or another it got there and the tree was growing. It was there for my enjoyment and edification as I looked up at the bluff for me to think about God's creation and at how things are.

Well, here are seeds that are scattered everywhere, and as a result of the seed being scattered everywhere, some of it is lost, some the birds get, some of it gets choked and some grows and can't stand stress, but some of it takes root and bears fruit and is effective. What's this all about?

You and I know because we have the explanation.

Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?

Verse 10 of Matthew 13, "The disciples came to Jesus and said, "Why are you speaking to these people in parables?"

Now this is a question that if the point of a parable was to make the meaning clear, the disciples would never have asked, the thought would not have crossed their minds, but the truth is, a parable is a pretty good synonym in their language and ours, if the truth is known, for a riddle. They wanted to know, and it makes sense if you put it this way, "Lord, why are you speaking of these people in riddles? Why are you giving them these stories and not explaining them? Why donít you give them an analogy in which the people are familiar and then compare it to what you're trying to get them to understand?"

Jesus made no such comparison. He left out the other side of the analogy, and consequently the truth was lost on the people to whom He was speaking. The disciples said, "Why are You doing this?"

Verse 11, "Jesus said to them, "Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given."

So, Jesus makes it really plain that He had absolutely no intention of making this plain to the multitudes, it was given to His disciples to understand it and it was not given to them, and even for His disciples to understand it, He had to give them the other side of the equation. Remember, an analogy takes a little story or an image or something with which you are familiar and you use that then by comparing it to something with which you are not familiar, so you will understand what is not familiar to you.

Jesus gave the multitudes the story. He gave His disciples the comparison to go with the story. The others, He gave them nothing.

Now this is really a surprising thing and it is not at all what I would have expected from Jesus as a result of expecting or thinking about His mission, thinking about what He was trying to do. You would have thought that He would have challenged their ignorance and made them understand, but He didn't.

Be Fair and Share

Now within that fact comes another fascinating concept about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like and the thread that runs right through these seven parables, which I will talk about, as we go along.

Jesus said to them in verse 12, "To Whoever has, will be given and he'll have more, and whoever has not, to him it will be taken away even what he has."

Now that doesn't make a lot of sense to us, because we have been brought up to believe that to be fair, you share equally. If you have an ice cream bar, you split it into two pieces and you give half to your friend. A candy bar you cut it in two pieces and you give half to your friend. We have the old method where one person cuts and the other person gets to make the first choice to ensure fairness.

This doesn't seem fair. Well, that's tough. God is sovereign and He can do what He wants to do and it is for you and I to figure out why it really is fair in the end. Maybe we will and maybe we won't, but we had better deal with it. You had just better deal with, because it's here.

"Therefore," verse 13, "I speak to them in riddles, because they seeing don't see and hearing they don't understand {14} And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, "By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive. {15} For this people's heart is waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes they have closed""

Who closed them? They have!

"Lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and should be converted and I should heal them."

They don't want it, and therefore, they are not going to get it.

"But," {16} "blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears for they hear. {17} And I am going to tell you the truth." Jesus said, "Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which you see and have not seen them, and to hear the things which you have heard and have not heard them."

That in itself is really remarkable, because what Jesus is telling these men is, that righteous men of old, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel and the others, really wanted to see things that they had seen and hear them, and they had not been granted that privilege. There is a progressive revelation of God as things become known to later generations that were not known before, and it is in God's good time and in God's good pleasure. He is sovereign. He will reveal them when He is ready and He will hold them back when He is not ready and there is not a thing in the world you or I can do about it.

Because getting more righteous doesn't get the job done. None of us are likely to exceed Daniel in righteousness and therefore be worthy of a greater revelation of God than was Daniel.

Parable of the Sower Explained

Jesus said, in verse 18 of Matthew 13, "Hear the parable of the sower, {19} When any man hears the word of the Kingdom and doesn't understand it."

Right off the bat we get a connection from this parable to the kingdom parables to follow. The only thing that is missing as I said, is that statement, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." The truth is, this parable, right along with the others is about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Verse 19, "When one hears the word of the Kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he who receives seed by the wayside."

The wicked one is the (birds) devil. The seed is the word of the Kingdom and the soil is people, like you, and there's no particular way of looking at the people, of really knowing what kind of soil they are. This is one of the interesting little differences between this parable and agriculture. In agriculture, you can tell good soil from bad, but with people, God can tell, I suppose, but there's no way you and I can tell, and therefore, our job is to cast the seed, to go out there and try our best to get it wherever we can get it, and in realization that some people are going to take it and some people are not, and it's going to have a lot to do with whether they are ready to open their eyes, or whether they are not ready to open their eyes, and the hardness of the human heart is one of the reasons why God does not speak plainly to man. It is because man has hardened himself and doesn't want it and there is no point in God giving it to him at a time like that.

Now Jesus goes on to say in verse 20, "He that received the seed of the stony places is he who receives the word and with joy receives it, {21} But he has no root in himself."

There's just not the character. There is not the desire. There is nothing more than the flash in the pan, the excitement over a new idea, a new doctrine much like the Athenians and he'll take the idea and run with it for a while, but it takes no root in his heart.

"He endures for a while but when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by, he stumbles and is offended."

And the truth is that the stress will come, in whatever form it is, it will come, and the person who does not have, and has not taken it to heart, the person who has not committed himself to it, the person who has not allowed it to take root in himself as opposed to merely being an idea, just simply will not hold up.

Verse 22, "He also receives seed among the thorns is he that hears the word and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

It is not at all hard to visualize the comparison that Jesus makes between receiving the word of God, and then going out in the community where there is every imaginable distraction, and they run from your job, to your family, to your hobbies, to whatever it is that you have chosen your lifetime to pursue. The cares of this world, the care of your lawn, your house, your land that you have and the more we aquire possessions, the more we have to worry about. The more we have to pursue and take care of and the cares of this world can begin to crowd out the word of God.

It does not take a lot of figuring does it? It doesn't take a lot of deep understanding to grasp that. Because the truth is that once Jesus explained it to the disciples, they said, "Oh, I see that." Just as I explained it to you, you can say, "Oh, I've experienced that, been there, done that, I really know how it affects my life."

Then Jesus says in verse 23, "He that received good seed of the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it, bears fruit and brings forth a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."

Fundamental Lesson: There are Different Kinds of People

Then Jesus proceeds on to another parable. But before we go on, let's pause and think about one of the fundamental lessons that is in this parable, and one I want you to watch for as we get into the other parables. One of the most striking aspects of this is, that there is an inevitable separation made between people. There are lines that are drawn and there are people who will stand on one side of the line and people who will stand on the other side.

The idea of the kingdom parables repeatedly is, there are different kinds of people. There are different responses from different people. There are different judgments therefore, that come down from God, and we are not all the same. The idea that we are all equal in God's sight has a marvelous appeal to it, but it is simply not true. The fact is that we all have God's love upon us equally, that's true. The fact is that God will treat all of us equally in the sense that we deserve this, that of the other thing and God treats is with fairness consistently, that's true, but the fact of the matter is, that we are not the same. Some of us are hardhearted. Some of us give more attention to the world than we do to God's word and we make choices. We make choices to pursue this, instead of pursuing that, and we don't make the same choices.

All Men Are Not Created Equal

You make your choices. I make mine, and those choices make a separation between us. There are some people who go after it, and among those who go after it, they bear fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold.

Depending on what? Depending on their choices. Depending on what they do, depending upon their talents and in that area we are not equal. There is one thing that is clear in the Bible, and that is, all men are not created equal.

Matthew 25, some people had the gifts of God, that were distributed to people according to their several abilities. One man got 1, One got 2, and one got 5, and so on it goes. So we're not equal. We are different. We not only are different in our native abilities, we are different in how we perform with our abilities. Some work hard, some don't. Some are energetic, some are not, and so on it goes through life.

So one thing that you can lay aside from your minds is that we are all the same pod and we are all going to same place. Sorry, NO! The Kingdom parables repeatedly draw out for us, something which we have a habit of forgetting is, there is a division among us, in God's eyes, even when we are under the same roof and that's a little bit spooky, from time to time. It's easy to understand that the division is made while we are all sitting here on the same planet, but when you start thinking about the division being among us even when we are under the same roof, that should be thought-provoking, that ought to make us give some thought to things that maybe we allowed to drift over on a back burner for a bit of time.

Parable #2: Kingdom of Heaven is like a Man who Sowed Good Seed in his Field

Matthew 13 verse 24, "Another parable Jesus put forth to them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man who sowed good seed in his field."

Now we have a little different approach to this. We are going to assume this is a good agriculturally oriented man. He has good seed, and he doesn't sow it everywhere, he sows it in his field. Okay.

Now he sowed good seed in his field, {25} "But while everybody was sleeping an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way, {26} And when the grain had sprouted and brought forth fruit, then appear the tares also. {27} And the servants of a owner came and said to them, "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? From where does it have the tares?" {28} And he said to them, "An enemy has done this." The servants said to him, "What do you want us to do? Pull them and gather them up?" {29} The owner said, "No, lest while you are gathering up the tares you root up the wheat along with it. {30} Let both of them grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, "I want you to first gather the tares, bind them in to bundles and burn them, and then gather the wheat into the barn.""

Now there is an explanation to come about this parable but it comes later after Jesus gets off the boat and Matthew covers it later, oddly enough in this particular passage, but by now we're becoming a little more astute, aren't we? We are beginning to realize, we had in the very first parable Jesus gave us here, a full explanation of that parable that explained about seed, and explained about the world, it explained about divisions in particular that are made and if there's anything that is clear in this parable, there is a distinction, a real slicing of the line between people. One of them is going to be burned, and the other one is not.

Now I'm very interested in which side of that equation that I am on in this case.

So you have wheat and an enemy that comes in and sows tares. Now the thing that I can kind of get from this is, that if the enemy is involved in this, then it is the devil, it certainly has to be the devil who is the adversary, who comes along and places and sows in and among the wheat and the good seed that God has, a bad seed, that is right there, along with it. Sometimes I guess by the time it actually grew up and started to fruit out, at that point they can sure tell which was which, because they could tell by the fruit of the things that was growing. So there was enough discernible difference between them that the servants could say, "This is a tare and this one is not. So what did they do? The owner said, "Let them alone."

"Let both of them grow together until the harvest, and then we will make the distinction and separation then."

So while there is a distinction to be made between two categories of people, the actual act of discrimination and of separation does not take place until the end. But again separation.

Parable #3: Grain of Mustard Seed

Now comes another parable right on the heels of this before Jesus gets to the explanation of it, but we will keep on taking this as it comes.

Verse 31of Matthew 13 says, "Jesus told them another parable saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field, {32} Which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so the birds of the air can come and lodge in the branches thereof.""

Now this parable doesn't seem to deal in a way with the idea of a separation or a division, but rather there are different images presented here. What is it? Now oddly enough there is no explanation given for this parable. There is no place where Jesus comes along and says, "Okay, this is the parable of mustard seed, here is the answer to that parable. So you and I are left to figure this out for ourselves.

Now there is a hazard I want to warn you all about, and that is, over interpreting a parable. I have seen people go out in such incredible links of finding some symbolism for every little possible word in a parable, and that is a mistake. What you really want to find is what is He driving at?

Well, there's one thing I think that comes about as result of this, that the Kingdom of God is a growing thing that starts very very small and becomes huge. That's simple enough. I got that. I think any one can read that and understand it.

Now how does that match with the conventional ideas of the Kingdom of God? For there is no idea that the heavenly Jerusalem that comes down is going to be a tiny, tiny, tiny thing, that will grow into a huge thing. This heavenly Jerusalem when it comes down is 1500 miles one way, 1500 miles the other and 1500 miles straight up. This is no mustard seed, nor does it really suggest to us that when Christ comes back, that His kingdom will be tiny and insignificant and that it will then go on and on into the Kingdom of God becoming bigger and bigger. No, no, no! When Jesus comes down, He puts down all governments, He smashes the opposition with a Rod of iron and the whole thing is established right now, full-blown, that doesn't match neither.

Now I am going to pause right here, to tell you, that we have a very bad habit, us theologians and amateur theologians, of taking very narrow views of things, and excluding everything else, because as we get into this we are inevitably as human beings clannish, and exclusivist and we want to get all of our ducks in a row. And if anybody doesn't have quite the same line up then they are not of us. They are of something else in this distinction. We have this idea that we have to have it exactly right and if anything is different from what we have must be in error, or wrong, or in a worst-case scenario, it's of the devil. It's Satanic.

What is a Kingdom?

The word 'kingdom' that is translated in both Matthew with his 'Kingdom of Heaven' and Luke with his 'Kingdom of God,' those words seem to be interchangeable between the two Gospels. The word 'kingdom' means literally 'reign or rule.' The problem when you use the word 'kingdom' and you substitute the word 'government' for it, which one of our church leaders did years ago, and he kept emphasizing that "Kingdom of God is the message of the government of God." Well, government means more than that. Government is really a system of rule, that oftentimes may involve captains of 50, captains of 100 and captains of a thousand. It involves sometimes hierarchical structure because somebody has to be in charge and you commission other people to do things. It is like you have the president, you have cabinet members, each of whom are with their own departments and they together form a government. Government conveys the idea of system.

Whereas in truth, the word 'rule of God' or 'rule of heaven' plainly doesn't immediately say that, it does not necessarily imply, all that the word 'government' implies, so when you come back to the expression 'the rule of heaven' or 'the rule of God,' and Jesus then comes up to a group of people and makes a statement, "The kingdom of heaven is among you," is that a big problem? Because He Himself is a part of that kingdom. He is a part of God. God has sent His Son into the world, and in that sense, the 'rule of God' has walked right in among them, and it is no difficulty then to realize that a person receives the Holy Spirit, and there is the 'rule of the Holy Spirit' in his life, then ' the kingdom of God' is in a sense, within him.

In spite of all of our fighting against that idea, that is not an untrue idea, but at the same time, there is a 'Kingdom of God' to come at the return of Christ, when He sets up a government and rules over the earth for 1000 years. That is also the 'Kingdom of God.'

And when the heavenly Jerusalem comes down upon the earth, this great city that is 1500 miles on both sides and 1500 miles straight up, with streets of gold and foundations of precious stones and gates of pearl, that's the 'Kingdom of God' too.

So let's not get ourselves in to narrowly speaking. The problem comes about when people try to make a Greek word in one place mean exactly the same thing every time is used in the Bible. It is not true. It is not true in English, it is not true in Hebrew and it is not true in Greek. You have to look at the context and ask yourself, "What is the man trying to say?'

So here's Jesus, who comes along and says, "The kingdom of heaven, the rule of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which is tiny to start with, but it grows and eventually fills the whole earth." How big was the presence of the rule of God on the earth in the first century? Very very small. It existed in the person of one, Jesus Christ, and from Him, it began to grow.

Now there are giant problems in saying that the Church is the 'Kingdom of God.' I wouldn't say that all and I would not even say that the church is the 'Rule of God' because by and large, the governmental structures existing in churches are governmental structures composed of men to whatever extent those individuals who lead that church are ruled themselves by the spirit of God. Okay, the 'Rule of God' is in that church, but that's not the same as saying that the Church is the 'Kingdom of God.' So let's come back to the kingdom parables again and see if we can kind a grasp what we are dealing with here.

The Kingdom of Heaven then is like something that starts off very very small and grows.

Parable #4: Kingdom of Heaven is Like Leaven

Matthew 13 verse 33, "Another parable spoke Jesus to them, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened."

You do understand that the leavened bread in those times was by and large sourdough bread.

When you get ready to make a loaf of bread, you get out all your ingredients, you make your flour and your dough and you grab your little starter and plop it down in the dough and you work the whole thing together and you put it away in a place that is the right temperature. What happens? Well, these spores grow out of the yeast and go into the entire loaf of bread. Eventually the sugar begins to interact and gases are created and the bread rises because it's a fermentation process and it has that delightful sour taste that sourdough breads has. You take off your dollop, put it away somewhere else and pop the dough in the oven.

The 'Kingdom of Heaven' is like that tiny little ball of dough, that you put into dough, and having put in there, it gradually spreads into the whole thing. The 'Kingdom of Heaven' once again starts small. The 'Kingdom of Heaven' once again spreads. In this parable it starts tiny and grows big and permeates everything, eventually.

This parable and the mustard seed parable present the Kingdom to us as a living, growing thing, which starts small and grows big.

Jesus says the 'Rule of Heaven' is like that.

I think both of these parable are very fascinating and they suggest a living, growing developing process that should be going on with the 'Rule of God.'

Now you can go back to that first seed in the first parable and the seed is like the 'Word of the Kingdom' that is planted in all of us to grow. You can go to the second parable, and the seed is actually planted in people and the people grow up like plants out of the ground and they are wheat, and of course tares are sown among them.

So you begin to realize that what we seem to be seeing here in the 'Kingdom of Heaven' parables is that the kingdom is like a system in which there are people being planted, growing and developing and multiplying. So the Church and the people of God spiritually becomes a larger and larger group until finally they become really quite significant at some point in time.

I think it is rather interesting to look at this and understand what is supposed to be taking place.

Now as we go on, there is more. Verse 34 says, "The 'Kingdom of Heaven' is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened." {34} Jesus spoke all these things to the multitude in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. {35} That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."

People did not understand this.

"Then,' verse 36 ,"Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house, and His disciples came to him, saying, "Declare to us the parable of the tares of the field.""

This sounds like you have a going and coming, going and coming, but I suspect it is about the same time as they asked about the other parables. The disciples said, "We really want to know about this parable."

Jesus said in verse 37, ""He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man." Now we understand that the sower, the real sower is Jesus Himself.

"The field is the world." Not the church, not anything like that, the field is the world.

"The good seed are the children of the kingdom." All of us would like to think of ourselves in those terms.

"The tares are the children of the wicked one, {39} The enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels."

Boy, you really have a comprehensive picture of this one, don't you? He doesn't leave any room to go wiggling around and hanging ideas or different ideas on different things.

"As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. {41} The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; {42} And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. {43} Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

Notice "in the kingdom of their Father." "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

So now we are back again to the theme. Matthew gives us the idea of the use of the spreading nature of the growing nature of the kingdom, and then he brings us back again to the idea of the separation, and the time of separation and the separation in this parable is just about as great as you can imagine it being. The one is gathered up and the other one is burned and turned to ashes. The other group shine forth for ever in the kingdom of their Father.

The Parables are About The Choices We Make

Now it seems apparent to me, as I read the parable, of Matthew 25, which also is about divisions between people. You have five wise the five foolish virgins that are divided. In the latter part of that parable you have the division between the sheep and the goats. Separation, separation, separation keeps cropping up again and again and again.

What you read in these parables having to do with separation is, it has a great deal to do with choices that you and I make. It is not a predestination thing. "Well I guess I'm just a tare and there is not a thing in the world I can do about it." If you are then I suppose there isn't. But at the same time, you keep going to other parables which say, "No, No," it is a matter of choice. There were five wise, and five foolish virgins in Matthew 25, and they made different choices. The one had prepared and took extra oil with them in their lamp. They actually thought about it ahead of time and they made a decision to take it. The ones that didn't take it with them, it says, you should've done it, because you didn't do it, this is where you are. You're locked out!

The parables that come later in Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats, Jesus said, {34} "Blessed are you, come enter into the kingdom of my Father," {35} I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, {36} I was naked and you gave me clothes, I was in prison and you visited me. And they said, "When did we do that?"" Verse 40, "The King answered and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.'

Then there were the goats who did not do these things and the separation is made on the basis of what they did and did not do. On the choices that they made.

What is the message? The message is that before you get home tonight you will make choices. When you get up in the morning you will make choices. You will make choices all day tomorrow and all day every day of the week. And upon those choices that you make, there is a separation made. Sorry about that, but it's very much a part of the teachings of Jesus and its something everyone of us really need to take seriously on our knees before God and talk to God about the choices that we're making in our lives. Here are separations on top of separations that Jesus talks about with His disciples

Parable #5: Treasure Hid in a Field

Let's go back to Matthew 13 and pickup at verse 44, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hid in a field, which when a man is founded he hides and for joy goes and sells everything he has, and buys that field."

I don't have a lot of trouble understanding this parable. The problem that we have is whether we really believe, whether we grasp the significance, whether we really appreciate the value of the Kingdom of Heaven, for indeed what Jesus is saying here is, if you do, it's got to be reflected in the choices that you make, and you can actually evaluate the value that you place on the Kingdom of Heaven right now, where you sit in your chair. You can actually sit down and make an evaluation of it based upon the choices that you have been making. Is it important to you? Or is it not? Does it matter? Or not? Are the cares of this world more important? Or aren't they? It is not hard to understand, but you do have to think about it, that is something we often loath to do. But if you will take some time and think, you should be able to evaluate how valuable the Kingdom of God is to you by the choices that you are making.

It seems to me to be the message of this particular passage.

Parable #6: The Pearl of Great Price

Continuing in verse 45 of Matthew 13, "Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking goodly pearls, {46} Who has found one pearl of great price went and sold everything he had and bought it."

The Kingdom of Heaven is worth everything you have! Do you think so? How can God tell? Or how can you tell?

These parables are here to help us to understand that there is a separation. The separation involves choices and we can know by the choices we have made where our real values are.

Parable #7: A Net Cast Into The Sea

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered in of every kind, {48} Which when it was full, they brought to the shore and they sat down and they gathered the good into vessels and they cast all the bad ones away. {49} So, shall it be at the end of the age. The angel shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, {50} And shall cast them in the furnace of fire, and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. {51} Jesus said to his disciples, "Now do you understand all these things? And they said, "Yes, Lord. We got it at last.""

Now what is rather funny about this, and it is sobering to say the least, this parable that Jesus explained to them later is about the Kingdom of God. Let's go back to verse 40, "As the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world, {41} The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity."

Gather out of where? His kingdom. Normally we would not have thought that those people would be there, but the message is that at one level, in one manner of speaking, that the righteous and wicked grow old together and that the wicked are among God's people, and therefore in that sense, because God's people are the children of the kingdom, they are in the kingdom. Not in the sense that you and I use the term of being in the kingdom in the resurrection, but among the children of the kingdom right now, because that's who we are. We are children of the kingdom, but not all.

Jesus, when His disciples were all together on the night of the Passover, said, "I don't speak of you all, because one of you will betray me, (John 13:21-30) and for the disciples there was no way looking around at His disciples to know which one it was by how he looked. It would have been a very difficult thing for a human being to know. The disciples didn't know. Each disciple asked Jesus, "Is it I?"

Now when I look at all of these parables and see what Jesus said to His disciples about them, and having asked them, ""Do you understand all these things?" And they said, "Yes, Lord.""

Let's continue in verse 52 of Matthew 13, "Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."

So here am I, as one, instructed in the kingdom as it were, bringing out of my treasure things old and new to present before you. The message that I hear from this that I think is important for all of you, is the Kingdom of Heaven is of such great value that I am utterly incapable of expressing it to you, making you understand the value of knowing what it is, and knowing the treasure that is there. I can try but candidly that is something I think that has to take place inside of you.

I come to you today to tell you that there are separations that are going to be made. Some have already been made. Some are being made and some will be made. All of those separations will be made on the choices that you are making in your life today and tomorrow and that you have been making.

I come to you today to tell you, you must not take a fatalistic attitude about where you are in relation to this, that I am a tare and I guess this is what I am and God's going to reject me. NO, that is not the message. The message is that you have choices yet to make, about what you're going to do and how you're going to live your life and about what is of real value to you.

You have choices to make about whether the values of the Kingdom are your values. Are the values that God holds your values, such as "Blessed is he that honors his father and his mother, his days shall be long upon the earth," is that a value that you hold? Do you share Godís values of the Kingdom? Will you remember the seventh day Saturday Sabbath day to keep it holy? Will you acknowledge who the sovereign is in your Kingdom by paying your tithes faithfully to that sovereign? Do you actually obey God in the things of holiness that He says are important to Him? These are choices that you have to make. You have made wrong choices in the past, but you can make different choices and you don't have to make the wrong choices tomorrow and the week after that.

Repentance is something that is always before us, but the separations are there. They have been made. They are being made and they are still to come. The stakes are the difference between incineration to ashes on the one hand and eternal life with God's power, God's love, with the beauty of shining forth forever and ever is there for those who see the Kingdom.

I think in a way, we may have approached the parable of pearl of great price and the kingdom of God from the wrong side, in the sense that we approach them to say, "Look how valuable the Kingdom is, you should go out and sell everything you have and buy that field," instead of coming to you and saying, "You can actually tell what the value you place on the Kingdom of Heaven is by the choices you have already been making. Maybe you just don't see, maybe you have not been able to see through. Maybe you have not been able to grasp what it is that Jesus is trying to say about the Kingdom, and if so, I don't know of any place for you to go except to the pages of your Bible. To go to God, to consider Him, to consider what He has done, what He is doing, what He has already done for you. The forgiveness that he has extended to you.

I don't know why it is but it is in us to assume that when we have made one decision, one choice, we're through making decisions. We have chosen to follow Christ. We have chosen to repent. We have chosen to be baptized. Now that we have make those choices, we don't have much more to do.

Like the woman who was talking about her salvation and said, "Oh that was all settled long ago." Well, one choice was made and settled long ago, but you will yet have choices to be made about obedience to God, faithfulness to Him, strive in the service of God that you still have to make.

"It came to pass," Matthew 13 verse 53, "when Jesus finished these parables, He left there. {54} He came into his own country and He taught them in their synagogues, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, "Where does this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? {55} Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother called Mary? Isn't His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? {56} And his sisters, are they not all with us? Where does He get off telling us these things?" {57} And they were offended at Him."

And they stumbled and were not able to grasp the significance of what Jesus was saying at all. Hard ground, stony ground, pavement, in fact, where the birds came and ate the seeds and carried them away.

Jesus went on to say, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own house, and in his own country. {58} He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

I was looking at that and I wondered, is that because their unbelief restricted Him? I don't think it really is, because the truth is that Jesus on several occasions bowls right over and pays no attention whether anybody believes or whether they don't. I think, He made a choice not to do many miracles there, because of their unbelief, which is different from saying, He didn't have the power because of their unbelief.

You are going to have choices to make and so is He. And His choice of whether to heal, to forgive, to perform miracles, to rescue, to save, is going to be based very heavily on your choices. Give it some thought and give it some prayer and set your life on the right path.

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This article was transcribed with minor editing from a

Sermon by Ronald L. Dart - Titled: The Kingdom Parables

12-28-96 96PAR

Transcribed by: bb 4/27/19

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