Matthew 13: Jesus, the Greatest Storyteller Speaks in Parables to Bring the Kingdom to Us

As a marketing consultant, I advise my clients to tell stories. Storytelling is one of the best marketing strategies around. Jesus was a great storyteller, thus a great marketer. What was He marketing? Well, the Kingdom of God and salvation — the Good News. Here in Matthew 13, we have several parables — stories. Jesus uses them to reveal truths about the Kingdom of Heaven. Some He explains and some He leaves for the people — and us — to figure out for ourselves. Now, I covered one of these in the Gospel of Luke series and I will direct you that post rather than repeating myself. I will, however dig deeper into ones that Luke missed or that I’ve learned the real meaning of. Let’s dig in…

Matthew 13

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
    and let me heal them.’ [Isaiah 6:9-10]

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What Kind of Soil are You? Luke 8

Again Matthew, who’s writing to Jews, brings up a prophecy of Isaiah which described what Jesus, the Messiah would be doing. He called it! The question that Matthew wants us to think about in this chapter is that if Jesus is the Messiah, why can’t everyone see it? It’s because we still have the problem of hardened hearts — people who hear the truth of the Good News of Jesus’ true salvation and don’t really listen and understand. Fourteen times in the New Testament, Jesus says…

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

Revelation 3:22 NLT

Are YOU Listening?!

Parable of the Wheat and Weeds

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

I’m going to skip down to Jesus’ explanation of this parable.

Parable of the Wheat and Weeds Explained

36 Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”

37 Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one (Satan, the devil). 39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world (or the age), and the harvesters are the angels.

40 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

God knows the good seed. He knows and exposes our hearts. He’ll deal with each person in exactly the right way. Keep this mind for when we get to Matthew chapter 25.

Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

The Birds in the Mustard Tree

This is one of the best explanations of this parable that I’ve ever heard. I’ve set it to start where he tells the meaning, but I encourage you to watch it from the beginning…

Parable of the Yeast

33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

34 Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. 35 This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet:

“I will speak to you in parables.
    I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.” [Psalm 78:2]

In the Bible, yeast usually represents sin and that’s the problem with it. It only takes, like yeast in dough, a tiny little bit to “infect” the whole bowl of flour. Or a whole congregation. On the other hand, if we see the yeast as truth, that’s what needs to infiltrate a church and impact it for the better.

Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

These two seem similar, but they have important differences. In the first one, the man finds the treasure by accident. In the second story, the merchant is diligently seeking. The idea is recognizing the value of the “pearl” or the “treasure” in the Good News of Jesus’ true salvation.

You could be anywhere and someone shares the Good News with you. Or you can be earnestly seeking for truth in your life and discover it that way. Again, the importance is recognizing the “great value” of the Good News and giving up your old, sinful life to obtain it. That’s called repentance — doing a complete 180 degree turn in your life and start following Jesus.

Parable of the Fishing Net

47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. 48 When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, 50 throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Do you understand all these things?”

“Yes,” they said, “we do.”

52 Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

This one is similar to the wheat and the weeds. We can even go back to Matthew 3, when John the Baptist told of what would happen once Jesus, the Messiah came to separate the wheat from the chaff. The message is still the same. Again, watch for this later in Matthew 25. Here, He separates the wicked from the righteous, but it’s also the born-again believers from the non-believers. Judgment Day is coming for everyone. Those who accept Jesus’ salvation are free to enter Heaven. Those who didn’t, those who think that they’re “good enough”, or that they followed a religion’s rites and rituals, will be turned away and sent to the “fiery furnace”, aka hell. (Purgatory doesn’t exist!)

One last interesting passage…

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

53 When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. 54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” 58 And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

Matthew 13 NLT
  1. Mary had other children — Jesus had brothers and sisters (not cousins!). This is one of the lies of the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. Back in Matthew 11, Jesus tells of the judgment of unbelieving towns and people.

The Kingdom of God/Heaven

Here Jesus showed us pictures — truths — of the Kingdom of God (Heaven). Altogether they describe the Kingdom…

  1. The Kingdom is a treasure worth giving up your old lives for.
  2. The Kingdom will go forth, but many will reject it.
  3. It would start small, but grow supernaturally.
  4. The devil will infiltrate and infect it.
  5. In the end — on the Judgment Day — Jesus will separate the righteous from the wicked, the believers from the unbelievers.
  6. The believers will be rewarded.
  7. The nonbelievers will be judged and thrown into the fiery lake where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (hell).

I believe there are many Catholics & Progressives in hell crying & asking, “Why?!” They did what the false preachers told them to do. They went to church. They called themselves Christians. Yet, they missed the crucial step of repentance that leads to salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

That so separated them from God, that they will never get an answer.

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Born Again

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!