I am so glad that we can have this time once again to sit down together and take an in-depth look into the Word of God. Again, we are in Matthew's gospel. Now, there is so much to talk about in this gospel, but I will not cover it all. However, by the time we get through the Gospel of John we will have returned to Matthew quite a bit. Therefore, what we may not cover now, we will eventually. For example: John the Baptist's question regarding Jesus: "Are you the one who was to come?" (Matthew 11:3) Why would John ask such a question? Didn't he know? Well, in order to rightly answer this we will need the help of all the gospels. So, we will look more at that question later.

As I have stated earlier, Jesus delivered five discourses in the Gospel of Matthew. We have looked at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-7:29). The next discourse is found from chapter 10:1-11:1. This sermon is the Mission Sermon. After that we find Jesus' Sermon in Parables. In chapter thirteen Jesus teaches using seven parables. Four of the parables found in this chapter are not found in any of the other gospels. The Gospel of John contains zero parables. Often, Jesus begins his parable by saying; "The kingdom of heaven is like..." (Matthew 13:24) The parables in Matthew's gospel are designed to help the disciples better understand what Jesus is teaching. However, in Mark's gospel we will discover that Jesus told these parables for a different reason. In Matthew 13:13 Jesus says: "This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." We will look at Mark's understanding later. For Matthew, the parables were to help in understanding.

The Parable of the Sower appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Again, there are no parables in John. I will not write out the parables because they are too lengthy. Jesus first tells the parable, then he explains the parable. The parable of the sower seems simple enough to understand. A sower sows seed and the seed lands on different types of soil. The sower uses the scattering method in which he simply scatters it to the wind. Some seed lands on hard ground (pathway), some on rocky ground, among thorns and then some makes its way to good soil. Of course, seed that lands on hard ground never has a chance. Birds come and eat it off the top of the ground. Seed among thorns is overtaken by the thorns. The rocky soil prohibits the seed from taking root. I think this parable describes every type of soil we had in Missouri.

The seed represents God's Word. Notice, there was nothing wrong with the seed. There is never anything wrong with the Word of God as it is always able to bring all to salvation. But, Jesus warns that the only way the Word can be truly productive is when it falls among good soil. Was Jesus speaking about the disciple's here? Was he hinting at the inability of the Jewish leaders to understand?

Jesus then tells the Parable of the Weeds. In this parable good seed has been sown in the field, but guess what? Weeds grow right along with it. Jesus says: "But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat." (Mat. 13:25) So that's where weeds come from? Well, the owner's servants want to pull the weeds, but the owner forbids it because of the danger of pulling the wheat up with it. In the early stages of growth wheat and tare both looked identical. The owner is not willing to take this risk. Years ago when I was just a teenager in the Ozarks of Missouri I was hired by a man named Audie Evans to take care of a problem. Farmers in the Ozarks were being overtaken by thistles. Audie was going to pay me good money to dig up every thistle I could find and burn them. I assured him I would rid them of the problem. "By the time I get done," I assured him, "there will not be a thistle left from here to the Arkansas border." He assured me that he wasn't worried about the folks near the Arkansas border, he just wanted his farm rid of this unwanted guest. So, I went to work. I pulled and I dug every "thistle" I could find. At the end of the day I drove up to Audie's house smiling ear to ear. I was there to make him happy with news of the thistle's demise. I had my truck loaded. In return, Audie would make me happy by paying me. Audie asked, "What is all that?" "Why Audie, those are the thistles you wanted to get rid of." I replied. I had no idea why Audie would ask, "What is that?" "Son," he came back at me, "I don't know what you have in the back of your truck, but what you don't have is thistles!" The truth was, I had no idea what the thistles looked like. I just decided it was whatever it was that was overtaking his pasture.

The owner is not willing to risk losing the wheat. The owner represents God who is not willing to prematurely "pull up" that one who appears to be of no value. "Let both grow together," the owner demands. (Matthew 13:30) Long ago there was a parishioner who was in church almost every Sunday. He just sat in his pew (this would be his testimony later) staring at the windows as the sun shone through. He would wonder: "Are the fish biting? How much work could I be getting done?" He once said that he only came to church because his wife made him. He said, "Oh, don't get me wrong. I believed in God and I wanted to go to heaven and I....I just didn't want to be there." What if the pastor (I won't say who the pastor was, LOL) could have said, "He's just taking up space! Get him out of here!" What if church was just for those who were delighted to be there? Well, one day something happened within this man. He said, I was sitting in my pew, looking at the same stained glass window I looked at every Sunday, and I...I...I just don't know what happened to me." Today, that man teaches Bible Study in his church. Jesus says, "Leave the weeds alone."

Well, Jesus tells other parables, but tomorrow we will move on and see what else there is to discover about this Gospel. Please join me. -Pastor Rick.

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