The kingdom of heaven is like...
Matthew 13:24-46 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field;32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the[f]air come and nest in its branches.”
33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”
36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
In today’s text Jesus uses several parables, anaolgies or allegories to describe the kingdom of heaven. Many people mistakenly read the entire Bible as a compilation of allegorical writings. They believe that all that is recorded in scripture is meant to be interpreted. In doing that, they tend to devalue portions of scripture that say things that they are not in agreement with. They interpret scripture to align with their thinking. 2 Timothy 3:16 says: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. Scripture, like God Himself, is not meant to be made into what we want it to be or say, but rather it is to make us to be like the God who created us. His words are meant to conform us to His way. Jesus uses parables to describe the kingdom of heaven to help us, with our finite minds, to better understand and comprehend the infinite kingdom. He uses parables from the natural realm to teach us lessons about the ways of the spiritual kingdom. God Himself and the kingdom of heaven are beyond what can be known or described in natural words, but it is better that we have some understanding than none at all.
Jesus begins with the parable of the tares among wheat, but explains that later. Next, He says: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He created the heavens and the earth. In Psalm 139 the psalmist proclaims the omnipresence of God saying, in verses 7-10: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If God is everywhere, then His kingdom is also everywhere. It is beyond what we can see or imagine, not only do the birds make their home in it, but it contains all of creation. Yet, in Luke 17:21 Jesus says: “The kingdom of God is within you.” As great and vast as it is, the kingdom of heaven is also within us, as small as a mustard seed. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” If we place our faith, not in ourselves or our own abilities but in the kingdom of heaven that is within us, we can be the people who are the answer to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We can be those who bring the realities of the kingdom of heaven to earth, nothing will be impossible to or for us. The small seed of faith within us can change the world around us.
Jesus continues saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Leaven, or yeast cannot be seen when it is mixed with flour. The result though, of it being added, is that it permeates everything it comes in contact with. Yeast is actually a living, growing and reproducing microoganism. So too, is the kingdom of heaven, living, growing and reproducing. It will permeate and affect everything it comes in contact with. The light of the kingdom will dispel the darkness of the world. Philippians 2:10-11 says: At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. When the leaven of the kingdom has permeated all of creation, then everyone and everything will bow to the King of Kings. Again, the leaven of the kingdom is within us and we are to permeate and affect, for the kingdom, everything we touch and every place we go.
The parable of the tares is explained in the text: “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” The most dangerous deceptions of the devil are covered in Jesus explanation of the parable. The devil has deceived many people into believing that he does not exist and that he is not working in the world. The first thing that is necessary in order to fight an enemy is that we acknowledge that we have one. Like the leaven of the kingdom, the devil also spreads and sows leaven throughout the world. That God allows the work of the devil and the sin of the world to exist is not that He accepts sin. It is that it will be judged at the end of the age. The age we are currently in, is the age of grace. At the end of the age of grace, sin will be fully and finally judged. The other deception of the devil is that there is no hell. Jesus says: “He who has ears, let him hear.” If there were no judgment and if there were no hell, Jesus would not have said there is. He would not have said we should hear.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word; all scripture, which is good for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. May I truly come to know and comprehend the greatness of the kingdom of heaven. May I know that it is within me and may I cause the kingdom within me to affect the world around me. May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done and may every knee bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.