Monday 21 June 2021


Matthew 13 v, 24 /53

In to-day’s gospel reading, there are six parables included in this passage.  When Jesus was teaching He always took scenes from life which people could understand and then He applied this to convey a message.  Jesus is teaching about God’s Kingdom of which he is the King.  The parables contain a spiritual meaning to explain the truth.

When looking at a Bible passage it is helpful to consider three questions. What does it say; what does it mean; how does it relate to me?  I will take each of the parables to show what they are stating, and then apply the meaning.

The first parable is really a continuation of the parable of the Sower, which you heard last week.  I imagine it will cause some preachers more than a little difficulty in facing its teaching.

The farmer has sown wheat seeds, but an enemy came and sowed weeds amongst the wheat seed.   The weed was called darnel, a bitter poisonous weed which could cause serious consequences. When sown it so closely resembled wheat that it could not be recognised, and it was only when it began to grow that it became identified, and by that time the roots were intertwined so that to pull them up would disturb the good seed. Therefore it was not practicable to separate one without damaging the other, so the separation had to wait until harvest when the reapers would gather and pick the bad seed out and use it as fuel to burn on the fire. That is the story.

The meaning is that the farmer is our Lord; the good seed are those who gladly acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour. The weeds are those who are not followers of Jesus. There is no in between, you are inevitably either on the Lord’s side or if not, on the side of the evil one.  The field is the world; the harvest is at the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels, who will gather Christ’s people and make the separation.

What then is the explanation that affects us? We are reminded there is always the presence of hostile powers in the world seeking to destroy goodness.

This parable is not a discourse on farming, but rather the theme is that of separation and judgement. Jesus used imagery to deal with the reality of emphasising what can be for ever lost. Some people think that Jesus was just trying to frighten us, which raises the question is there something to be frightened of?

If you travel on major roads you will see signs warning of speed cameras, which infer a penalty if you drive over the limit.   There are also signs telling of the number of accidents and fatalities due to careless driving. Yes they are trying to frighten us, but they are also reminding us how close death can be and any sensible person will heed the warnings.

In verses  31/50 there are five parables all relating to the activity of the Kingdom of God

 The mustard seed was then the smallest of all seeds, but could grow to 10 feet high. It has branches that spread out in which birds could perch on.  Jesus was saying his Kingdom was like the mustard seed and its growth into a tree.  The Kingdom starts from that small land of Israel and has spread right across the world.

 Yeast is a symbol of growth, and as yeast spreads through a lump of dough, so the kingdom spreads through a believers life by the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus was meaning, if we believe in him, and accept that by his death on the cross our sins will be forgiven, we will have life in heaven with him. To the unbeliever that may not mean much, but it was the message taken by the Apostles in the small country of Israel 2000 years ago, and has for centuries spread across the world. Millions of men and women have devoted their lives to taking that message across the world, often making much personal sacrifice in doing so.

 The next story is of hidden treasure. In the Bible days there were no banks so people often buried treasurable items in the ground for safety.  Here a man is tending to a field when he comes across hidden treasure during the course of his daily work.  He realises the value, so he went to the owner of the land and bought the field having  sold all he owned to do so.

 The story of the pearl is of a merchant in the jewellery business, who knows there is in existence a pearl of great beauty and value. One day he found it, and he too sold his possessions to have that pearl.

 People can find Jesus in their everyday life, often by accident. By a message on a Church noticeboard, in conversation with a Christian, or some other chance event.. Other people will search for a Bible teaching Church, a much harder way these days, but will persist and there find the treasure they were looking for.

 The parables are telling the same truth that the kingdom is of such value we should strive to gain it.

Lastly is the story of the net.  A net was dragged across the water and collected different kinds of fish.  Those with scales on were classified as bad, and had to be separated from the rest. So the Church of God can contain people who are unworthy as well as the true believer, and we cannot discriminate. 

 The Church is for the whole world, and God wants all to be saved.  But the Bible teaches a time will come when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad.

 Jesus is here warning of the consequences of what faces us if we reject Him, and showing His love and care for us through the death He suffered at the Cross that we may be forgiven for all our wrongdoings..

Jesus always made it clear that this life is a preparation for eternity, and we face a choice now. He taught there were two roads in life, a broad one leading to destruction which many take, a narrow one leading to eternal life. There are two masters, Jesus and the devil; two destinies, heaven and hell.

To suggest hell is for many people, including clergy an anathema. There will be preachers this morning putting a completely different interpretation on this parable. But if we are keeping to the Bible’s word, there is no room for personal opinion or sensitivity.

Verse 42 clearly states, referring to the evil ones, ‘they will be cast into the fiery furnace.’ Jesus used this term elsewhere also to signify hell

People have various views of what happens when we die, we simply cease to exist; or a loving God would never send anyone to hell, everyone eventually ends up in heaven. It is true God will not send anyone to hell; people just make the choice for themselves by rejecting Jesus Christ.

In all the world there is only one source of authoritative information about the afterlife, and that is the Bible. Outside of the Bible, everything else is only speculation and wishful thinking. If we want to know what God has to say on this important topic, it is to the Bible we must go.

Turning first to consider the reality of heaven, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house where there were many mansions; the Bible states heaven is–God’s dwelling place where Christ is today and where Christians go when they die.

People don’t believe in it like we used to. They are all too busy making a living to worry about what happens after we die. To the unbeliever such words seem either sentimental or simply incredible. But to the one who accepts God’s Word at face value, they are nothing less than the sober truth.

We don’t talk about it nowadays, because it isn’t popular to suggest that unbelievers are tormented for all eternity for their sins. Yet the Bible teaches the eternal punishment of the wicked in many passages.

Those who fail to repent now and turn to Jesus may find out too late for remorse, too late to give your heart to Jesus.  The day will be long past.

Since some people scoff at the notion of an afterlife, let’s pause for a moment and ask why the Bible reveals heaven and hell to us. What do we gain by knowing about these things and why are they important to the Christian faith?

The Bible is given to us to answer all problems, as it is God’s way of telling us how to live and prepare for when we die. So many people believe we are all going to the same place, and I accept the Church has perpetuated that thinking, much to is discredit.

 Our Lord Himself told us there was a heaven and hell, two distinct places in order to right the wrongs of this life. Evil people cause so much harm and hurt, yet go unpunished and the perpetrators are set free to hurt others. Hell must exist, if for no other reason than to balance the scales of justice. God is a just god, and it is not credible that those who made life intolerable for others, often very cruelly, will be treated in the same way as those who lived worthily in accordance with out Lord’s teaching.

We constantly hear of people whose suffering seems to be overwhelming. It may be cancer or some other disease, it may be a broken marriage or a child in trouble, it may be financial disaster or trouble at work or at school. God’s people endure many hardships in this life. Most of the time, we can’t fully understand why God allows certain things to happen to us.

But we have this promise. When the books are opened and the scales are balanced, we will discover that the things we went through in this life are nothing compared with the glories of heaven.

It has been said, for the unbeliever, this life is the only heaven they will ever know. For the believer, this life is the only hell we will ever know.

Each person must make an intelligent and informed decision about heaven and hell. If what I have said is true, then you must do whatever it takes to make sure you go to heaven 
and you must make sure at all costs that you do not go to hell.

Sometimes we are ready to think a person is a wonderful Christian when in fact they may well not be, and on the other hand wrongly condemn someone. Judgement must wait for the harvest, when we will be judged not anyone aspect of our life, so much as our whole life.

It is often thought that the fact a person attended a Church and was accepted as a Christian would automatically be at the Messianic banquet, but the Bible makes it clear that is not necessary so. Many Church people these days live lives which do not measure up to what the Bible expects. Indeed, there are preachers who are living and supporting ways which are so totally against the teaching of Scripture. Judgement however is in the hands, and at the mercy of God, who alone knows the secrets of all our hearts.

Let’s go back one more time to the words of Jesus Christ. When Thomas asked him the way to heaven, Jesus gave this answer: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Those words are clear; it is not enough to have a casual approach to Christ, there has to be a firm commitment to believe and act according to His teaching.

The way to heaven is as narrow as the Cross. Only those who trust Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord will enter the gates of heaven.
It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. By the same token, the road to heaven is paved with the blood of Christ. Let us all be assured we are on the right road. 

 The chapter ends with Jesus asking his disciples if they understood what he had  taught them, and they answered that  they had.  Jesus went on to talk about the scribes, or teachers of the Jewish Law, bringing out of his house old and new possessions. He is pointing out that they, the disciples, had joined him knowing the law, but had then learned all he had taught them. The scribes knew only the law and had not received his teaching.

 We are all given some gift by God or some talent, and we do not need to stop using it by coming to serve him. We can go on using it, and many sportsmen, especially in America, have gone public to tell of how their lives and ability, has been advanced through their Christian beliefs.  Politicians in the United States are forthright in acknowledging their faith, sadly in the United Kingdom our politicians don’t do God at all, they just make laws which offend him.

 Jesus the moved on when he had ended his teaching and went to his own town at Nazareth. He had difficulty there as the people knew him and had difficulty in accepting who he really was and the people were to a degree prejudiced against him and his message.

 When we meet together for worship we should do so with a readiness to listen to the preacher. I know there are problems in that listening to some preaching is an endurance test, but as time has gone on I regret to say that any preaching which goes against prevailing culture is likely to raise objection. Pray that your preacher will be faithful to his/her calling. and will tell to the best of their ability keep to the theme, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

 If you attend a Church where the Bible is not taught, you need to look for a church where it is. We are call to meet together for the purpose of worship, I think it is going to take some time to get back to the situation of two years ago as the pandemic has kept a lot of people from attending.  Modern technology does enable us to partake of worship by television and by streaming from local churches.

 The United States has some exceptional worshipping churches in evangelical style which attracts (literally) thousands in the congregation and are well worth watching.

 May God bless you and care for you.

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