Friday 21 July 2023

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.

 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.

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, so that 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, will find it will be 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?

1. To right the wrongs of this life. So many crimes go unpunished,while the perpetrators are set free to hurt others. Hell must exist, if for no other reason than to balance the scales of justice.

2. To Reward those who serve the Lord.
Heaven must exist so that those who served Jesus faithfully, may enter their eternal reward.

3. To fulfil the promises God made to his people.

4. Redeem the suffering of this life.

The Bible states that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

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. 

 In verses  31/53 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.

 The Protestant Reformation was started by one man, but spread across the world This was a parable,which was one of the most personal. He had a small band of Apostles, but here we are 2023 years later preaching what they taught. Out of the smallest, the post powerful may come. The message taken by the Apostles in the small country of Israel 2000 years ago, and has for centuries spread across the world.

 Jesus spoke another parable. The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three ,easures of meal until the whole was leavened

 The parables of Jesus were from scenes and activities of everyday life, all of which were entirely familiar to those listening to Him. They featured a field a garden, the sea, the kitchen. In the parable of the leaven, He comes nearer home than in any other.

 In Palestine bread was baked in the home, three measures of meal was the average amount needed for a baking of loaf for a fairly large family. This was something He had seen His mother do. The leaven was a little piece of dough, which had been kept from a previous baking, and in keeping it had fermented, leaven was a piece of left over dough having fermented.

 The whole point of this parable was in one thing, the transforming power of the leaven, This changed the character of baking, for bread without leaven was hard, dry and not appetising; bread baked with leaven was soft, spongy, tasty and pleasant to eat. The introduction of leaven causes such a transformation.

 Christianity transforms life for the individual person, in four social ways. First,, for women.The Jew each morning, prayed thanking God that He had not made him a Gentile, a slave or a woman, Even in Greek culture,the woman lived a life of utter seclusion, with nothing to do but the household tasks, she was considered a nonentity. In Eastern lands on a journey, the man would be sitting on an ass, whilst the woman would be walking alongside, carrying a load. Christianity certainly improved life for a woman, and I found it ridiculous to read that educated women, were turning to Islam to be fully recognised, when in fact, Christianity respected and made life for women bearable.

 Christianity transformed life for the weak and ill, who were previously seen as a nuisance. A child was in places examined when born, and if it was fit, it was allowed to live, but if not ,was put to death on a mountain side.

 Christianity transformed the life for the aged, who like the sick, were treated as a nuisance. When they became too old to work, they were discarded on the rubbish heaps of life.

 Christianity transformed the life for the child. When a family broke down and the house was in peril, divorce was so prevalent it was not unusual, and a woman might have a different husband as much as each year. The child then became a nuisance and was abandoned, often left to die.

 Christianity undoubtedly transformed life on the whole of society.

We cannot see the leaven working in the dough, and similarly we cannot see the Kingdom working, and drawing men and women nearer to God.

 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, but will persist,  and there find the treasure they were looking for. People can also find Jesus in a Bible at any time the wish. 

 In doing so, they find a new inspiration for life, and realise the value of the treasure of a changed life. 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.

you are invited to make comment

No comments:

Post a Comment