Explanations: Seven Parables, Seven mysteries

In Matthew 13 we have seven parables of the Lord re the Kingdom of heaven. His disciples asked Him: 
"Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" 
11 He answered and said unto them, "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given. Matthew 13:10, 11. 
To them it is not given, the Lord said. To whom? 
He meant them He called an evil and adulterous generation in Matthew 12:39: 
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, "Master, we would see a sign from thee." 
39 But He answered and said unto them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. 
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in the Judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. 
42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the Judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:38-42. 

Two times blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. 

When the Lord had cast a devil from a dumb man after which that man could speak again, the Pharisees said: 
"He casteth out the devils through the prince of the devils." (Matthew 9:34). 
In Matthew 12:24 they expressed nearly the same accusation: 
22 Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb; and He healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw. 
23 And all the people were amazed and said, "Is not this the Son of David?" 
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, except by Beelzebub, the prince of devils." 
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts and said unto them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 
26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 
28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you. 
29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house and despoil his goods, unless he first bind the strong man? And then he will despoil his house. (12:22-29). 

To this the Lord added: 
31 Therefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. 
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. 
33 Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit. 34 "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (12:31-34) 

A sentence of hardening. 

That blasphemy made clear that the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel was sure. Then chapter 13 opens with the words: The same day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the seaside. Those words say something more than the literal meaning. He left the house of Israel and sat down by the sea of the nations. The gospel would go past the boundaries of Israel to the nations. 
Then follow seven parables. 
The multitudes heard them, but only his disciples got them explained. That was not given to all. They fell under the sentence of hardening of which Isaiah had prophesied: 
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables, because seeing, they see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. 
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, ‘By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. 
15 For this people’s heart has waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.’ (Matthew 13:13-15. The prophecy of Isaiah is in Isaiah 6:9 and 10) 

The mysteries of the kingdom. 

In the Old Testament much has been written about the coming kingdom of Christ. On the basis of those various prophecies the Israelites expected that the Messiah (Christ) would restore the kingdom to Israel, deliver the people out of the hands of their enemies, bring blessing and prosperity and the fulfilling of all promises. That He will do indeed when it is Gods time. 
But Israel rejected Him. So the kingdom was not restored. Things would come that Israel did not expect. Christ would suffer and die and rise again out of the dead. 
A new time began, the time of the rejected but in heaven glorified Christ. He is the anointed King indeed, but his people chose the Roman emperor. The kingdom of Gods King therefore got another character. It became a hidden kingdom. 
The Jews did not expect or know the kingdom in that character, nor did they know how it would develop and what would be its characteristics in the new era. They were the mysteries of the kingdom. 
Those mysteries the Lord told in parables. He explained them exclusively to the disciples that believed in Him. 

The parable of the sower. 
(Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23). 

1 The same day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the seaside. 
2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a boat and sat, and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 
3 And He spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, "Behold, a sower went forth to sow. 
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside; and the fowls came and devoured them up. 
5 Some fell upon stony places where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth. 
6 And when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 
8 But others fell into good ground and brought forth fruit: some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." 

18 "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower: 
19 When any one heareth the Word of the Kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he that received seed by the wayside. 
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word and at once with joy receiveth it; 
21 yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while. For when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he loses faith. 
22 He also that received the seed among the thorns is he that heareth the Word; and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful. 
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word and understandeth it; who also beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." 

The Lord explained that the seed is the word of the kingdom, which the devil catches away like birds devouring the seed they find. 
That first part of this parable has no favourable message. 
The same is true of the second and the third part. The last one only, of the seed that fell into good ground, is favourable. 
Moreover it is supposed, that not all hearers will understand. 

The tares among the wheat. 
(Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43) 

24 Another parable put He forth before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field; 
25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 
26 But when the blades had sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, ‘Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath come the tares?’ 
28 He said unto them, ‘An enemy hath done this.’ The servants said unto him, ‘Wilt thou then have us go and gather them up?’ 
29 But he said, ‘Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. 

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house, and His disciples came unto Him, saying, "Explain unto us the parable of the tares of the field." 
37 He answered and said unto them, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man. 
38 The field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one. 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. 
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be at the end of this world. 
41 The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity, 
42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. 

In this parable the Lord warned his disciples also against opposition and wicked hostile action in the kingdom. 
We do well to note, that in this parable the field is not the church, but the world. So nobody can justify a going together of children of God with them that are wicked in a local church. 
The field is the world in which the gospel is preached, but in which the evil one puts his counterfeiters into Christianity. (Christianity is not the church, but the total of all who confess to be Christians, unbelieving confessors included.) 
A crusade to purify the world by eliminating all who do not believe is totally wrong and contrary to Scripture. But inside the church the rule is “Put away from among yourselves the wicked person”. (1 Corinthians 5:13). Put away does not mean kill him. 

The parable makes clear. that besides the good work of the gospel inside Christianity an evil work would be done, owing to which it would become a mixture of real Christians and would be Christians. So this parable as well does not give a favourable picture or speak of a favourable development. Here too it is supposed that not all hearers are real hearers. 

The mustard seed. 
(Matthew 13:31,32). 

31 Another parable put He forth before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 
32 which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." 

That apparently speaks of a favourable development. The beginning is small but the growth is more than could be expected. And fowls with their nests in the tree, is not it a lovely picture?v Remember the parable of the sower. The birds came and took the seed away. That was the unfavourable picture of wicked powers in the air that try to prevent that the word of God takes root in the heart. 
Here they are a similar image, of the same powers spoiling the purity of Christianity by their influence, that Christianity having grown abnormally owing to the penetration of the world into it. Scripture gives us in Daniel an earlier picture of a big tree. It was no favourable presentation of the position of Nebuchadnezzar, neither is it here. Christianity has become a great and influential power in the world. We know the splendour of the church of Rome and the eastern Patriarchs. It is great indeed, but combined with false religion and wrong practises. 

The parable of the leaven. 
(Matthew 13:33). 

33 Another parable spoke He unto them: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened." 

Again people usually think it to be a favourable picture of the development of the church. That is a mistake. It is the reverse. 
Leaven is a bad dough, turned sour. In Scripture it always is the picture of corruption and sin. we find it so at the Passover. The lamb had to be eaten with unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:8). Then followed the seven days of the feast of unleavened bread, a type of the life of a Christian after his conversion. which ought no longer to be combined with sin. 
Then in the offerings of Israel leavened bread never was allowed, giving the same picture. 
The Lord warned for the leaven of the Pharisees: 
6 Then Jesus said unto them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." 
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." 
8 But when Jesus perceived this, He said unto them, "O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, ‘because ye have brought no bread’? 
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 
10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, but that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees?" 
12 Then understood they that He bade them not to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Mathhew 16:6-12). 
Again in Marc 8:15
15 And He charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod." 
And in Luke 12:1
1 In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trod one upon another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 

Paul used the image of leaven in the same way: 
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us. 
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). 
And Galatians 5:8 and 9: This persuasion cometh not from Him that calleth you. 
9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 

It therefore is impossible not to see the leaven in Matthew 13 as an image of corruption and sin. In this parable we are informed, that through the mixture with unrighteousness Christianity would grow indeed, but speedily be corrupted as a whole. 
The opinion that leaven here is an image of the gospel that would win the whole world for Christ, is wrong. Of course sinners are saved, but the world as a whole is going on in ever more godlessness till judgment will come. Christianity, which had to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), preventing corruption, has been corrupted by unrighteousness itself and will be spued out of the mouth of the Lord. (Revelation 3:16). 
Again we must say, that accepting unrighteousness will cause growth, in numbers, but not in quality. In quality it is decline. 
When the Lord will return to earth, the whole world will not be Christian. On the contrary, it will be as it was in the day when Lot went out of Sodom, unrighteousness to its uttermost height. 
It is a mistake to see this parable as favourable and that mistake has its consequences. It prevents Christians to have a right view of the future and the prophetic word. Some even try in advance to create a partly better world, whereas others turn away, seeing the failure. Some even claim parts of the world for Christ. 
It makes moreover enthusiast for a big world church, unity with diversity they say, and that big church will come indeed, a powerful entity, characterized by unbelief, unrighteousness and sin, Babylon the great of the time of the end (Revelation 17), disgusting for the Lord. 

The treasure in the field. 
(Matthew 13:44). 

44 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, which when a man hath found, he hideth; and for the joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 
The parable tells us of the Lord, who gave up everything and bought the whole world and everything in it. But though the Lord bought everything, Israel still is hidden and lost in the world as a treasure in the field. It is remarkable that the man bought the field, but nothing is said about the treasure. 
Satan has been conquered and in due time the Lord will reign in Jerusalem. Then Israel, now still a treasure in the field of the world, will be restored to its position of head of the nations and again will be the people of the Lord. (That of course requires that they return to the Lord, which however is not the subject here.) 

The merchant man seeking goodly pearls. 
(Matthew 13:45,46) 

45 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls, 
46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 
Israel is the property of the Lord, but it has not yet been dug out. The treasure is still in the field. 
With the church it is different. He has redeemed her, she is united to Him and He cherishes her as his most precious pearl. (Ephesians 5:25). 
(His coming to take the church into the house of the Father is included in the fact that He bought and possessed the pearl. The teaching of his coming is no subject here.) 

The Lord gave up everything. 
We did not give up all to know the Lord. Nobody can pretend to have done it. In that case we would have paid a price. That is a wrong presentation. He alone paid. And what a cause to thank Him eternally! 
Sinner, you need not pay. He paid for you. Accept His offer. It is without price, He having paid for it. Accept Him by believing in Him who paid for you. It will be your hour of salvation. 

The net cast into the sea. 
(Matthew 13:47-50). 

47 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, 
48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, 
50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." 
This last parable tells us of the last days before the return of the Lord. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all people and that net of the gospel will bring many together. The coming of the Lord will be salvation for them that are awaiting him believingly, but for the unrighteous it will be judgment. The wicked will be severed from the just and be judged. The righteous will enter into the glory of his kingdom. 

That return of the Lord is different from his coming to take up his church into his glory. The latter is the fulfilling of his promise in John 14:3. His return on earth is after that, even after the great tribulation. It is the fulfilling of the words in Zecharia 14:4 and the promise of the Angel after his ascension. (Acts 1:11). 

Important lessons.

Keeping in mind that many suppose that through the preaching of the gospel nearly the whole world will be converted, the important lesson of this chapter is, that the parables do not speak of a successful growth of the church, but of growth through wrong influence, by which the world entered massively into the church, spoiling and corrupting it, the work of leaven. It can open the eyes for the danger of seeking great things and of the introduction of popular worldly methods and for the fatal results if the necessary discipline according to Scripture is neglected. It can make us understand that the mixture of faith and unbelief in so many denominations, and the accepting those who reject the Word of God is fatal and contrary to the will of the Lord. 
To the other side it can encourage us, seeing that the Lord has known from the beginning the tragic development in Christianity and that He has told us about it. We see that things do not get out of his hand. We therefore can say with Habakkuk: 
17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls—
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 
19 The LORD God is my strength; and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. (3:17-19).
J. Ph. Buddingh