Matthew: The Parables of the King

Matthew: The Parables of the King

Author Klyne Snodgrass once noted, “Stories are inherently interesting. Discourse we tolerate; to story we attend. Story entertains, informs, involves, motivates, authenticates, and mirrors existence.” Therefore it should come as no surprise that when the Son of God came in human flesh to reveal God to humanity, He came sharing stories. He came telling tales. But not just any stories… So much of the ministry of Jesus is marked by His infamous use of parables.

Following an intentional collection of healing ministry stories, Matthew's gospel account moves on to include several chapters of Jesus' parables. With great diversity in length, formatting, characters, and imagery, Jesus uses the familiar to explain the unfamiliar ways of God. Weaving together different tales, these stories all share a common theme: insight into the Kingdom of God. Over the next few summer months, we will dive into these stories of Jesus with an ear to hear. Parables are Kingdom stories with the intent: to puzzle, provoke, and make plain a person’s response to Jesus.

"The Talents" Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In many ways, the Parable of the Talents is "Part 2" and further elaboration on the Parable of the 10 Virgins that precedes it. As Jesus ends the first parable with the words- "Watch therefore, for you neither know the day nor the hour" - the next section helps elaborate the agenda of our watching and waiting. What is required to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant?" In this captivating story of stewards being given 1, 2 and 5 talents, Jesus reveals the most important dimensions of our life in between His comings.

"Waiting" Matthew 25:1-13 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

Jesus again returns to the wedding analogy to describe what the Kingdom will be like in that day.  Similar to previous wedding parables in which some are welcome in and others are not is the need to dispel any idea of a capricious or demanding God.  Instead, we see the opportunity to wait in submission to the Bridegroom's timeline or to impose our own limits on what we're willing to put up with and by virtue submit to ourselves instead of to Him. The big idea is that He invites us to wait in submission, within the context of community for something that is worth waiting for.

 

"The Feast" Matthew 22:1-14 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In Matthew 21, Jesus directly engages the religious elite to challenge their faulty assumptions about God and the way He works. Moving into chapter 22, Jesus continues down the same path by telling the parable of the Wedding Feast. This story is filled with invitations, rejections, and a surprise twist of an ending that should shock everyone into reconsidering the economy of the Kingdom. The way God deals with humanity is not how many assume. His invitation is wider. Our rejection is greater. His garments are stricter. And the feast is better than we can dare dream. 

"The Parable of the Two Sons" Matthew 21:28-32 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

This week’s sermon is more about people’s response to the Kingdom of God then about the the nature of the Kingdom itself. Jesus confronts the religious leaders who feel secure and feel like they are close to God and are better than others. They are so confident in themselves that rather than seeing their needs and the grace of the savior in front of them, they instead reject him and question his authority. So Jesus tells them about two sons who both rebel, but one repents. In this parable Jesus says what God is looking for is not more doing and is not more action, but what God is seeking is repentance. May we be people of repentance who turn from our doing and from ourselves towards the perfect Son who has perfectly obeyed in our place and has earned us our belonging.   

"Worship and Warning" Matthew 13:47-50 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

As we close out the collection of parables from Matthew 13, we come to the Parable of the Dragnet in Matthew 13:47-50. Moving from the dusty soil of the land to the fishing practices of the sea, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the process of dragnet fishing. As He describes the process of collecting and sorting the "good" from the "bad," we are given invaluable insight into the final judgment at the end of the age. By walking through the specific features and phrases of this story, we are inspired to worship and warning with an eternal perspective that our generation needs to hear.

"The True Treasure and the True Pearl" Matthew 13:44-46 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In these two short parables, Jesus lays out two ideas: (1) The fact that the reign of God over our lives does not involve slight corrections or minor changes. Rather, the Kingdom of Heaven costs everything. In order for us to receive the kingdom there must be complete surrender we must “sell all that we have”. (2) Jesus is showing that He is the true treasure and He is the true pearl that is worth everything! He is of “great value” and therefore we joyfully sell all we have. But lastly we see that the only way that we can sell all that we have, the motivation behind it that enables us to do this, is that first Jesus treasured us, first Jesus sold all that he had to buy us. This is the motivation to surrender and to rejoice! 

"Small and Hidden" Matthew 13:31-33 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

Next up in Matthew's collection of Jesus' stories is the twin set of the Parable of Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven. While both stories have distinctive features of their own, they are best read and understood together as they reveal our faulty assumptions about the Kingdom of God. Jesus compares the Kingdom to a grain of mustard seed that grows into a tree large enough to nest the birds and leaven that gets hidden in a batch of flour. In a world system that celebrates bigger, faster, stronger, better, Jesus highlights how God ordains the small, slow, and hidden to accomplish His ultimate Kingdom plans. Come discover the way of Jesus that turns our assumptions on their head with humility and patience.

"Weeds and Wheat" Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In the next section of Matthew's gospel, Jesus continues telling parables to those gathered around him. Keeping with the agricultural theme, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a crop of good seed that has been sown in the field. However, in time, that good seed is intermixed with weeds sown by the enemy. This story about the weeds and the wheat gives us much to think about as we approach life in the Kingdom of God.

"Ears to Hear" Matthew 13:1-23 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

Among his collection of Jesus' parables, Matthew presents the Parable of the Soil first. As one of the few parables that Jesus actually explains, the meaning of this story is not difficult to comprehend. However, what it reveals about the centrality of hearing in the Kingdom of God remains revolutionary. Jesus invites all to consider the importance of His Word and respond in a way that is truly hearing. While some seed lands on the path, on the rocks, and among thorns, that which falls on the good soil bears a harvest beyond measure. May we be mindful about the soil of our soul and our receptivity to His good word.

"Tell Me a Story" Matthew 13:10-17 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

As we open a new section of Matthew, this week will serve as an introduction for all the weeks to come. Serving more as a teaching than a scriptural exposition, we will discuss the definition of the parables, the rules of the parables, and the author of the parables. May we all discover the Kingdom of Heaven about which Jesus is so powerfully speaking.

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