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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-23


54. The sower (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-29; Luke 8:1-18)

To visit all the towns of Galilee was a huge task. Jesus and his disciples were helped in this work by a group of women who went with them to look after their daily needs (Luke 8:1-3). Crowds of people came to see Jesus wherever he went, and were often a hindrance to the progress of the gospel. It seems that one reason Jesus began to teach extensively in parables was to separate those who were genuinely interested from those who were merely curious (Matthew 13:1-3a; Mark 4:1-2).

The parable of the sower draws its lessons from the four different kinds of soil rather than from the work of the sower. The preacher puts the message of the kingdom into people’s hearts as a farmer puts seed into the ground. But people’s hearts vary just as the soil in different places varies. Some people hear the message but do not understand it because they are not interested. Others show early interest but soon give up because they have no deep spiritual concern. Others are too worried about the affairs of everyday life. Only a few respond to the message in faith, but when they do their lives are changed and a spiritual harvest results (Matthew 13:3-9,Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:3-9,Mark 4:13-20).

Parables may provide a pictorial way to teach truth, but they are more than just illustrations. Their purpose is to make the hearers think about the teaching. Those who gladly receive Jesus’ teaching will find the parables full of meaning. As a result their ability to understand God’s truth will increase. But those who have no genuine interest in Jesus’ teaching will see no meaning in the parables at all. Worse still, their spiritual blindness will become darker, and their stubborn hearts more hardened. Because their wills are opposed to Jesus, their minds cannot appreciate his teaching, and consequently their sins remain unforgiven (Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 4:10-12).

Although the teaching of parables may cause the idly curious to lose interest in Jesus, the basic purpose of a parable is to enlighten, not to darken. A parable is like a lamp, which is put on a stand to give light, not hidden under a bowl or under a bed. The more thought people give to their master’s teaching, the more enlightenment and blessing they will receive in return. But if they are lazy and give no thought to the teaching, their ability to appreciate spiritual truth will decrease, until eventually it is completely gone (Mark 4:21-25).

Returning to the picture of the sower, Jesus shows that good seed will always produce healthy plants and good fruit if given the opportunity. The farmer sows the seed, but he must wait for the soil to react with the seed and make it grow. Likewise the messenger of the gospel must have patient faith in God as the message does its work in people’s hearts (Mark 4:26-29).

Verses 24-43

55. Wheat and weeds; mustard seed; yeast (Matthew 13:24-43; Mark 4:30-34; Luke 13:18-21)

In another parable, two types of seed produce two types of plants in the same field. The plants, wheat and weeds, are not separated while they are growing, but are left till harvest time. Then the wheat is put into the farmer’s barn but the weeds are destroyed (Matthew 13:24-30).

As with the parable of the sower, Jesus gave his disciples an interpretation (Matthew 13:34-36; cf. v. 10,16-18). In the present world those who are in the kingdom of God live alongside those who are not. This was contrary to popular Jewish thinking, which expected the kingdom to come in one mighty act that would destroy all enemies and set up God’s universal rule of righteousness and peace. Jesus points out that his kingdom is in the world already, but it will have its climax at the end of world history. When that time comes the wicked will be destroyed but the righteous will share in the kingdom’s triumph (Matthew 13:37-43).

The parable of the mustard seed foretells the expansion of the kingdom, as seen in the remarkable growth of the church. From small beginnings it grows to a vast community that covers the entire earth (Matthew 13:31-32). A similar truth is illustrated by the parable of the yeast (or leaven). As a small amount of yeast spreads through a lump of dough, so will the apparently small kingdom of Jesus spread through the world (Matthew 13:33).

Verses 44-52

56. Hidden treasure; pearl; fishing net (Matthew 13:44-52)

Two parables show that when people are convinced of the priceless and lasting value of the kingdom of God, they will make any sacrifice to enter it (Matthew 13:44-46). Yet those in the kingdom still live in a world where the righteous and the wicked exist together. Even among those who claim to be in the kingdom are the true and the false. These will be separated at the last judgment (Matthew 13:47-50).

Jesus’ teachings are likened to valuable goods that are put in a storeroom where they are added to the things that the owner already has, namely, the Old Testament Scriptures. The disciples of Jesus have a wealth of teaching available for their benefit (Matthew 13:51-52).

Verses 53-58

61. Jesus rejected at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6)

It is not clear whether this visit of Jesus to Nazareth is the same as that referred to in Luke 4:16-30 or another visit. If it was a second visit, it would have taken place a year later, but the result was the same as on the previous occasion. The people were surprised that a person they had known only as a carpenter could preach so well, but they refused to accept the evidence and admit that this one was indeed God (Matthew 13:53-57; Mark 6:1-4). They refused to believe in him and, as usual, Jesus would not use his miracles to force people to believe. But out of compassion he privately healed a few sick people (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5-6).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/matthew-13.html. 2005.
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