“Parables that Set Us Apart”
Matthew 13:1-23

“And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying…”[Matthew 13:2-3]

Matthew 13, the Parables of the Kingdom, brings us to the third discourse in the Gospel of Matthew. As mentioned before, Matthew pivots around five major teachings of Jesus on the Kingdom of Heaven. In Chapter 13 He describes the Kingdom through seven parables.

Why parables? “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” [v.11] The “you” are disciples [followers], the “them” are the multitudes.

And so, we see that parables discern disciples from the multitude; they set apart the serious believersfrom the non-serious ones. They reserve doers of the Word from merely hearers. James said it plainly, “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only” [Jms 1:22]; and “Faith without works is dead” [Jms 2:20]. Now, this does not mean that we are saved by works. That is the sole work of Christ’s work upon the Cross; only believing by faith in that work saves us. HOWEVER, once we are saved, we will have works. Good works always follow true faith; it is a natural [spiritual] progression.

And that is the message of the first parable of the Sower. The Sower is Jesus. He sows seed on different soils, which are symbolic of different hearts. Only one receives the seed of the Word and “yields a crop; some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” [v.8] The others, the multitude, have no yield. There is one soil that is set apart to bear fruit.

Now, remember, miracle and message are the familiar rhythmof the Gospel of Matthew. Also remember, that it is the message that is the more important. Miracles might gain a little better way in this life, but believing the message is what brings us into Kingdom life that is eternal. The latter is far more important. But it was the formerthat was drawing the crowds.

This is where the parables draw the line. It is the serious believer, the one who presses into Jesus, the one who walks the walk; he is the one who partakes of the spiritual food and understands the parables. But to the one seeking only physical miracles, the parables are of no serious study. With parables, Jesus “throws alongside” illustrations that give depth into the Kingdom, and it is that depth that drives a disciple to higher ground!

“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” [v.13]

May we be set apart for spiritual food, God’s manna from heaven, and not only on the physical bread and tangible things in this life. May we allow these parables to set us apart.