So we’ve seen that the kingdom of heaven is like a seed sower in a wheat field. Before Jesus explains this, He tells two more parables – that of the mustard seed and that of the yeast. This should give us a clue that perhaps we should consider what we’ve learned about the kingdom of heaven in those parables to inform the content of Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Also of note is that Jesus does not explain every parable He tells – in fact, there’s only one other time He does so: that of the parable of the sower, which is how all this parable telling in Matthew 13 begins. Interestingly, though the other parable Jesus explains is called the parable of the wheat and the weeds, it, too, focuses on a seed sower. Something about sewing – planting, tending, waiting – is central to the kingdom of heaven. Continue reading The kingdom of heaven is like wheat among weeds…explained
Jesus has already explained once why He is using parables to teach in Mathew chapter 13. After telling His first parable, His disciples ask him why He’s using them and He answers, as we’ve seen. After He explains His use of parables, He explains the first parable then tells three more. This cycle is repeated twice in Matthew 13; the second explanation of the use of parables is unprompted, much shorter and offered by the “narrator” (Matthew) rather than Jesus, as if just as a reminder.
“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened” (Matthew 13:33). With this parable, Jesus switches the running theme of farming, reaping and sewing and moves us into the kitchen. One phrase that links the previous parable about the mustard seed with this one about yeast is the phrase “that [someone] took and….”. The kingdom of heaven isn’t just a mustard seed but a seed someone took and sewed in his field. The kingdom of heaven isn’t just yeast, it is yeast that a woman took and mixed with flour until all of it was leavened.
Sometimes, the kingdom of God is like seeds. But in Matthew 13:24-30, the kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who plants good seed (which answers my question from last Thursday about who is scattering these seeds) in his field, which is apparently unsecured. An enemy comes in and attempts to ruin the harvest, not by poisoning the soil but by sewing bad – or at least inconvenient – seeds in with the good seeds. When I’ve heard this parable preached, it’s the growth of the wheat versus weeds that gets the attention; the wheat, it is implied, is the kingdom of heaven – goodness growing among corruption. And of course, that is one way to picture the world we live in. But it was the previous parable that likened the kingdom of heaven to seeds; in this one, the kingdom of heaven is the farmer.
Matthew 13:18 begins the explanation of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-8): “Whoever hears the words of the kingdom…” The words of the kingdom, then, are the seeds scattered on the four types of ground in Matthew 13:1-8. Before going any further, I read up on some basic biology: a seed, according to Wikipedia, is an “embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering called a shell” with almost everything it needs to develop (except water) that can be naturally transported by wind, water or animal but cannot seek out favorable conditions for growth on its own. In other words, a seed is a baby plant with a knapsack totally out of control of where it goes. The youngling lies dormant until it’s ready to sprout, waiting for water, which triggers germination. So the words of the kingdom, then, are embryos carrying everything but one ingredient with them wherever they may fall, waiting for the right moment to shoot out a root. Continue reading The Kingdom of Heaven is like…scattered seeds
As I mentioned last week, I’m wanting to study the kingdom of God. So I’ve been taking a closer look at the parables Jesus tells as reported in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13. In my wrestle to understand meaning in a violent world in which all passes away and my vocation within such a temporary, fragile reality, I’m finding myself looking for what lasts. “Eternity has been set on their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) indeed. The kingdom of heaven/the kingdom of God, it seems, is the only thing that lasts forever so it’s worth trying to understand a little bit more. Although, what was said during the sermon at the church we visited a few weeks ago about the Holy Spirit applies to the kingdom of heaven, too: “we don’t know what we’re saying when we talk about it.” Continue reading Readers, meet new series; new series, meet readers: The Kingdom of Heaven is like…