Sermons

Parables of the Kingdom | Matthew 13 (Mville)

August 31, 2014 Speaker: Nate Greenland Series: Mission of the King | Matthew Part II

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 13:24–13:50

Parables of the Kingdom - Matthew 13 from Damascus Road Church on Vimeo.

 

INTRODUCTION

Please grab your Bibles, and if you don’t have one, you’re welcome to grab

a copy in the back. While I lay out a little introduction, I invite you to turn

to our text today which is found beginning in Matthew 13:24 and following.

If you haven’t opened a Bible before, Matthew is the 1st book of the New

Testament, which begins somewhere around the last 3rd of your Bible.

Today we’re going to be covering the parable of the weeds as well as the

parable of the net.

For those of you who weren’t with us last Sunday at Kayak point, you missed

out bigtime. It was a glorious celebration of our great God and King including

sunshine, songs of worship, gospel preaching, pulled pork sandwiches,

snakes on a beach, conversations, and the pinnacle of it all was were the

baptisms of a number of adults, youth and children publicly identifying with

Christ through His death, burial and resurrection to new life!

Do you ever wonder, especially in light of recent events around the

world, with ISIS grotesquely beheading people and killing thousands and

persecuting 10’s of thousands, with Russia increasing its attacks on the

Ukraine, do you ever wonder why there seems to be so much evil in world.

Where did it come from? Will it ever end?

We’re going to see in our text today that we live in a world which was

created in perfection, beauty and harmony but has since been marred by sin

and satan. Though the world seems overcome by evil, Christ is still King

and the world is part of His kingdom. In Christ’s perfect timing, at the peak

of the harvest, he will separate once and for all the wheat from weeds, the

righteous from unrighteous, and usher in the full realization of His kingdom.

We’re going to jump around a little bit in Matthew 13 today in order to keep

similar ideas together. Though the parable of the net doesn’t follow directly

after the parable of the weeds, they’re very closely related so we wanted to

address them together. The basic structure I created for our time together has

3 main parts: Jesus Kingdom through Parables; Jesus’ Kingdom has Come;

and Jesus’ Kingdom is Coming. With that introduction, let’s turn to read our

text. In Matthew 13:24 and following we read:

READ TEXT

[24] He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of

heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,

[25] but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds

among the wheat and went away. [26] So when the plants came up and

bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. [27] And the servants of the

master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow

good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ [28] He said to

them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do

you want us to go and gather them?’ [29] But he said, ‘No, lest in

gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. [30] Let

both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the

reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned,

but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

Skipping down to vs 34 we read

All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said

nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was

spoken by the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables;

I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowds and went into ithe house. And his disciples

came to him, saying, j“Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the

field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son

of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is kthe sons of the

kingdom. The weeds are lthe sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy

who sowed them is the devil. mThe harvest is nthe end of the age, and

the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds oare gathered and burned

Skipping down to verse 47 we read the Parable of the Net

with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 the Son of Man will send

his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin

and rall law-breakers, 42 sand throw them into the fiery furnace. In

that place tthere will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then uthe

righteous will shine like the sun vin the kingdom of their Father. wHe

who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:34-43

[47] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into

the sea and gathered fish of every kind. [48] When it was full, men

drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but

threw away the bad. [49] So it will be at the end of the age. The angels

will come out and separate the evil from the righteous [50] and throw

them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and

gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50 ESV)

PRAY

Jesus Kingdom In Parables - The Purpose of Parables

Our passage today comes on the heels of the parable about the Sower,

which Chris preached about last Sunday. With that beginning of Matthew

13, we’ve launched into the 3rd of 5 discourses – or 5 longer teachings

that Jesus provides amidst his other ministry activity of healing, providing

salvation, calling disciples, casting out demons, performing miracles,

rebuking the Pharisees and so on. Scholars call this 3rd such teaching the

“Parabolic Discourse” because of Jesus heavy use of parables.

But what is a parable? That’s not a word we really ever use in culture.

They can basically be thought of as proverbs, or wise sayings. They’re

stories and similes that Jesus tells in order to convey deep truths about

the mysteries of His kingdom that is breaking into our world. Rather than

merely communicate these truths in a dry lecture, Jesus takes commonly

known experiences from everyday life that people could understood and

relate to.

EX: Team HomeBuilding

One thing to know about parables is that they often aren’t perfectly

allegorical, which is to say there typically isn’t a thorough one-for-one

correspondence. You can only press them so far. We shouldn’t try and

make every little detail in the story match up with some facet in God’s

kingdom. To do that would likely cause us to miss the bigger idea that Jesus

is trying to communicate.

One of those big ideas that Jesus is trying to get at in our text today is

exactly how we’re to think about His Kingdom. Remember that the Jews

had endured centuries of oppression and opposition and were longing for a

deliver, for a promised and prophesied King who would vindicate Israel and

enact swift and thorough vengeance on her enemies. It’s into this setting

and mindset that Jesus introduces 6 parables, all of which begin with the

phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is like’

Again we read in verses 34-35

he said nothing to them without a parable. [35] This was to fulfill what

was spoken by the prophet:

hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35 ESV)

Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet. Reading

that, you’d think Matthew was referring to Isaiah, Malachi, Jeremiah or

some other prophet. But in fact, this quote is taken from Psalm 78, which

is attributed to the psalmist Asaph. While he’s not explicitly a prophet, all

of Scripture is God breathed therefore, for Matthew and for us, we can view

even Asaph’s psalms as having the prophetic weight of the Word of God in

that they both communicate the heart of God and foretell what is to come.

Psalm 78, is basically an accounting of the major milestones in Israel’s

cyclical history of how God pursued them, how they responded with gladness

but quickly sinned and fell away, how God disciplined them and then

relented and showed mercy. None of this was secret information or hidden

from the rest of Israel. So it’s a little odd to hear Asaph saying he’s “uttering

things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world.” As an oral

culture in which parents recited these events to their children, Israel had a

decent grasp of these major events in their own history.

What Israel lacked, though, was seeing the redemptive and gracious hand of

God within these events. In his psalm, Asaph takes historical events that are

[34] All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed,

“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been

commonly known and removes the curtain to reveal the often hidden hand of

God in her redemptive history.

In the same way, Jesus uses both his public ministry as well as parables about

commonly known things to reveal to Israel and to the disciples what the

hidden Kingdom of God is really like, contrary to their more militaristic and

nationalistic understanding and expectation. Israel knew for centuries that

her Messiah would be the Son of David, but they didn’t know He’d also be

the Suffering Servant. They knew He’d be a King, but they didn’t know he’d

also be the stricken Shepherd. Through Christ’s life and teaching He reveals

these hidden truths about God’s redemptive acts and intentions. These are

not something we as natural creatures can grasp from human reason. God

must reveal them to us.

Jesus’ Kingdom Has Come – Our Present Age

So what does this parable about weeds and wheat teach us about God’s

kingdom that has already come? Several things jump out. The first is that

His Kingdom HAS in fact come and broken into our world and won the

decisive victory. It’s so easy for us to forget that, though, when we look

around and see all the brokenness and evil around us. But our text today

makes it very clear that though satan may be the prince of the power of the

air, Christ is King over all. We read in v41 that at the end of the age God’s

angels “will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin...” This earth IS

part of His kingdom. To make it even clearer, Chris preached a couple weeks

ago out of Mathew 12, where Jesus says, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that

I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”.

So yes, evil abounds, but make no mistake, this earth, this world we see and

live in, is within and part of Christ’s Kingdom. That’s critical for us to

realize and remember because I think too often we have this idea that the

goal of our salvation is going UP to heaven. It is that, but it’s far from being

only that. Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, your will be done on earth as it is

in heaven.” God commands Israel in Jeremiah 29:7, “ But seek the

welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on

its behalf. Peter in his 2nd letter says, “according to his promise we are

waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” So

really, we’re not waiting to go UP to heaven. We’re waiting and longing for

heaven to come DOWN, fully and finally, to earth. We’re waiting for all

things to be made new again.

How does that change your perspective on how you live your life? If it isn’t

so much the case that all the evil is “left behind” in this God-forsaken waste

bucket, but this is God’s Kingdom and we’re citizens of that kingdom, then

how should we live our lives now with regard to the world around us? Ask

yourself - where have you given up on the world? Where have you become

jaded about your fellow man’s experience of injustice and suffering? Where

have you adopted a mindset about creation that is indifferent to its pollution

and destruction?

Just because this parable leads us to expect a certain amount of evil and

brokenness to exist side by side with the good until the end of the age doesn’t

mean we should be indifferent to that same evil and injustice any more than

Jesus telling us we’d always have the poor with gets us off the hook of trying

to provide our neighbors with the means to escape poverty.

For how long, as followers of Christ, will we stick our fingers in our ears.

The pain, suffering and evil in our world are overwhelming, to be sure, but

inactivity and indifference are not options. I was reminded this week of a

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote I’d read a few years ago. He was a pastor during

Hitler’s reign and eventually lost his life for opposing the Third Reich. He

said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.

Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Jesus put it slightly different in

Matthew 12, “Whoever doesn’t gather with me scatters.”

This parable also teaches us that appearances aren’t always what they

seem. The weeds referred to here in our text aren’t your common dandelion

or clover or other weeds that invade your lawn. It’s very likely that it’s

a specific kind of weed called Darnel. It’s a weedy rye grass that closes

resembles wheat as it grows, so much so that some refer to it as “false wheat”

just as we refer to that shiny stuff in sandy water as “fools gold”.

It usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and bears a close

resemblance to wheat until it fully matures and the ear appears on the

stocks. I found a PHOTO OF DARNEL to show you so you could see just

how similar it looks to wheat. It’s interesting to note that Darnel is easily

susceptible to a particular fungal infection and if you were to eat such an

infected plant you’d be overcome with a drunken nausea and possibly even

death.

This is a sober warning to all of us not to be proud or overconfident that

we’re saved and in the kingdom just because we have the appearances of

a “good Christian life”. Remember several months ago Jesus’ warning in

chapter 7:22-23

[22] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy

in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty

works in your name?’ [23] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never

knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The simple fact of the matter is that many look like Christians but aren’t. I

humbly submit to that a certain percentage of us gathered here today who

profess to be Christians don’t actually have saving faith in Christ. There’s

no pretending. There’s no “fake it till you make it.” While you may be able

to fool those around you, there’s no fooling God. He’s not impressed with

imposters.

I say all this not to cause those of you with genuine saving faith to doubt

God’s work of salvation in your heart, but to challenge those of you who

put confidence in being raised in a “Christian” home or having attended

“Christian” school, or having grown up attending church...or any other

external effort to justify yourself to God. You can’t save yourself by turning

yourself from a weed into wheat. The Son of God has to make you a new

creation Himself.

Having said that, a third observation from this parable applies to those of

us whom God has saved. It is not our time or place to judge, in witch-hunt

like fashion, those who pretend to know God. We don’t need to get out the

ortho or the Round-Up weed killer and start getting’ trigger happy. If Jesus’

restrains the angels from pulling the weeds before the proper time because

He’s concerned they’d inadvertently harm the wheat, how much more careful

should we be! In 1 Cor 4:4-5 we hear Paul exhorting the church at Corinth

along these same lines:

[4] For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby

acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. [5] Therefore do not pronounce

judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light

the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the

heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Whereas we don’t have the authority to judge in any final sense of approving

or condemning, we ARE called to exercise a discerning judgment in humility

as we invite people to repent of their sinful “weedy-ness” and be reconciled

to God. We do that in humility because we ourselves are works in progress

and there are certainly parts of my heart and mind that, if you could see them

and that’s all you knew of me, you’d swear I needed to be pulled. So we

exercise gentle humility in helping others fight sin in their lives.

It’s kind of like if you ever asked me to help weed your garden. I’m not

much of a green thumb. I know what a tree is. I know what roses, dahlias,

daisies and some other flowers are. But for some of the smaller plants and

ground cover, I have the hardest time telling what’s good and what’s a weed.

If you’re ignorant like me, you don’t know where the flowers stop and the

weeds start.

So I constantly have ask the Gardner for help in discerning between what’s

good and bad, between what’s healthy and harmful, so as to make sure I

don’t harm the garden. We would all do well to proceed with grace and

humility when God seems to reveal an area of sin in another’s life that needs

to be weeded out.

Jesus’ Kingdom Is Coming – The Day of Judgment

Moving on in our text from the Kingdom has Come to the Kingdom is

Coming, what do these two parables about weeds and nets teach us about

God’s kingdom that is still coming in its totality? Two things stand out to

me. The first is that Christ is returning someday soon to fully usher in His

Kingdom and on that day, EVERY human who has ever lived will face

judgment before His throne. I think that’s one of the major purposes of these

parables – to remind us that this life is not all there is. The Lord is returning

soon. For those who suffer injustice, like our brothers and sisters presently

suffering and being killed at the hands of ISIS in the middle east it’s easy to

feel like God has forsaken you and that wrongs will never be made right.

Conversely, for those of us who don’t suffer persecution for our faith, but

actually enjoy a lot of (even too much) comfort, we need to be awakened

from our slumber that this is not our home and that a greater, far more

satisfying and enduring home awaits us. Whatever our present lot in life, the

Day of the Lord is coming soon. There’s no escaping it.

2 Peter 3: 9-10 tells us,

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but

is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all

should reach repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a

thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly

bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works

that are done on it will be exposed.”

When that day comes, will you be found on the side of the Son of Man, or of

satan? There’s no middle ground.

I think another major point of this parable is to force us to think about a very

unpleasant idea. Everyone loves to read books and watch movies about a

young boy’s experience of how heaven is for real, but I think it’s safe to

wager that the “Hell is for Real” type books, and yes you can get several on

Amazon, don’t sell nearly as many copies.

Jesus wants to make it very clear that on the day of Judgment there will be

2 types of people going to 2 types of places. Those who’ve trusted in His

grace and will enjoy the new heavens and new earth with Him, and those who

reject his pardon to spend an eternity in the torment of hell, apart from God,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Based on what we study in the Bible, we

are not a church that holds to universalism – that in the end, everyone goes to

heaven. We’re also not a church that holds to annihilationism – that those in

Hell will eventually be snuffed out by God and cease to exist or experience

torment. Hell, in our understanding and belief is eternal conscious torment

and anguish as a result of rejecting God’s free and unmerited offer of pardon

through Christ.

It’s hard to want to come face to face with the reality of Hell. satan certainly

doesn’t want us to and has deployed many men and women under his

influence to downplay and dismiss the idea of hell out of our culture. We

often don’t want to face it because we have friends and family, past and

present, who are blind to their sinful rebellion and their need for salvation.

The thought of them suffering in hell, many of whom who are or were very

pleasant to be around, is too much to bear.

But ignoring or minimizing this horrendous reality doesn’t serve anyone.

And God doesn’t need to be made more PC through some good PR. He

needs people who will speak hard truth in love and humility.

Given that we don’t think about hell much, it’s hard to know what to think

about it. Let me provide some framing for your understanding regarding

what it is and isn’t. First it’s a place of torment and not torture. God doesn’t

maliciously or capriciously derive sadistic pleasure by torturing people for

their sin. They’re left to experience the existential torment of having rejected

the Son of God. One can feel tormented and haunted by one’s choices

without God playing an active role in that.

Second, hell is a completely appropriate response to unforgiven sin. Hell

only seems like overkill because we minimize the God-belittling horror of

our sinfulness. Even though we are finite, He is holy, infinite – the Supreme

Authority - , and any sin against an infinite God has infinite repercussions.

The fact is, rather than starting with what we think we know about the evil

of our sin, which is very little, we ought to start with the punishment our sin

deserves and reverse-engineer from there to begin to understand how heinous

sin is to God.

EX: Wife vs IRS income example

EX: Judge pardoning rape or murder – We want a just judge!

What’s more, grace and mercy lose all meaning if there’s no justice, wrath or

punishment. The cross makes no sense at all in the absence of Hell.

So while it’s a gritty, unpleasant reality, Hell is a reality nonetheless that

we have to come to grips with. One of the ways we do that, I think, is to

make sure we’re keeping 1st

KNOW that God is Loving and Just and Good in all His judgments. We

can’t let go of that. If we hold on to and confess those truths, I believe He’ll

expand our minds and hearts to have the categories and framework we need

to see how the existence of hell doesn’t make Him out to be a monster.

things 1st

but starting with what we know. We

Good News

That’s some heavy, sobering news that I want to balance out with some

amazingly good news about this coming kingdom. Verse 41 of our text today

says, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his

kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers and throw them into the fiery

furnace.”

As we’ve already been talking, isn’t that our greatest enemy? Sin against a

holy God and the wrath we deserve for breaking His commandments? And

Jesus says that the angels will gather out of His kingdom ALL/EVERY cause

of sin. I don’t know about you, but when I read that, my heart drops for a

moment and I’m terrified. Why? Because I’M a cause of sin. I’m a law-
breaker. I deserve to be cast into the fire and burned. We ALL do. So why

don’t we? Because the King is merciful.

If you’re in Christ, before the foundation, of the world He predestined us to

be good seed - to trust in Him. But scripture makes very clear that every one

of us has been a weed. There is no one righteous – no not one. But Christ

justified us and sees us as a beautiful field of wheat even though there’s

much about is that is still very weed-like.

But the gospel good news is even better than that. Even those weedy areas of

sin and immaturity are gradually being overcome by the sanctifying power of

the Spirit so that what we are in Position before God we’re also becoming in

practice. EXAMPLE – EUSTACE AS DRAGON.

And don’t miss the merciful patience of God in all this. At the first sight

of the presence of sin and of offense against the holy God, the angels were

ready to start pulling weeds. But God in his grace delays and urges patience

because scripture makes it very clear that He isn’t willing that any should

perish.

The final part of this gospel chain gives me the most joy right now. This

parable is told from the vantage point of the end of this age as we know it.

This is when we’ll be glorified. Jesus says that after our gathering into his

“barn”, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their

Father.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m so looking forward to the day when the

only thoughts on my mind and heart are wholly centered around the beauty

and perfection and splendor of God and not on all my brokenness. I get

tired of fighting against my sinful flesh – thinking too much and too often

about myself and my needs, battling pride, fighting lust, trying to overcome

apathy and indifference. I long for the day when all of that will be swallowed

up and done away. When our wills will be sealed and cemented toward

righteousness rather than bent toward sin. I look forward to that day when

you and I will shine like the sun to the glory and praise of our Father in His

Kingdom. Paul captures the contrast between now and then this way in 2

Corinthians 5:1-5

[1] For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed,

we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal

in the heavens. [2] For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our

heavenly dwelling, [3] if indeed by putting it on we may not be

found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being

burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be

further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

[5] He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us

the Spirit as a guarantee.

In closing, how should we live in response to this good news. Notice that

while Christ restrains the angles from pulling weeds, he doesn’t restrain or

confine the wheat in any way. One of the first commandments our original

parents received was to be fruitful and multiply. It’s the nature of plants to

spread their seed and reproduce themselves, not just to remain the frozen-
chosen. Let’s get outside ourselves and get on mission to invite those who

are lost in this world to put their trust in Christ before it’s too late.

More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II

September 14, 2014

Rejecting Jesus | Matthew 13:53-58 (Mville)

September 7, 2014

Parables of Kingdom Power and Price | Matthew 13 (Mville)

August 17, 2014

Jesus Rebukes | Matthew 12:38-50 (Mville)