07292020 – Matthew 13. Parables of the Kingdom

 

Over the “past few of weeks” of July, we have been “LISTENING TO” the parables found in Matthew’s gospel the 13th chapter.

I say “LISTENING TO” … because that is an IMPORTANT PART of all four of our early gospels.

THEY are about “LISTENING.”  …ABOUT Being “GOOD listeners.”  It’s about “HEARING” what is being said.

We have to KEEP IN MIND, Jesus’ first audience DID NOT READ what was said.  They HEARD IT, first.

It was “ORAL DISCOURSE.”  THE SPOKEN WORD.  And later, oral tradition.

And as you know:  HOW “receptive we are” to HEARING THINGS…is dependent upon “our frame of mind.”

Are we “OPEN?”

Are we “UPSET?”

Are we “otherwise engaged?”

Are we  over “TIRED,” “DRIFTING OFF” “NODDING” and not “FULLY ENGAGED?”  Is our “HEAD” elsewhere?

Are we perhaps ILL and not feeling “up  to par?”  All of “these things” will have a bearing on our HEARING and our RECEPTIVENESS to the WORD.

And “what is” the CONDITION of our HEART?

These STORIES or PARABLES were not told for NO reason.  There was INTENT.  There was PURPOSE.  These stories were supposed to have an IMPACT on us.  They were supposed to make a DIFFERENCE.  If we listen … these stories were meant to CHANGE AND ALTER US. Jesus was telling them because “they taught” about God’s Kingdom.

But they are also meant to IDENTIFY US as “children of THAT kingdom.” The stories are meant to SHOW US, LEAD US and GUIDE US as HOW we are to live in the kingdom.

But, what I want you to UNDERSTAND tonight is that LISTENING was a “key component” to receiving the parables of Jesus. (Especially for an illiterate audience.)

Jesus NEVER SAID, “Let those WITH EYES read along.”

He never once said, OPEN your PEW BIBLES to the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel and FOLLOW ALONG.

He never said, “FLIP YOUR BULLETIN OVER and read the gospel text along with me.”

He said, “everyone who has ears, LISTEN.”  LISTEN!

In Matthew’s gospel, there is “GREAT SIGNIFICANCE” placed on “HEARING the Word of the Lord.”

Which is why, LITURGICALLY, I say, “The Gospel of the Lord!” And you respond, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.”  You have HEARD the word…and are responding to it!  You HEARD it.  You LISTENED.  Your mind (prayerfully) was NOT drifting.

In this, the thirteenth chapter, Matthew uses the word “LISTEN” fifteen times.

“But he also uses the verb … ‘UNDERSTAND’ six times.

In Mark’s version of the parables, he asks us ‘Do you HEAR Jesus’ message?’

But Matthew wants to know, ‘Do you also REALLY UNDERSTAND with your WHOLE heart?’’”

As we HEAR these parables, THEN, we need to be careful NOT to let them go “in one ear and out the other.”  Which, as you know happens, QUITE routinely.

This is not just BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…

This is the WORD OF THE LORD and these words are meant to go deep into our hearts and into our souls.  We are to consider them LATER.  Dwell on them.

Which is why we are ENCOURAGING you to take  your bulletins HOME with you.

Being RECEPTIVE and being OPEN to the WORD is “HUGE.  It is EVERYTHING!”

Allow the parables to RESONATE with you.  These short parables are arranged in PAIRS. The MUSTARD SEED and the YEAST tell of a kingdom that STARTS very SMALL and GROWSreally big.”

The next pair of parables focus on another aspect of the kingdom of heaven. They describe ITS VALUE.

SO FAR, we have “a pair of parables” that show how the kingdom of heaven might seem SMALL and INSIGNIFICANT in the beginning, but it GROWS into something that CANNOT be CONTAINED.

And we have “another PAIR of parables” that describe HOW VALUABLE the kingdom of heaven IS.

All four of these stories hint that the kingdom MAY BE HIDDEN from plain view, for those who do not have EYES to SEE, or EARS TO HEAR.

The DRAGNET FULL OF FISH (like the weeds from last week) is about JUDGMENT.

 

Both parables describe what will happen TO THOSE who IGNORE Jesus’ words.

 

So have YOU heard them?  Do YOU understand them?  Will YOU take them to heart?

I pray it so. 

Amen.