In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, there is the Sermon on the Sea, which our Lord preached from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A great crowd was assembled on the beach listening to him as he delivered eight parables, which he called the secrets, or mysteries, of the kingdom of heaven. These seven parables constitute a view of the age following our Lord's appearance on earth, the present age in which we live.
Matt 13 is hinge in the literary structure of the book. It is a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. In Matt 13 Jesus begins talking about the mystery form of the kingdom by telling parables. We know that because in 13:10 the disciples asked Jesus why he was speaking in parables. He answers that he is revealing the mysteries of the kingdom.
In Matt 13 we have eight parables. Six begin with the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is like...” The first one doesn’t begin that way, but we know it is about the kingdom from its explanation in 13:19. The last one doesn’t begin that way, but it talks about a disciple of the kingdom.
Each parable is like a mystery novel with certain clues given to guide us to the meaning. In this lesson, I want us to look at the first one. Like any good teacher, the Lord began by interpreting the first two parables for us so that we would understand them. By helping the disciples with the first two, Jesus gave them the pattern of interpretation, the process to follow in discovering what the other parables mean. Then he left them on their own, as he does us, with a little additional help on the last parable. This story is about a farmer who broadcasts his seed. (Matthew 13:3-9).
Each of the elements of the story has an explanation and a corresponding truth connected with it. Jesus begins to explain it section by section, which is the way he wants us to study these parables.
He begins with the seed. You notice that he does not say anything specific about who the sower is, though in the next parable he does. However, here it can be anyone who sows the seed.
The important thing to notice is what the seed is. Jesus says it is "the word of the kingdom," i.e., the word about the existence of an invisible spiritual kingdom all around us which is very essential to us, and from which all our lives are governed, and to which they all must relate.
The word of the kingdom, then, is the gospel.
Tomorrow, I will write about the soil.