Kingdom Uprising

Reclaiming Jesus' Hope, Gospel, and Way

Month: May 2017

Matthew 13.19: The Parable of The Sower and The Kingdom of God

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. (Matt. 13.19 NASB)

Matthew 13 can easily be called the kingdom chapter. In this chapter Jesus disseminates seven parables that unveil the message of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is compared to a costly pearl, where everything should be sold to obtain it. The Kingdom of God is like leaven. That is, it’s influence starts small but soon grows and infects¬†everything. The first parable that Jesus compares the kingdom with is about a farmer tossing seed and it falling on various surfaces. The farmer’s seed lands upon four surfaces: the road, the rocky places, the thorns, and the good soil.

Jesus identifies that the seed the farmer is tossing is really “the word of the kingdom”. In other posts on Matthew, we have seen that Jesus has been preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven (the terms ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘kingdom of God’ are identical to each other click here). Thus, “the word of the kingdom” that Jesus is speaking of is the gospel of the kingdom.

Notice what Jesus says about this ‘word of the kingdom’. Anyone who hears it and does not understand it, the evil one, the adversary, the enemy comes and snatches away¬†the kingdom message that has been sown in their heart. The verb translated “snatch” has the image of taking something by force or taking something violently. In short, the enemy wants to rip the gospel of the kingdom out of the hearts of those who hear it. We also learn other important bits of information concerning this parable in the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke.

According to Mark:

And [Jesus] said to them, “Do yo not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. (Mark 4. 13-14 NASB italics mine)

We learn two details from Mark’s account:

  1. The parable of the sower is the most important parable that Jesus teaches. We must understand it or we can’t understand the other parables.
  2. Not only is Satan violent in taking the kingdom message, but also he reacts immediately to it.

According to Luke:

Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. (Luke 8. 11-12 NASB)

We learn two details from Luke’s account:

  1. The “word of God” as defined in the gospels, is not the bible, but the gospel of the kingdom of God.
  2. This message of the kingdom is a matter of life and death.

The parable of sower, found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is the most important parable Jesus taught and it was about the kingdom of God. In short, we learn that kingdom message is meant for all, but the enemy does not want you to have this life giving message of hope.

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Matt. 9.35: The bookend of Matthew’s kingdom section

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matt. 9.35) NASB

Matthew 9.35 is nearly parallel to Matthew 4.23-together they form an inclusio. An inclusio is a rhetorical device used by an author to bracket a section of material that belongs together. The beginning of the inclusio starts the section, the inclusio at the end marks that section off. In addition, the inclusio informs the reader what the contents will be about. In the case of Matthew 4.23 through 9.35 the contents are focused on three actions that Jesus preforms: teaching, proclaiming, and healing. The foundation that these three actions are rooted in is the kingdom of God.

The material between Matthew 4.23 and 9.35 can be broken into two sections: chapters 5-7 and chapters 8-9. What was Jesus teaching? What was he proclaiming? The kingdom of God. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 expound on what Jesus was proclaiming and teaching, otherwise known as the sermon on the mount. But Matthew also tells us that Jesus was healing all diseases and sicknesses that were brought to him. In chapters 8-9 a bevy of miraculous healings are reported:

  1. Jesus cleansed a leper – Matt. 8.2-3
  2. Jesus healed a Centurin’s servant is healed from paralysis – Matt. 8.5-7
  3. Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law from sickness and fever – Matt. 8.14-15
  4. Jesus exercises demons from two men in the country of Gadarenes – Matt. 8.28-32
  5. Jesus heals a paralyzed man – Matt. 9.2-6
  6. Jesus raised back to life the daughter of a synagogue official – Matt. 9.18, 23-24
  7. Jesus heals a woman with chronic bleeding – Matt. 9.20-22
  8. Jesus heals two blind men – Matt. 9.27-30
  9. Jesus heals a mute demon possessed man – Matt. 9.32-33

What is Matthew trying to tell his audience? What is he telling us? The gospel of the kingdom that Jesus is preaching manifests itself in an enhanced ethical system that cuts to the heart of the matter and the reality of that kingdom brings with it great healing power for all: Jews, gentiles, men, women, and children.

What does it mean when we read that Jesus was preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom? Matthew 4.23 – 9.35 tell us the power, reality, and true good news that the kingdom of God brings. For Jesus, this kingdom was gospel.

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