Matthew: Day 12

Jesus Speaks in Parables

by

Today's Text: Matthew 13:1-52, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-52, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

Until last year, I had never seen the movie Star Wars. This was the cinematic equivalent of blasphemy for my in-laws, my friends—pretty much everyone else in the world, really. Star Wars is part of our cultural lexicon, but when you’ve never seen it, most references to it go unnoticed. It’s as if fans of the film franchise speak another language when they talk about it. Sure, I was familiar with the line, “Luke, I am your father,” but anything more than that, and I was totally lost. I’d heard about Star Wars a lot, but I’d never understood the context of what I was hearing. And I certainly couldn’t contribute to the conversation.

When Jesus taught in parables, He was speaking to two audiences. Some, like His disciples, understood what He was teaching. And if they didn’t understand, they would ask Jesus to explain. Others belonged to the “you will hear but never understand” camp (Matthew 13:14). Much like being a part of a conversation about a movie you’ve never seen or a book you’ve never read, the latter audience could tune out Jesus’ message.

Jesus knew that by speaking in parables, His message would get through to the right people—the people who would open their hearts to Him and who would work to see the kingdom of God flourish. He also knew that the people who were out to get Him (the Pharisees, the Romans) would not understand the parables, and so to some degree, parables were a protective measure.

Reading the parable of the sower, I wonder where I land on the spectrum of listeners. As Jesus sows the seeds of His message, how receptive are my heart and mind? Do I have a hard heart and closed eyes when I read Scripture? Do I read the difficult parts with the same rigor and delight as I do the easier passages? Do I cling to the Jesus who heals and pardons, and shy away from the Jesus who turns over tables and calls out sinners? Do I let the double-edged sword of Scripture do its good, sanctifying work in me?

Eugene Peterson wrote it this way in The Message: “They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

I know my heart is rocky and full of weeds that choke out the Word. The parable of the sower exposes my idols, holding them up to the light of Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God, about the freedom and peace He, and He alone, brings. But I am tempted to fall away when trials come, turning to my own strength instead of the Word of God. I chase the material, the next-best, and the greener grass, instead of running relentlessly after Jesus alone. My faith is weak, even when I long for it to somehow be enough.

The remedy for my fallow heart is the Word.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). May it be so with us. May we be eager listeners with hearts rich with fertile ground, anxious know His teaching, and ready to whatever He asks of us.

SRT-Matthew-Instagram-12

Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing, and reading in Nashville, Tennessee. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables. She writes online at www.melanie-rainer.com.

Leave a Reply to Tina Cancel reply

/

  • Jo Gistand

    Oh I love this— my heart is so easily distracted and choked up by the things of this world. I pray that he continues to reveal himself
    To me through his Word

  • I feel like this devotion was the perfect follow up for the passage. I struggled reading the passage with actually listening to what I was reading and internalizing rather than doing it to check a box. Lord may I flourish in your word.

  • Julie L

    This passage where Jesus tells parables in an intentionally unclear manner has always struck me as odd. Why would Jesus want to make his teachings unclear? The Star Wars analogy helped to shed some light on this for me, especially because I’ve never seen that series either. I’m don’t really like sci-fi movies, but I also resist giving in to the cultural phenomenon. I think this is the same concept for those who cannot understand Jesus’ parables. Living in ignorance because I don’t really like what Jesus has to say about topic X or simply being stubborn and refusing to bow down to Him with sin Y. I still have some mental wrestling to do with this, but I appreciate the insight this devotional brought!

  • Ellie Shepherd

    I love what you said about having a weak faith, even when you want so badly for Jesus to be all you need.

    That’s something I’ve been working with daily. I’ve been facing trials in every direction lately, and I’ve felt like my life is completely falling apart. A lady from my church spoke some words to me that have made such a difference. She said, “You know God is doing something big in your life. That’s why you continue to pray. But instead of praying for all the things that are going wrong – all the issues you’re having – start praying in praise and thanks for what he’s doing. Praise him for the outcome. Praise him for what he’s shifting and moving to make all things work together for your good. Because he’s about to blow your mind.” When I started praying this way – I could feel my faith strengthening. We get sad and hurt when things happen – and it’s human to feel those emotions. But if we lean heavily into Christ and pursue his heart, thanking him along the way, our faith will be strengthened and he will do things we could never imagine. Loved this today!

    • Larissa Wiebelhaus

      Love this! I, too, have found this to work and it changes my whole outlook on my life! Thank you for sharing! Praying for you! ♥️

  • Carolyn

    Verses 44-46 really stood out to me. We hear the phrase “all in”. These examples show us that when we find the treasure of the Kingdom we should be ready to be all in! The man sells all he has to get the treasure in the field. The one searching for the pearl sells all to buy the one of great value. We cannot keep part of the world to get the treasure of the kingdom, we must sell all of our old ways and life to obtain this treasure! This treasure is of such value it is worth all to obtain! Jesus! The gift of grace! Mercy! The kingdom of God!

  • I have some anxiety problems in my daily life but recently I have been anxious to read the Bible because I cannot really understand it. This brings on more anxiety especially after reading today’s message. Please pray for me and for understanding and peace from God!

    • J

      M, I can identify with this– This topic has been something that the Lord has been speaking to me about recently through this SRT/scripture readings and other conversations. Part of the problem for me when I read and get anxious is that I get all caught up in understanding the information, which for me has to do with my need to control. In short– I overcomplicate God’s simple truths. It may sound silly, but a way that my faith has grown is by reading my kid’s Jesus Story Book Bible (sometimes to them, sometimes alone). I also find that reciting stories of God’s work in my life and in the Bible Stories helps remind me of those simple truths that we can SO overthink in adulthood. You may also benefit from digging into the word with a friend who has a little more bible knowledge or even a face to face bible study. Hope this helps and that you are able to find freedom and rest in the gospel.

    • Rebecca

      Praying for you. Keep reading. For me, Bible studies like this one, help me to understand more. You are doing great – just keep at it, and know that you are not alone in your anxiety, and that it will be okay.

    • Corey

      M, I’m with you! These parables had me scratching me head, wondering what the heck they are supposed to mean.

    • Lisa

      You’re definitely not alone. I rely so much on SRT and other study sources who brake things down and explain the reading. I’m sure overtime in being in Gods word he will bring us understanding if we continue to seek. Also I LOVE the advice of reading children’s books, so great! Many times if I’m still a little confused after completing the study, I’ll hop on over to He Reads truth and read the study there as well, they follow the same outline! <3

    • Courtney Duerr

      What I find helpful, is once I keep reading and I feel like I understand, I go back to this teaching and re read. I sometimes feel lost and discouraged when I feel like I am not understanding what he is saying. But going back and re reading does help it simmer in my brain! ❤️

    • Cassy

      Purchasing a study Bible has helped me understand and enlighten the sometimes confusing language of the Bible. Don’t give up!

  • Jessica

    Amen to that! So good.

  • AimeeJoy

    I love how in the business of planting and growing fruit-producing crops, there is opportunity for fertilization. When a farmer is preparing land to be good soil, he may have several seasons of fruitless crops. When the fruitless crops die, they nourish the soil and add to its richness. That way, next season, the crops have a better chance to grow in good soil and produce fruit. The plants’ death and rebirth each season allows nutrient-lacking soil to slowly gain more nutrients until it is good and rich soil. Sometimes, without realizing it, my soul is rocky soil. But God is faithful to keep planting seeds until my soil is rich and I can receive his words. Therefore, it is important that I recognize and let infertile plants go so that I can pursue the Lord in his process of making my heart fertile. Perhaps those moments when I or someone else reads the scripture and the seed falls on rocky soil, it is simply about letting the infertile plant die. I wonder how often I try to make an infertile seed bear fruit when it is the soil that needs fertilization. And God is faithful to scatter new seed. He is a redemptive God.

  • Lori Hamilton

    Amen

  • I really enjoyed this lesson today. I think about what can I give when I’m going through such hard times. But God uses anything and everything. I pray that I may be ready at any time. Please pray as today is my daughter’s 12th birthday. She is so excited to have friends over. Yet it’s a hard time as we continue to be separated from their dad. But for now we are going to enjoy this day. My heart is glad to see her excitement.

    • KimN

      I’m so glad that you can enjoy moments of joy during a time of struggle. Happy Birthday to your dear girl and continued prayers for you!
      How are you? Sending you lots of love and hugs on this difficult road! God is faithful & He uses all things to His good purpose!!!!

      • Mari

        Thank you for praying KimN. She’s having a great time. And I’m doing ok. Right now I’m having few moments of somewhat quietness LOL! I’m blessed that my daughter has good friends who are so supportive . God is good and HE provided for the few things I had to get for her party.

        • KimN

          Lol!! With kids, you take what quietness you can get sometimes!!! Lean into the One who holds you by the hand – He will never let go! xoxox

    • Irina

      Hi Mary! I prayed that you and your family would see the sun even in those dark circumstances that you are in now. I was wandering if I could help you in some way to ease your financial situation….you can email me at [email protected]

  • Diane Huntsman

    “The remedy for my fallow heart is the Word.” Not my friends, my phone, my amazon prime or any other earthly thing I automatically turn to for a “fix” I need complete saturation in the Words of the life giver Himself.. Jesus. What foolishness I portray when I turn to anything but Him and His blue print for living.

  • Caitlin Maxey

    Love love love this lesson this morning. Convicting in a very tender way…which, for the camp of “those who listen and understand”, I think was exactly what Jesus was doing.
    Lord, make my life like the good soil. Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see, and do not allow the world and all of its trappings to choke out your word.

  • Kelly Chataine

    A little leaven leavens the entire lump. Many commentaries refer to other people being a bad influence on believers and on the church. I do not disagree. However, God wants me to look at my thoughts, words and actions. What thoughts are in me that are spoiling my devotion to God? There are words that I use that are not pleasing to God. Which actions are spoiling my testimony and example? The Holy Spirit is urging me to look closely, to reflect, to confess, receive forgiveness and be renewed in Him! Praise God!

    • KimN

      Amen! I’m there with you this morning in noticing that passage as a friend asked why me why I use self deprecating humor. Initially I didn’t think it was a big deal but as I have continued to ponder that I realize that either somewhere in my heart I DO actually think those things or that my joking could certainly be planting those seeds in my heart.
      So I share in your prayer for renewal and forgiveness that my life may “shine like the sun” for the glory of God! Thank you for your thoughts today!

  • Martha Hix

    ❤️

  • Courtney

    The parables are some of the Bible’s most important scripture and some of my favorite teachings of Jesus. The devotional part of today’s reading help me understand them much better!

  • Jennette Nye

    This morning as I sit here reading God’s word and this devotion I can’t help but think about how much more my heart I need to turn over to Him!
    He wants all of me- good, bad, sad, and whatever else. May I live out His word and may I share the love of Jesus today freely ❤️

  • This has been something that has been weighing on my heart for a couple of weeks now. My husband and I sat down one evening and we got on the subject of the book of Revelation. I told him something I thought I knew and he corrected me and said, very gentle, you are reading the stuff that makes you comfortable or feel good. It was true, I was afraid of the hard stuff and I was bored with the repetition of Leviticus. (where I had stopped in my journey through the Bible)

    This weighed heavily in my heart. How was I to know and recognize the truth if I wasn’t taking it ALL in, only the feel good. So I prayed for The Holy Spirit to join me in reading Leviticus.

    Since then, my eyes have been so opened in this reading time. When I stop looking for my self in the Word and look for Jesus, it makes the Word like a whole new experience. Our sacrificial Lamb is poured into the book of Leviticus and our sin is shown all over it. Grace is found in Leviticus and hope.

    • Rachel Anne

      I have been there, too! Many times I have set out to read the Bible in a year only to lose steam in Leviticus or Numbers. I pray that we may both meet Jesus on every page of scripture and that we may have the faithfulness to read the Word in the manner in which we are both called.

    • Virginia

      Excellent point… ask the Holy Spirit to join, look for Jesus. Thank you!

  • Karen S

    “Other seeds fell on good soil and produced fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Today we bury my 100 years old grandmother. Of her 12 children and well over 150 grand, great and great great grandchildren, there is a multitude of “good fruit”. I pray that God allows me to continue her beautiful legacy as I plant, till and water the soil of my children and grandchildren.

    Today will be a celebration of a life lived for Jesus. Tears shed will be of sadness as we miss her but of joy too as she is now with her Savior.

    • Churchmouse

      What a legacy! How blessed your family is and I’m trusting the testimony of her life will impact even more.

  • I am the eldest of seven. A role I have grown into. When we were younger, however, and I’m talking a few weeks ago…., only joking, I hated being the eldest. Tina sort so and so out. ? Tina help Joe with his homework.. Tina take the younger two to the park… so I can get some work done… I even thought about changing my name….!
    The younger two…. a right pair! They had their own language…. They talked backwards…their words were pronounced backwards… they could have sold the rest of us a hundred times over, and we would have been none the wiser…. I hated it when they went off into their world and language…and especially when they were teens and they were talking boys and stuff… ugh that was it!

    Here’s the thing… I was so desperate to understand, and no matter how they explained it seemed to fall on deaf ears…. I wonder if that could be ‘the seeds that fell on the path and devoured by the birds’….
    God’s word was like that at the beginning for me… I used to read it like a book… to be honest the old testament lost me at Leviticus…
    But God, all Praise and Glory to Him Who loves me beyond beyond, to Eternity and back, Who pointed me to the Psalms… oh my God, I was home, from Psalm 1 I was hooked, it was written in a language i understood, a speak i recognised, words from the psalmists heart straight to mine. Once I’d got through those, I had a head heart change… I was seeing what once was a blur… an ‘eh’…

    The parables have their hidden treasures, but God guides those of us eager to want to know Him and be in a relationship with Him. We absolutely have the Holy Spirit, and He will guide us straight and rightfully to the source of the parable…
    Thank you Lord God, for your Word that is the source of my life, thank you that your Word Lord God is the truth I need each minute of each day… thank you Lord God that your Word is the banner of love over me… Thank you Lord God, for the strength your Word gives to a weary soul, a hungry heart, a joyfilled being… no matter the state or place we are in or at, Lord God, your Word is a lamp, a guide… thank you Lord God… thank you.xx
    Amen.

    Needless to say, I never truly got the hang of my sisters’ lingo, but I understood enough to save me from ever being sold down the river!

    Happy Friday. And A very Happy and God blessed New Year to you all… xxx

  • Churchmouse

    “Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit : some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown.” Yes I want to produce good fruit but Lord, let me also be content with what I produce. Keep me from comparing myself to others. Let me concentrate on tilling the ground you have given me. Let me water the seed daily. Let me share the crop. You are the Lord of the harvest. The yield is Yours. Let me be content whether it is 100, 60, or 30. Let it all be to Your glory. Amen.

Further Reading...