Day 12

Jesus Speaks in Parables

from the Matthew reading plan


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

BY Guest Writer

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.

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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.

Post Comments (60)

60 thoughts on "Jesus Speaks in Parables"

  1. Carolyn says:

    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!

    1. Joann says:

      Oh wow. I didn’t see it this way. This is so good. Thanks for sharing! Amen!

  2. M says:

    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!

    1. J says:

      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.

    2. Rebecca says:

      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.

    3. Corey says:

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

    4. Lisa says:

      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

    5. Courtney Duerr says:

      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! ❤️

    6. Cassy says:

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

    7. Sarahlet says:

      I’m scared/anxious of reading my Bible because sometimes I read things that make me question God and His goodness and then I feel like I’m blaspheming even for thinking those doubts. I’ve never heard anyone else share the same sentiment but it is amazing to know that I’m not the only one. Thanks for your courage in sharing M and I will pray for you.

    8. KC Derond says:

      I sometimes have the same problem, so I purchased “The Message”. It puts whatever version of the Bible you’re reading into contemporary language – SO much easier to grasp the concept! I’ll read the verses in my NIV Bible, and then read the same group of verses in my Message Bible (it breaks it down into small groups of verses at a time). Even in the parables, it helps me understand what Jesus is saying a little bit better. It’s really turned my devotional study around.

  3. Jessica says:

    Amen to that! So good.

  4. AimeeJoy says:

    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.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never heard it put this way. That’s really cool.

    2. KimN says:

      Love this!!! Thank you AimeeJoy!

  5. Lori Hamilton says:

    Amen

  6. Mari says:

    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.

    1. KimN says:

      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!!!!

      1. Mari says:

        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.

        1. KimN says:

          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

    2. Irina says:

      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]

  7. Diane Huntsman says:

    “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.

    1. Carol Ames says:

      Well said

  8. Caitlin Maxey says:

    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.

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