Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014 – Matthew 13 – The Kingdom of Heaven

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does this Passage Say?
  • Jesus lived during a time where most people grew the food they consumed. Some in cities may have purchased food in a market place setting, but still they would have been in touch with what it takes to grow food. Living in our contemporary culture we are not connected as closely with an agrarian culture, but we still for the most part know how plants grow. Jesus audience would have immediately connected with the story Jesus told on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
  • Today our farming practices are very sophisticated. Most farmers place seeds into bins that sit across the top of a planter. Each bin neatly places seeds in the earth separated into their neat rows with each seed allowed the maximum/minimum space needed to become healthy. That is not what happened in the first century. A farmer would till of the earth with a plow that was pulled by some beast of burden, normally an ox. Then he would simply begin chucking seeds out of a pouch allowing it to fall wherever it fell. Not a very efficient way to scatter seeds. This background sets the scene for Jesus story.
  • Jesus disciples have heard His stories before. They often don’t get them, and wander why He teaches this way. Basically Jesus tells them He teaches in stories to better help people understand the Kingdom of Heaven and His mission. Story telling is a very effective communication tool. Jesus teaching and the complexity of it to the hearers is again something predicted by the prophets of old that Matthew reminds us of.
  • Jesus purpose in telling this story is to compare the seed with the seed of the good news of what Jesus is doing. Some will fall on good soil; others will fall on shallow soil, others on rocky soil, and others on the path. Each type of soil will produce different results. So the same will be with our preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus.
  • Jesus then illustrates that our preaching and teaching won’t be easy. He did so by using another agrarian illustration. A farmer sowed seed and his enemy came behind him and sowed a weed that looks similar to the good seed. We are going to face something similar. While we preach truth, our world is going to constantly preach negative; preach lust, greed, self-indulgence, sex, and so many things that are not of God. God will be the one to separate at the ends days the good from the bad. We must preach regardless the soil, regardless the other messages bombarding, God will judge. Jesus reinforces that with the fishing story towards the end of the reading.
  • The next two stories of Jesus are about yeast and mustard seeds. Both represent small things that blossom into big things. Yeast causes bread to rise. A mustard seed becomes a large plant. While Jesus kingdom will start small, it will not remain small. We have work to do.
  • Do you seek after God and His kingdom, and the life that came with it? You should. It holds more value than anything on this earth. That is the way the man who found a treasure felt. He sold all he had to buy a field because the treasure was worth more than the field and more than all his possessions. This is the value of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 What is this passage teaching?
  • All but the last section of this chapter deal with the Kingdom of Heaven. We have a responsibility in building and growing the Kingdom of Heavy. Jesus outlines that we are to constantly be chucking the seed of the gospel, allowing it to fall in many different places. It won’t be easy. The devil is out there filling the minds of those we are chucking seeds to with his own destructive message. But God will judge all. To those whom the good seeds take hold, they will become part of the Kingdom of Heaven and while they may be few in number, they will permeate culture and they will have the power to transform the world.

 How can I apply this passage to my life?

  • You and I are the mustard seed. It may seem that the church in America is getting smaller and smaller, and it may be. But we must remember that we are mustard seeds. We have the mission and responsibility of taking the message of the gospel to all the world. Letting people know about the Kingdom of Heaven. Don’t see it as an uphill battle. View it as a responsibility regardless of the struggles that it entails. 
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