July 18, 2016
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying:
It’s a good moment to recapture our bearings and headings at this point in our pilgrimage through Matthew. New people are always joining us on the journey. We come to the celebrated chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel. Some have considered it the peak of the crescendo of the book itself. Some have seen a numerical correspondence between the books of Moses (a.k.a. the Torah, the Law, the Pentateuch or the first five books of the bible).
Chapter 13 marks talk #3 of Jesus 5 discourses in Matthews account. You will remember talk #1 was the Sermon on the Mount. We know talk #2 as the “Missionary Discourse” which came in chapter 10. Talk #3, which we begin today is known as the “Parabolic Discourse.” Talks #4 and #5, which are yet to come, consist of the discourse on the Church and the discourse on the end of all things and the consummation of the Kingdom.
Let’s call talk #1 the Manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven; talk #2 the Mindset of the Kingdom and talk #3 the Mystery of the Kingdom. I’ll challenge you to help me come up with the “M” descriptions of the last two talks yet to come.
Why does this matter so much? I’m glad you asked. In the midst of Jesus last talk he says, “Heaven and Earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35. These talks contain the core teaching of the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the One who was and who is and who is to come. These words of Jesus are the Word of God. They are the Words of Life. They reveal the Truth by illuminating it as the Way. These words are worthy of a lifetime of learning for anyone who would be a disciple of Jesus. There is no sense in which we can ever say we have “covered” these teachings. We will never exhaust the depths of their revelation. He is literally going over the now near Kingdom of Heaven—line by line—with anyone who is willing to listen.
To set the stage, Jesus will deliver talk #3 from a boat pushed out just off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He will do this because the crowds are so large he will need the acoustical dynamics of the surface of the water to project his voice so all can hear.
I want to offer a caveat as we prepare to hear talk #3, the discourse of the parables, the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus chooses to teach in parables because of the unique capacity they hold to reveal the truth to the humble while hiding it from the proud.
I am myself seeking to grasp the gravity of what is before us. I am coming to grips with the fact that the revelation of the Word of God to me will not exceed the depth of my humility before Jesus. Join me in that.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
See you tomorrow.
1. Are you coming into a closer and deeper relationship with Jesus, the Teacher, as we progress through Matthew’s Gospel?
2. What two or three learnings can you identify at this halfway point?
3. Why do you think humility figures so prominently and is so essential as a core character trait of a disciple of Jesus?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.