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Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:10-17

The Messiah Teaches with Parables

(Matthew 13:1-23)



1.  Referred to as the “Busy Day” because so much is told of this day that it serves as a specimen of many such days in the ministry of Christ.

2.  As he preached the gospel of the kingdom, Jesus used a variety of methods to teach: Sermons, visual aids, questions to incite examination, illustrations, parables, etc.

3.  From His use of parables we learn what they are, their purpose, what they mean and their intended results (for them and for us).



  A.  “Lit., Denotes a Placing Beside” (Vine, III:158).

    1.  “It signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison.” (Ibid.)

    2.  A narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances whose object is to teach a spiritual lesson.

  B.  What Parables are not:

    1.  Not fables (animals, trees, etc. don’t talk in them, Jug. 9:7-15): Parables are true to life.

    2.  Not myths (Myth told as if it really happened): Parable is an illustration of truth based on actual, day-to-day happenings.

    3.  Not a proverb (Short, pithy truism). Parable is a narrative that may or may not be lengthy.

  C.  Jesus did not Invent Parables, but His Use Excels all Others.

    1.  OT example, 2 Sam. 12:1-4.

    2.  His parables are full of wisdom and instruction; used to “seek and save the lost” (Matt. 13:1-2).



  A.  To Teach and Reveal Spiritual Lessons. (cf. the definition of parable. This was Jesus’ constant purpose in teaching.)

  B.  Jesus did not Use Parables to Intentionally Hide Truth from People, but to Reveal, Matt. 13:9-11, 34-35 (Psa. 78:1-4).

    1.  He is “the Word” who revealed truth (Jno. 1:14-17).

    2.  He is “the Light” of the world (Jno. 8:12).

  C.  What does Jesus Mean by “to them it is not given?” Matt. 13:11-15

    1.  That some men will not understand and learn the truth that the parables teach. (Did not have ears to hear! Matt. 13:9)

    2.  So then, the important question is who would understand the parables? Jesus tells us who has “ears to hear” and who does not.

    3.  “Them” - Those in Matt. 13:10, 13 (seeing see not, hearing hear not, neither understand – cf. Jno. 9:41).

      a.  13:14-15: Those who don’t desire truth, refuse to hear it and accept it – because they believe they already have the truth!

      b.  Thus, they are incapable of learning truth (cf. Rom. 8:6).

      c.  Those with hard hearts toward truth will not/cannot learn it (cf. Jno. 8:43).


    4.  Matt. 13:16-17: Those with open minds and honest hearts can and will learn the truth of the gospel (Jno. 7:14-17).

    5.  And, since hearts can be changed, Jesus used various teaching techniques (incl. parables) in an effort to open hearts/minds!



  A.  The Condition of the Heart Determines whether the Parables are Understood and Obeyed or Rejected, Matt. 13:15-17 (Mk. 4:11-12).

    1.  Isa. 6:9-10: Spiritual state of Israel then and in the days of Jesus.

    2.  Therefore, could not understand the parables (gospel of kingdom).

    3.  Parable of Sower illustrates hearts that come into contact with the word of the gospel (then and now)!

    4.  Mk. 4:13: This parable key to understanding all the parables.

  B.  Explanation given by Jesus, Matt. 13:18-23.

    1.  Hear (akouō: understand, perceive, attend to) the parable.

    2.  Two principles of interpreting parables (McGarvey):

      a.  When Jesus himself gives an interpretation it must be accepted as final and exhaustive.

      b.  Only those points in the mind of the author should have a place in the interpretation.



1.  Do you have ears to hear? Matt. 13:9

2.  That question is answered by the kind of heart you have and how you respond to God’s word in your life.