Christ's Parables and the Kingdom

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Christ's Parables and the Kingdom

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In His teaching, Jesus often compared the coming Kingdom to common situations in people’s lives. These messages are known as parables.

Most people assume Christ used this method of teaching to make the truth more easily understood. Jesus Himself said the opposite is true. “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given . . . Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’ ” (Matthew 13:10-13 Matthew 13:10-13 10 And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? 11 He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
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Jesus did not expect everyone to understand His parables about the Kingdom, either in His days on earth or now. “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it . . .” (Matthew 13:14-17 Matthew 13:14-17 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly I say to you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
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Jesus then explained the parable of the sower. The sown seed was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19 Matthew 13:19When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
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). Next He gave the three most common reasons most people don’t understand what He called “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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He first gave the example of a person who is so deceived by Satan that he lacks the spiritual depth even to grasp the meaning of the message (Matthew 13:19 Matthew 13:19When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
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). Next He gave the example of one who “stumbles” at the word when “tribulation or persecution arises” (Matthew 13:20-21 Matthew 13:20-21 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; 21 Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
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). Then comes the example of one “who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 Matthew 13:22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
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Last is the positive example of one who hears and understands Christ’s teachings concerning the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:23 Matthew 13:23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
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), the person who hears and believes the message, then acts on that information to produce abundant spiritual fruit.