Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing the secrets of the kingdom in Your Word. Thank You for revealing Jesus as the focal point of Your revelation, the new and better Moses, the Son of God, the Great I AM. Help us have ears to hear Your Word; help us believe in Christ and worship You with a clean heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Matthew 13-15
Matthew 13:1–14:12 Jesus spoke in parables because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven are only revealed to those who have ears to hear. Believers first need new spiritual ears to accept Jesus’ explanation of the kingdom of heaven. Notice that Jesus is still Lord, even if many reject Him and His kingship.
Parables usually have one main point.
Even to His followers, Jesus’ idea of the kingdom was radical and unexpected. Notice how His kingdom begins small and insignificant, transforming people in invisible ways (13:31–33). Notice also how it grows quietly alongside other evil kingdoms. It’s like the same seed scattered on different soils that produces different responses. Be willing to scatter the gospel widely, praying it falls on good soil.
Matthew 14:13–36 Notice that Jesus is at the center of this new kingdom. He is the new and better Moses who teaches and provides abundant bread in desolate places. He is the Son of God, the Great I AM who has authority over all creation. His care, provision, and authority are real and sufficient for believers.
Matthew 15:1–20 The traditions religion develops cannot be equated with God’s values, and Jesus explains that God is most concerned with people’s hearts, intentions, and motives. External religion and rule-keeping can never make someone right with God. Similarly, one cannot claim to honor God while hanging on to traditions that clash with His values. Christ changes His people from the inside out.
Matthew 15:21–39 Jesus compassionately extends His healing power outside the Jewish people, demonstrating that His new kingdom family includes people from all places and backgrounds. As they turn to Him to receive teaching, He sympathizes with and even meets the most basic physical needs of His followers.
Matthew 13:10-11, 17-19
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ 11 And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ . . . 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 18‘Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.’
- Jesus says a person’s words and motivations are what make them clean or unclean to God. Though a person may have correct external forms, genuine worship and God-honoring living begins with the heart, the center of our being. The Christian life is not made up of just going through the proper motions. Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you any places where your heart’s disposition is not pleasing to Him. Confess and repent of those attitudes.
- Reread and prayerfully reflect on the parables in our reading today, particularly what they teach about God’s rule. Consider how their main ideas should motivate us to be disciple-makers now, not later. Remember Jesus’ words: the kingdom may start small, but it will finish big!
- Choose one or two parables from this section, and practice explaining it to a fellow believer. Commit to integrate that parable in your conversations over the next week.
- Begin spiritual conversations with those you come in contact this week and begin sowing the seed of the gospel widely and broadly!
- If you’re married, invite a married couple you respect over and ask them questions about their relationship. If you’re single, invite a single person whom you respect over and ask him or her questions about their life as a single person. [Healthy Relationships]