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    CHAPTER 13

    Mt 13:1-52. JESUS TEACHES BY PARABLES. ( = Mr 4:1-34; Lu 8:4-18; 13:18-20).

    Introduction (Mt 13:1-3).

    1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside.

    2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship--the article in the received text lacks authority
    - and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore--How graphic this picture!--no doubt from the pen of an eye-witness, himself impressed with the scene. It was "the same day" on which the foregoing solemn discourse was delivered, when His kindred thought Him "beside Himself" for His indifference to food and repose--that same day retiring to the seashore of Galilee; and there seating Himself, perhaps for coolness and rest, the crowds again flock around Him, and He is fain to push off from them, in the boat usually kept in readiness for Him; yet only to begin, without waiting to rest, a new course of teaching by parables to the eager multitudes that lined the shore. To the parables of our Lord there is nothing in all language to be compared, for simplicity, grace, fulness, and variety of spiritual teaching. They are adapted to all classes and stages of advancement, being understood by each according to the measure of his spiritual capacity.

    3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, &c.--These parables are SEVEN in number; and it is not a little remarkable that while this is the sacred number, the first FOUR of them were spoken to the mixed multitude, while the remaining THREE were spoken to the Twelve in private--these divisions, four and three, being themselves notable in the symbolical arithmetic of Scripture. Another thing remarkable in the structure of these parables is, that while the first of the Seven--that of the Sower--is of the nature of an Introduction to the whole, the remaining Six consist of three pairs--the Second and Seventh, the Third and Fourth, and the Fifth and Sixth, corresponding to each other; each pair setting forth the same general truths, but with a certain diversity of aspect. All this can hardly be accidental.

    First Parable: THE SOWER (Mt 13:3-9, 18-23).

    This parable may be entitled, THE EFFECT OF THE WORD DEPENDENT ON THE STATE OF THE HEART. For the exposition of this parable, see on Mr 4:1-9, 14-20.

    Reason for Teaching in Parables (Mt 13:10-17).

    10. And the disciples came, and said unto him--"they that were with Him, when they were alone" (Mr 4:10).
    - Why speakest thou to them in parables?--Though before this He had couched some things in the parabolic form, for more vivid illustration, it would appear that He now, for the first time, formally employed this method of teaching.

    11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven--The word "mysteries" in Scripture is not used in its classical sense--of religious secrets, nor yet of things incomprehensible, or in their own nature difficult to be understood--but in the sense of things of purely divine revelation, and, usually, things darkly announced under the ancient economy, and during all that period darkly understood, but fully published under the Gospel (1Co 2:6-10; Eph 3:3-6, 8, 9). "The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," then, mean those glorious Gospel truths which at that time only the more advanced disciples could appreciate, and they but partially.
    - but to them it is not given--(See on Mt 11:25). Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and concealing; presenting "the mysteries of the kingdom" to those who know and relish them, though in never so small a degree, in a new and attractive light; but to those who are insensible to spiritual things yielding only, as so many tales, some temporary entertainment.

    12. For whosoever hath--that is, keeps; as a thing which he values.
    - to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance--He will be rewarded by an increase of what he so much prizes.
    - but whosoever hath not--who lets this go or lie unused, as a thing on which he sets no value.
    - from him shall be taken away even that he hath--or as it is in Luke (Lu 8:18), "what he seemeth to have," or, thinketh he hath. This is a principle of immense importance, and, like other weighty sayings, appears to have been uttered by our Lord on more than one occasion, and in different connections. (See on Mt 25:9). As a great ethical principle, we see it in operation everywhere, under the general law of habit; in virtue of which moral principles become stronger by exercise, while by disuse, or the exercise of their contraries, they wax weaker, and at length expire. The same principle reigns in the intellectual world, and even in the animal--if not in the vegetable also--as the facts of physiology sufficiently prove. Here, however, it is viewed as a divine ordination, as a judicial retribution in continual operation under the divine administration.

    13. Therefore speak I to them in parables--which our Lord, be it observed, did not begin to do till His miracles were malignantly ascribed to Satan.
    - because they seeing, see not--They "saw," for the light shone on them as never light shone before; but they "saw not," for they closed their eyes.
    - and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand--They "heard," for He taught them who "spake as never man spake"; but they "heard not," for they took nothing in, apprehending not the soul-penetrating, life-giving words addressed to them. In Mark and Luke (Mr 4:12; Lu 8:10), what is here expressed as a human fact is represented as the fulfilment of a divine purpose--"that seeing they may see, and not perceive," &c. The explanation of this lies in the statement of the foregoing verse--that, by a fixed law of the divine administration, the duty men voluntarily refuse to do, and in point of fact do not do, they at length become morally incapable of doing.

    14. And in them is fulfilled--rather, "is fulfilling," or "is receiving its fulfilment."
    - the prophecy of Esaias, which saith-- (Isa 6:9, 10 --here quoted according to the Septuagint).
    - By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, &c.--They were thus judicially sealed up under the darkness and obduracy which they deliberately preferred to the light and healing which Jesus brought nigh to them.

    16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your cars, for they hear--that is, "Happy ye, whose eyes and ears, voluntarily and gladly opened, are drinking in the light divine."

    17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired--rather, "coveted."
    - to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them--Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In Lu 10:23, 24, where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy--the words, instead of "many prophets and righteous men," are "many prophets and kings"; for several of the Old Testament saints were kings.

    Second and Seventh Parables or First Pair:

    THE WHEAT AND THE TARES, and THE GOOD AND BAD FISH (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50).

    The subject of both these parables--which teach the same truth, with a slight diversity of aspect--is:


    The Tares and the Wheat (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).

    24, 36-38. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field--Happily for us, these exquisite parables are, with like charming simplicity and clearness, expounded to us by the Great Preacher Himself. Accordingly, we pass to: Mt 13:36-38. See on Mt 13:36; Mt 13:38

    25, 38, 39. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way--(See on Mt 13:38, 39).

    26. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also--the growth in both cases running parallel, as antagonistic principles are seen to do.

    27. So the servants of the householder came--that is, Christ's ministers.
    - and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?--This well expresses the surprise, disappointment, and anxiety of Christ's faithful servants and people at the discovery of "false brethren" among the members of the Church.

    28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this--Kind words these from a good Husbandman, honorably clearing His faithful servants of the wrong done to his field.
    - The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?--Compare with this the question of James and John (Lu 9:54), "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume" those Samaritans? In this kind of zeal there is usually a large mixture of carnal heat. (See Jas 1:20).

    29. But he said, Nay--"It will be done in due time, but not now, nor is it your business."
    - lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them--Nothing could more clearly or forcibly teach the difficulty of distinguishing the two classes, and the high probability that in the attempt to do so these will be confounded.

    30, 39. Let both grow together--that is, in the visible Church.
    - until the harvest--till the one have ripened for full salvation, the other for destruction. (See on Mt 13:39).
    - and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers--(See on Mt 13:39).
    - Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them--"in the fire" (Mt 13:40).
    - but gather the wheat into my barn--Christ, as the Judge, will separate the two classes (as in Mt 25:32). It will be observed that the tares are burned before the wheat is housed; in the exposition of the parable (Mt 13:41, 43) the same order is observed: and the same in Mt 25:46 --as if, in some literal sense, "with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked" (Ps 91:8).

    Third and Fourth Parables or Second Pair:

    THE MUSTARD SEED and THE LEAVEN (Mt 13:31-33).

    The subject of both these parables, as of the first pair, is the same, but under a slight diversity of aspect, namely--


    The Mustard Seed (Mt 13:31, 32).

    31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field;

    32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds--not absolutely, but popularly and proverbially, as in Lu 17:6, "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed," that is, "never so little faith."
    - but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs--not absolutely, but in relation to the small size of the seed, and in warm latitudes proverbially great.
    - and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof--This is added, no doubt, to express the amplitude of the tree. But as this seed has a hot, fiery vigor, gives out its best virtues when bruised, and is grateful to the taste of birds, which are accordingly attracted to its branches both for shelter and food, is it straining the parable, asks TRENCH, to suppose that, besides the wonderful growth of His kingdom, our Lord selected this seed to illustrate further the shelter, repose and blessedness it is destined to afford to the nations of the world?

    The Leaven (Mt 13:33).

    33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened--This parable, while it teaches the same general truth as the foregoing one, holds forth, perhaps, rather the inward growth of the kingdom, while "the Mustard Seed" seems to point chiefly to the outward. It being a woman's work to knead, it seems a refinement to say that "the woman" here represents the GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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