Never underestimate the power of storytelling. Through storytelling, theological truths and basic precepts become richer, and are more thoroughly understood by the human mind.
Which is one reason the Lord Himself used the power of story as He taught the disciples.
The Kingdom Parables in Matthew 13 were taught to the disciples so that they could understand the mysteries of the Kingdom. Those mysteries involved the future of the Kingdom, and the impact that Christianity would have on the world, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.
Nothing catches the Lord by surprise, and everything happening in the world today is not only being leveraged in His divine plan, but it was foretold to us by the Lord Himself 2,000 years ago.
From the infiltration of sin and apathy in local churches, to scandals involving high profile pastors, to conflict and division among Christians, all was foreseen, and all was foretold by the Lord. Furthermore, the Lord told us through the Kingdom Parables what our response should be.
In understanding these parables, we will understand the trajectory of the Christian faith, and the future of the churches. However, to understand these parables, we must know how to properly interpret them. To properly interpret them, we need the Lord’s special decoder ring, which He gave us in the first parable, the Parable of the Sower.
In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9), Jesus tells the story of a man who sowed seed in his field. Some of the seed fell by the wayside and were gobbled up by the fowl of the air. Some fell on stony places and dried up for lack of roots, some fell among thorns and were choked out, and some fell on good ground and sprang up, bearing fruit.
When the disciples asked why He was speaking in parables, He asked them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all parables?” (Mark 4:13)
In asking that question, Jesus essentially declared that understanding the Parable of the Sower was the key to understanding all parables. This means that the symbolism used in the Parable of the Sower carries over into all the other Kingdom parables.
Jesus then told His disciples what everything symbolized.
The man (the sower) represents the Son of Man, Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:37).
The seed (also referred to as the good seed) is the word of God, the Gospel (Luke 8:11).
The field is the world (Matthew 13:38).
The fowl of the air (birds) are the wicked one, demons, or evil spirits (Matthew 13:19).
The thorns are the cares of the world (Matthew 13:22).
Not specifically mentioned in the Parable of the Sower, but consistent throughout all scripture, is that the leaven represents sin. That is why the Passover and the Lord’s Supper were both celebrated with unleavened bread, because the bread symbolized the body of Christ, and Christ was sinless. Furthermore, the Jews were required to sweep all leaven out of their house at the start of Passover.
There are other symbols used in the Parable of the Sower, but these will resurface in the other Kingdom Parables. Using these symbols, and this interpretation, we will seek to gain an understanding of the current state of Christianity through the Lord’s teaching in the days ahead. In the meantime, read the parables of Matthew 13 using these keys to interpretation, and comment below what you think these parables are teaching us today.