Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

Jesus has a crowd so he tells a story about a guy sowing some seeds. He explains what happens to seeds as they fell in different places.
Seeds that fell on the path were eaten by birds.
Seeds that were on rocks with little soil grew quickly but were scorched by the sun since they had a poor root system.
Seeds that fell near thorns were choked by the growing thorns.
Seeds that fell on good soil produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The Purpose of the Parables

Very confusing passage to me. I don't feel like I can really even give a proper summary as I don't really understand it. My best guess is he tells them there is a prophecy that those that hear don't hear and those that see don't see. This is fulfilled in their enemies but not his followers as they understand what they see and hear. 

Is he basically saying he is talking in code so only his people understand?

The Parable of the Sower Explained

The sower is anyone preaching the word of God I guess. The various places the seed landed correspond to how the message was received.

If the word of God is not understood, that is the evil one snatching away what has been sown in his heart like the seed on the path.

I guess that's like me with the last section, damn you Satan.

The seed which has been sown on rock is like a person who takes the word of God immediately with joy but doesn't have roots in his own heart, any hardship rips it away.

The thorns are like people who instead focus on the riches of  the world instead of the word of God.

The good soil is obviously listening to the word and really taking it in and understanding it.

The Parable of the Weeds

Another parable. A man sows good seeds in his field, and while he is sleeping an enemy sows weeds along with the good seeds. The man's servants ask if they should get the weeds out and he says not to, you might get out the wheat as well. Let them grow and at harvest time we will differentiate them.

Live in peace and let God sort out the details after you die. 

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, even though it is smaller than all of the other seeds, it grows bigger.

It actually says "it is the smallest seed". I've heard that this is actually false and God, being all knowing, should not have made this mistake. I suppose one could counter by saying it is the smallest in the field in this story. Or perhaps it is the smallest that the group of people listening would know.

"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened"

What is the lesson here? The kingdom of heaven can spread if it is kept secret?

Prophecy and Parables

Jesus only spoke to this crowd in parables to fulfill a prophecy.

So did Jesus do it for the express purpose of fulfilling a prophecy, or was it what he wanted to do and it happened to fulfill a prophecy? Because if you do something with the intention of fulfilling a prophecy it losing it's meaning. Is it fulfilling a prophecy when my waiter brings me what I ordered?

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

Jesus says he is the one sowing the good seeds, the field is the world, the weeds are the sons of the evil one and the sower of them is the devil.

Is the devil and "the evil one" not the same?

The harvest is the close of the age. The righteous will go to heaven and the rest will go to the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure a man found in a field and the covered up. He then sells everything he owns to buy the field.

That seems like a shady thing to do. Not that I can say for sure I would never do such a thing, but I'd feel bad about it.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl merchant finding one of great value and selling everything he has in order to buy it.

This seems more legitimate to me.

The Parable of the Net

The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net which catches all kinds of things and the fisherman have to sort the good from the bad. In the same way, at the end of the age the angels will separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace.

More talk of throwing people into hell

New and Old Treasures

"Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old"

It sounds to me like he is saying the old testament is as important as the new testament. Any other interpretation?

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Jesus goes back to his hometown and teaches his parables there. People are amazed at his wisdom and can't believe he was a carpenter's son. They took offense at him. He said he does not do works there because of their unbelief.

Much like the sermon on the mount, I don't see what everyone is so amazed by. It seems like a mixed bag to me, some of what he says is good, some is bad. Maybe there is some kind of historical perspective I am missing.

Honestly, this reminds me of poorly written movies, where a character is supposed to have some trait and the other characters just react as if it was the case. A good example is the attractive girl who is a bit nerdy (but still hot) and everyone treats her as if she is ugly until her transformation half way through the movie. Or the guy who is supposed to be charming but the actor can't pull it off so they just have the women swoon around him constantly.


  1. Before I go to sleep I have a comment for your last reflection about what you have read so far...

    As a Christian, this is very interesting for me to read. I have to say I chuckled at some of your commentary while wasn't exactly pleased with others...

    When I came across your blog, I read your explanation for why you were doing this: you have a valid point and it's a great reason. I think you will find that reading the Bible is difficult and you will be really confused many times, especially if you are coming from a non-christian background.

    One thing that I've noticed throughout your comments is a trend where you label some information "good" or "bad." This to me seems to be your lack of understanding of what the message really is...

    And you can't really understand what the Bible is until you have faith and really begin to dig deep.

    I've been raised Christian, but I didn't really begin to understand what it was all about until I was in my late teens. Only recently have I really started to dig deeper and learn more about what the Bible. let's just say I have been blown away completely and there is no way I can convey it to you because
    1) You will not believe me
    2) It's impossible for you understand right now

    I hope you continue reading the Bible, and take a step further and start doing some research. There's a lot more I feel like I can explain, but at this point I don't know if I should. :)

  2. Thanks for reading, and thanks even more for commenting :)

    As I am reading, there is definitely some stuff I know I completely don't understand, there is also some things that I have a sense that I am missing something but can't put my finger on it. I'm also sure there are things I think I get but I am missing the point (at least in part).

    I think you shouldn't worry too much about me not completely understanding something you have to say. In my opinion, if it produces an interesting conversation it is worth the effort. And if at the end of it we both understand each other's position just a little bit more it is definitely a positive in my book.

    It is an interesting point that you think I am calling things good or bad too quick. I have been largely going on first impressions, perhaps I have been too quick to judge. I'll keep that in mind in future. [disclaimer: I'm leaving town a few days and have preloaded a few days worth of posts, so this might not be reflected right away]

  3. I like the discussion on your board Hausdorff and Anzhelika. It's nice to get different perspectives.. :) I grew up Catholic and remained in the church until my late teens myself. I didn't really study the bible until a few years ago. It's nice to have an open forum to discuss our opinions on such an important book.

    I do want to point out 2 Peter 1:20-21 again. "knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." The way I read this is that we are to take the word of the Bible at face value and not to put our own "spin" on it.

    Parables: Here Jesus does seem to say that he speaks in parables so only certain people can understand.. However (I know I'm being kind of douchey pointing out contradictions), but John 18:20 Jesus says that he does NOT speak in parables. I've felt like there are so many contradictions in the bible that I've searched for explanations to explain away these differences, but I've never really been satisfied. Most of the things I've read (in my experience) seem to point to stuff that is conjecture without any real factual basis.

    Verse 35 "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world." I think this is a misquote of Psalms 78:2-3, which says "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us." While similar, I feel that they are different enough to call a misquote.

    The verses about hell.. There area lot of places in the bible that say things like sinners just "die" and that's it. I've never been able to reconcile these differences or have anyone explain them that didn't involve coming up with stuff that isn't stated in the bible itself.

    Also, it took me a while to figure out what didn't settle right with me. (besides another reference to his brothers) I finally realized it was that those that knew him best in his hometown rejected him. If anybody should have figured out that he was the savior, it would have been them. They had firsthand witnesses to Jesus and knew him personally.

  4. JKerber: To your second paragraph, it sounds to me like it is specifically referring to prophecy. It doesn't necessarily generalize to other things in the bible. Perhaps there are some things that are intentionally written to be open to interpretation as to be more applicable to a wider range of situations and people, but the prophecies are specific and not open to interpretation. (Just making stuff up, but it seems consistent with the verse you quoted)

    Your quote from John 18:20 is interesting. He does seem to be claiming that he never talked in code which seems to contradict things here. Is he lying or incorrect? Or are we missing something?

    1. You are probably right.. The way I see it is that it applies to all of the biblical passages. Even so, it is a tough passage to justify certain prophecies like Jesus repeatedly saying that he'd come within the lifetime of his followers.

      Here is the thing about John 18:20. It is hard to reconcile the two verses. Here is a justification I found here

      "Cleared-up "Bible Contradictions"

      by abuGian

      Did Jesus say anything secretly? (a) No. “I have said nothing secretly” (John 18:20). (b) Yes. “He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything” (Mark 4:34). The disciples asked him “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:10-11).

      "Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." John 18:20.
      "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples." Mark 4:34.

      "10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." Matthew 13:10-11.

      Answer. Did Jesus teach in secret? No. (John 18:20), nor did He plot to topple any institution. In Matthew 13:10 and Mark 4:34; He taught parables with meaning hidden in mysteries which he later explained to his disciples. Parables are teaching devices used by rabbis before and even after Jesus' death and resurrection."

      I did some more searching, but got pretty much the same response, but I wasn't too impressed with the explanation.

    2. One thing that occurred to me (the Peter thing) is how often if I point out something as being possibly absurd, someone will tell me that "oh, its a metaphor." Would that fall under the category of "prophecy" or being open to interpretation? Just throwing that out there.

    3. yeah, I don't find those explanations for this contradiction particularly convincing either.

      As to people passing things off as a metaphor. I would try to ask them to explain the metaphor. I have seen some people do that to try to stop the conversation, which is BS. If that is the case you should call them on it. However, if they aren't trying to simply stop the conversation but really do see it as a metaphor it might lead to an interesting discussion.


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