Matthew 13 – The Parable of the Sower & Wining and Dining with the Romans

According to the below article, the Romans, even being cruel and barbaric, weren’t drunks or pigs which are sins.

“Be not among winebibbers: among riotous eaters of flesh:

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Prov 23:20-12).

Yet, I have read in other places that after their dinner parties they were not only pigs and drunks, but perverts as well.  Paul will tell us more about that in the book of Acts.

Of course, it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t violent, or not gluttons, or not drunks, or not perverts because they didn’t have faith in Jesus and without Jesus we have nothing.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

Ancient time is usually considered to be before Jesus Christ was born, but not all things ceased being used after the birth.  Let’s look at…

Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

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

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

“Parables” – our word “parable” comes from the Greek parabole, which means “a placing beside” – and thus a comparison or an illustration.  Its most common used in the New Testament is for the illustrative stories that Jesus drew from nature and human life.

The Synoptic Gospels contain about 30 of these stories.  John’s Gospel contains no parables but uses other figures of speech.

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

“Stony places” – not ground covered with small stones, but shallow soil on top of solid rock.

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to specifically as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar wording. They stand in contrast to John, whose content is comparatively distinct. The term synoptic comes from the Greek syn, meaning “together”, and optic, meaning “seen”.

This strong parallelism among the three gospels in content, arrangement, and specific language is widely attributed to literary interdependence. The question of the precise nature of their literary relationship—the “synoptic problem”—has been a topic of lively debate for centuries and has been described as “the most fascinating literary enigma of all time”

The longstanding majority view favors Marcan priority, in which both Matthew and Luke have made direct use of the Gospel of Mark as a source, and further holds that Matthew and Luke also drew from an additional hypothetical document, called Q.

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

“A hundredfold” – the point is, the quantity of increase depends on the quality of soil, or in other words, the quantity of the love for others depends on the quality of that person’s love for Jesus Christ.

9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

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.

“Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” – in the New Testament “mystery” refers to something God has revealed to His people.  The mystery (that which was previously unknown) is proclaimed to all, but only those who have faith understand.  In this context the mystery seems to be that the kingdom of God had drawn near in the coming of Jesus Christ.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

13:13-14 – Jesus speaks in parables because of the spiritual dullness of the people.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye 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 verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired 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.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

“The wicked one” – is always the devil unless it says so otherwise.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath hereceived seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33).

“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto” – this phrase introduces six of the seven parables in this chapter, all but the parable of the sower.

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

“Tares” – this parable doesn’t refer to unbelievers in the professing church.  The field is the world.  Thus the people of the kingdom olive side by side with the people of the evil one.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

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:

13:31-32 – although the kingdom will seem to have an insignificant beginning it will eventually spread throughout the world.

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

“Least of all seeds…greatest among herbs” – the mustard seed isn’t the smallest seed known today, but it was the smallest seed used by farmers and gardeners in the Holy Land, and under favorable conditions the plant could reach some ten feet in height.

“A tree…the branches thereof” – this could be an allusion to Dan 4:21, suggesting that the kingdom of heaven will expand to world dominion and that people from all nations will fend rest in it (cf. Dan 2:35, 44-45, 7:27; Rev 11:15), or it could picture evil coming into the kingdom, since the birds in v. 4 are interpreted as “the wicked one” in v. 19.

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.

In the Bible, leaven usually symbolizes that which is evil or unclean.  Here it could picture evil, or possibly be a symbol of growth.  As leaven permeates a batch of dough, so the kingdom of heaven spreads through a person’s life.  Or it may signify the growth of the kingdom by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (using God’s word).

34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

“Spoken by the prophet’ – the quotation is from Ps 78, a psalm ascribed to Asaph, who according to 2 Chr 29:30 was a “seer” (prophet).

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

A mustard seed once germinated becomes a full grown tree.
The same with faith, it is a small thing in the beginning, but cling to God and it will blossom into a beautiful and powerful flower.

37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

“Furnace of fire” – often mentioned in connection with the final judgment in apocalyptic literature (see Rev 19:20, 20:14).  Notice that the fire of the parable (v. 40) is clearly said to be fire in Christ’s interpretation.

If you were downtown and looked across the street over the parked cars and saw someone rushing intently to push a little old lady over, what would you think of that person? Would your opinion of this person change if you later discovered that the cars you were looking over obscured your view of this person actually pushing this little old lady out of the way of a speeding sports car which was hurtling towards her and about to hit her? Sometimes, a bigger picture changes the entire picture!

The same if you want to understand God you must read and comprehend the entire Bible and even more so, spend some quality time with Him. I don’t mean meditating like the Islams or other lunatics, I mean “TALK TO HIM” like you talk to a friend.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

13:44-46 – These two parables teach the same truth: the kingdom is of such great value that one should be willing to give up all he has in order to gain it.  Jesus didn’t imply that one can purchase the kingdom of God with money or good deeds.

“Treasure hid in a field” – in ancient times it was common to hide treasure in the ground since there was no widespread equivalent of modern bank vaults for the safekeeping of funds – though there were “exchangers” (see Matt 25:27).

Sometimes one unexpectedly stumbles across the gospel message, without searching for it, as with finding this treasure.

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

“Seeking goodly pearls” – the pearl was found after a diligent search, in contrast to the treasure.

46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

Archaeological research has revealed that a funerary and cult center at Kfar HaHoresh, about two miles (3.2 km) from current Nazareth, dates back roughly 9000 years to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B era.

The remains of some 65 individuals were found, buried under huge horizontal headstone structures, some of which consisted of up to 3 tons of locally produced white plaster. Decorated human skulls uncovered there have led archaeologists to identify Kfar HaHoresh as a major cult centre in that era

 13:47-51 – the parable of the net teaches the same general lesson as the parable of the tares: There will be a final separation of the righteous and the wicked.  The parable of the tares also emphasizes that we are not to try to make such a separation now and that this is entirely the Lord’s business (vv. 28-30, 41-42).

48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel. Until the beginning of the British Mandate in Palestine (1922–1948), the population was predominantly Arab Christian (majority Orthodox Christians), with an Arab Muslim minority.

In 2009, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Nazareth’s population was 69% Muslim and 30.9% Christian.

The current mayor is a Christian. The greater Nazareth metropolis area had a population of 210,000, including 125,000 (59%) Israeli Arabs and 85,000 Jews (41%). It is the only urban area with over 50,000 residents in Israel where the majority of the population is Arab.

Concludes a teaching section and introduces a narrative section (cf. 7:28-29).

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

“His own country” – Nazareth.

55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

“Carpenter’s son” – the word translated “carpenter” could mean “stonemason.”  Joseph may or may not have been living at the time of this incident.

“Brethren” – sons born to Joseph and Mary after the virgin birth of Jesus (Matt 1:25).

56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

“Sisters” – they too were born after Jesus was born (Matt 1:25).

57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.

58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

“Unbelief” – the close relationship between faith and miracles is stressed in Matthew’s Gospel.

 

Wining and Dining with the Romans

Unlike the Greeks, whose banquets or drinking parties were often all-male affairs, Romans gathered for festive meals in groups that frequently included men, women, and children. Guests reclined on couches and, in wealthy households, were served by slaves.

Scenes like this sometimes occurred after Roman banquets, when men who had had plenty to drink let their togas down in mixed company.

After nibbling on delicacies that included eggs, oysters, fish, and fowl, diners tossed the shells and bones aside. Wine flowed freely, often mixed with honey or water, allowing people to imbibe without becoming drunk.

Sometimes, the women and children retired early, and the men who remained might be entertained by courtesans.

Romans were of two minds about the lavish banquets. Some thought that their society was too extravagant for its own good and that Rome was going soft.

Others embraced the philosophy “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

Such epicureans savored pleasures but did not necessarily approve of eating or drink to excess. Romans prized self-control and pitied those who were slaves to their appetites or passions.

…the Roman Calendar.