The King of Stories -- Parables of the Kingdom

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

Notice, by the way, that in effect we're looking at the Scriptural "Part 2" to the "Sermon on the Mount" here. (Except that it turned out to be the Sermon on the Boat. {g}) Keep in mind that right before lunch there was some serious opposition from a scribal deputation visiting from Jerusalem for the Pharisee party. Jesus isn't being arbitrary about a switch to primarily parabolic teaching here. He's got a specific target of criticism in mind. (Hint: it isn't the crowd or populations generally. Or even one particular group in total.)

Parables of the Kingdom

On that day (says the Disciple, in harmony with the Follower and the Scholar), Jesus went out of the house (implying He did go eat lunch with His family when they called to Him!), and went down to the lake again to teach (the Follower says), and sat by the lake. And a most numerous throng from every city gathered toward Him, so that He stepped into a boat and sat down, and all the crowd stood on the beach.

Now He speaks many things to them in parables, saying in His teaching:

"Listen! See here! The sower came out to sow his seeds.

"Now as he sowed, indeed some fell beside the road where it was trampled--and the birds arrived and ate them up.

"Yet others fell on rocky places having not much earth, and without delay the seeds sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched: they had no root and therefore had no moisture, so they withered.

"Yet others fell among the thorns, and thorns came up together with them, smothering them; and they produced no fruit (or grain).

"But others fell into good earth, and sprouting up they grew, and yielded grain--some a hundred, others sixty, others thirty-fold."

And as He said these things, He would cry out: "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear!!"

He presented another parable to them (tells the Disciple), saying:

"The kingdom of God is like someone who sows good seed in his own field. But while the people are sleeping, his enemy came and sowed in darnels (a weed resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went away.

"Now the slaves of the householder came to him and said: 'Sir! Did you not sow good seed in your field? Where then has the darnel come from?'

"And he declares: 'An enemy person does this!!'

"Now the slaves are saying to him: 'So, do you want us to go and cull them?'

"Yet he declares: 'Absolutely not!! lest at some time while culling the darnel you also root up the grain! Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, "Cull the darnel first and bind them into bundles (with the intent) toward burning them up. But gather the grain into my barn."'"

And He was saying (adds the Follower): "The kingdom of God is like someone who casts his seed on earth; and goes to sleep at night and wakes up every morning; and the seed sprouts up and grows--how, he doesn't know. The soil does its own thing in making crops: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the crop is ready to go, he straightway sends the sickle: for the harvest is here!"

And He also said (according to the three Synoptic storytellers): "How shall we compare the kingdom of God? What parable shall we present it by?

"The kingdom of God is like a seed of mustard--the smallest seed when someone sows it in his garden-field of earth; and yet when it is grown, it comes up greater than the garden plants, so that (as the Psalmist and Prophets say) the birds of heaven may be nesting in its branches like a tree!"

And again (say the Scholar and Disciple) He spoke another parable to them saying:
"To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?

"The kingdom of God is like some leaven (yeast), which a woman, getting, hides within three pecks of meal; (and the leaven spreads) until it all was leavened."

[Note: it's pretty daring to illustrate the kingdom of God using some traditional Jewish imagery for sin!]


Many such things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; and (at this time) He did not speak to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the (Psalmist) prophet would be filled (says the Disciple), saying:

I will open My mouth in parables;
I will release things hidden from the disruption!

Then He sent the crowds away, and went into (His) house.


As soon as He was in seclusion, His disciples came to Him; and those around Him asked Him, "Why do you speak in parables?"

And He said to them in answer: "You have been allowed to know the secrets of God's kingdom; but this has not been granted to them. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because (I see) they see and hear yet will not see and hear, nor do they understand--for Isaiah's prophecy is being filled in them:

With a hearing you will hear, but absolutely will not understand;
and seeing you will see yet absolutely will not see!

For these people dull their hearts,
and with their ears they heavily hear,
and with their eyes they squint;

lest with their eyes they should be seeing,
and be hearing with their ears,
and choose to understand
and return
and be healed
by Me.

"Yet happy be your eyes, because they see!--and your ears, for they are hearing!

"For I tell you truly: many prophets and men of fairness, yearn to see what you are seeing, and cannot; and to hear what you are hearing, and cannot.

"Therefore," He was saying to them, "be careful how you listen! For it shall be measured to you by the standard that you measure; and whoever may be having, to him more shall be given, but whoever may not be having, even what he seems to have shall be removed from him."

Now His disciples questioned Him as to what the parable of the sower means.

And He said: "Have you not seen this parable? And how will you understand all the parables?

"Hear the parable of the sower, then:

"The sower sows the Word.

"Those beside the road are those who hear, but from whom Satan instantly comes and takes away the Word which has been sown in them, lest they believe and so be saved.

"Similarly, on the stony places are the ones who, when they hear, receive the Word with joy--but have no root; and so believe throughout a season. Then in times of trial, persecution or affliction for the Word, they are not getting over this; and so they fall away.

"Now falling among the thorns are those who hear the Word, but are seduced by riches and desires and worries of the age, which stifle what the Word can do--and so there is no fruit and nothing comes to maturation.

"But in good earth--in the hearts that are ideal--they hear the Word and understand, agree with it, retain it, and bear fruit with perseverance by all means: these a hundred, those a sixty, over there a thirtyfold."

Now His disciples (says the Disciple) inquire of Him and say, "Explain to us the parable about the darnels in the field."

And He replies: "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.

"And the field, is the world.

"And the good seeds are the kingdom's children.

"And the darnels are the children of the evil one.

"And the enemy who sowed them is the Adversary.

"And the harvest is the consummation of the age.

"And the reapers are the angels.

"Even as the darnels then are being culled and burned up in the fire, the ending of the age shall also be. The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall be culling from His kingdom all the stumbling blocks and rebels and be casting them into a fiery furnace--lamentations shall be there, and gnashing of the teeth.

"Then (as Daniel says in prophecy) the fair ones shall be shining as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father!

"Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear!

"The kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in the field, which someone finding hides, and in his joy he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field!

"Again; a merchant seeking ideal pearls is like God's kingdom--finding one of precious value, he goes forth and selling all he has, he buys it!

"Again; the kingdom of God is like a dragnet cast into the sea, gathering every species; and when it was full, they hauled it on the beach and being seated culled the good fish into crocks--yet the rotten they cast out. This is how the consummation of the age will be: the angels will be coming out and will be separating out the evil from the just, casting them into a fiery furnace.

"There will be wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

"Do you understand these things?"

They answered, yes.

He said to them: "Every scribe disciple in God's kingdom is thus like a household head who brings forth from his treasures new and old.

"Now, no one after lighting a lamp covers it with a measuring-basket, nor does he put it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, in order that those who come inside may see the light.

"For nothing is hidden that shall not be revealed, nor anything secret that shall not be made known and come to light."

And so, He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

And it happened when Jesus finished these parables, He withdrew from there.

Matthew 13:1-53
Mark 4:1-34
Luke 8:4-18
Luke 13:18-21

[Next time: Enemy Forces]


Rachel said…
Hey Jason,
thought you might be interested (if you don't already know about) the conversation going on over at Jason Clark's blog:
Jason Pratt said…
Thanks, Rachel; no I hadn't heard about it. I'll check in.

I liked your pastor's comment about existing forever, btw. {g}


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