BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 5: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:24-30:  Another parable Jesus told was of a man who sowed good seed in his field but while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds alongside the seed.  Once the wheat and the weeds sprouted, the farmer will first pull the weeds and then harvest the wheat so as not to pull up the wheat with the weeds.

Matthew 13:36-43:  Jesus explained this parable by saying the farmer was him, the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed are believers, the weeds are unbelievers, the enemy is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  At the end of the age, the angels will weed out all the evil and sin in the world and will throw them into the furnace.  Then the righteous will shine.

Questions:

12a)  The Son of Man (Jesus)

b)  The sons of the kingdom (believers)

c)  Earth

d)  The sons of the evil one one (unbelievers)

e)  The end of the age (Jesus’ Second Coming)

f)  Angels

13a)  He is sneaky and crafty.  He does come when we are least aware, when we are weak, when we are unprepared, when we are distracted, when we are needy.  He comes at our weakest point, when we are furthest from God.

b)  He said because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Basically, you may damage the wheat along with the weeds.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  According to these verses, because Christians themselves will rise up and distort the truth or they will turn their ears away from the truth to myths and hear only what they want to hear because they do not like what they hear.

There has been and will continue to be Christians who don’t like what the Bible has to say so they ignore those parts and say it doesn’t apply to them or they will misconstrue the meaning and say it means something else.  An example are those who blatantly ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality and marriage.

Many Christians live how they want to live despite what the Bible says.  They are hypocrites and know it but continue to live in their sin instead of changing it.

Living a Christian life is hard work and many in today’s society aren’t up for the challenge.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  It gives me strength to know at the end of the day all my struggles and trials will all be worth it and are just temporary for I have a permanent home in heaven.

Conclusions:  I would say this is one of the best explained parables by Jesus in the Bible.  Very straight-forward and very encouraging.  Although I liked Question 13c, it really had nothing to do with this passage and I am not for sure why it was thrown in there.  Nothing else to ask?  Hmmm….

End Notes:  The commentaries I read said the weeds represent corruption (or false believers) amongst the people of God so people of God who are corrupt (hence why BSF asked 13c).  Well, I submit if they are false believers, then they are unbelievers and hence are not God’s people.

This parable show’s it is God’s job to judge at the end of the day, not man’s, and it is God who will call out the professed “believers” who truly aren’t.  Our job here on Earth is to follow God in our lives and do His purpose.  What others do, we should care about, but not judge them righteous or not.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 4: Matthew 13:9-17, 34-35

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:9-17:  Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Thus, those who have him, will be given more.  Furthermore, the parables fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10, which says those who do not hear nor see have a calloused heart and if they turned they would see and hear.  But those that do hear and see the Truth are blessed because many who long to hear and see the Truth are unable.

Matthew 13:34-35:  This quotes Psalm 78:2 how Jesus will speak in parables when he comes.

Questions:

9a)  First, Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Second, Jesus speaks in parables to fulfill prophecy.

b)  Most had rejected Jesus and the parables are meant to conceal truth from those who do not see or hear.  And these people who do not have will lose what has been given to them.  They will see the parables as mere stories and will thus not turn more against God.  In this way, God is merciful.

c)   To those who are blessed with the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven more will be given to them and they will have an abundance (verse 11-12).  They will understand more through the parables and will have a deeper relationship with God.  They will be blessed (verse 16).

d)  Part-personal question.  Jesus said they are blessed by their knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven and they will be given an abundance.  I lead a pretty blessed and abundant life.  All of my needs are met (and many of my wants).  I feel utterly humbled and privileged to be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth and I try to take that responsibility seriously every day of my life as I convey God’s greatness to those around me.

10)  Both Mark and Luke say whoever has will be given more and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.  Mark says with the measure you use, more will be measured to you.  Matthew is saying whoever understands God and Jesus and His kingdom will be blessed and receive more because of it.  Whoever rejects Jesus and God and His kingdom will lose everything.

11a)  People, although physically able to see and hear, were not spiritually able to see and hear the message for their hearts were hardened towards him and his message.  Otherwise, if they heard, they would be healed.  They were against him with no hope of salvation.  So he had come for those who would hear and see him.

b)  This describes those who are going through the motions only; who attend church with no real desire to be more like Jesus; who pretend to be God-like but their actions show they are not; whose heart is not God’s.  The world and their experiences have hardened them to the word to the point they barely hear and see.  God wants all of us and He wants to be first in our lives.  Otherwise, we aren’t hearing nor seeing Him.

Conclusions:  I guess this day answers my qualm’s with Day 2 but I still would prefer chronological or at least have us read the whole passage and then focus on small bits so we’d know Jesus’ reasons while answering the rest of the questions.  I read the whole passage anyways and I prefer to have the whole picture instead of just snippets of Jesus.  There’s so much we don’t know that I need to know what we do know.

Admittedly, I had to read commentaries to understand the intricacies of these passages.  On the surface, it just appears as if Jesus tells cool stories.  But there is so much more to the parables as we learned through these questions, which show God’s extreme love for us, his people, and his love for the unbelievers as well whom he shows both mercy to and whom he warns as well.  God is such an awesome God!

Fun Fact:  Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” 32 times in his book.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 3: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Questions:

7)  Before the message is even received, it is snatched away.  Satan does not even want us to hear it.  This is done when people have a bad impression of the church to the point they won’t go and hear.  Or Christians in general and they won’t hear a testimony.  Or he perverts the message.  He hardens our hearts to the Word to the point it never penetrates.  This is sad.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I don’t give God my worries and instead I carry them around I am no longer focusing or trusting in Him but am relying on myself to solve my problems.  When wants and desires creep into my life and they take precedence over God and His will.  Like wanting a job so I can have a home.  It’s about what’s important in God’s view, not the world’s.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Simple.  Do you come back to God?  If the answer is yes, then you are good soil.  If you never come back to Him, then you are thorny.  We all fall off God’s path for our lives.  It’s those that persevere as Luke says and come back to Him and get back on track who are ultimately His.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am the good soil who perseveres, hears God’s word, retains it, and I hope passes it along.  I usually have doubts on where my heart lies but not in this case.  I know it is His.  I know I won’t quit despite the thorns in my path.  I know that my purpose is His purpose.

My prayer is to make those thorns less in my life and to make me stronger to overcome them when they do crop up so I can get back to doing God’s work instead of the world’s work.

Conclusions:  I usually don’t like all the personal questions but after yesterday which was a doozy of a lesson for me in terms of time this was a piece of cake.  Message for today:  We have to be aware of the devil’s ploys to pull us from God’s path.  And we must never give up.  God is a good God.  He forgives us everything.  He takes us back no matter what.  We will produce a good crop if we trust God to do so.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 2: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23 and Luke 8:4-15

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Luke 8:4-15:  Luke records the same parable but a shorter version.  BSF has us read Jesus’ explanation here (but not in Matthew verses 10-17 which is not sitting well with me) about why he speaks in parables.  The parables allow more people to understand the Word.  The disciples have been gifted by God with an understanding of the kingdom but many have not received such a gift.

Important differences in the passage:  Luke is succinct and a bit better.  He explains for those who don’t mature in the word fall away in times of life’s worries, riches, and pleasures.  Only those with a good and noble heart and who PERSEVERE retain God’s word and thus produces a good crop.

Questions:

3a)  A parable is a short, simple, everyday story with a point meant to convey a complex idea simply.  The definition of a parable according to Webster’s Dictionary is “comparison; a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”

b)  Yes and no.  He had been performing a lot of miracles as his primary way of showing and explaining the kingdom of God until he became frustrated in chapter 11 as people still failed to believe.  So he is beginning to switch to more stories to reach a wider audience.

It’s difficult to answer a definitive yes here because we only have a handful of Jesus’ teachings and actions recorded.  So much of his life we just don’t know.

c)  Luke says the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

4)  “it [seed] was trampled on”; “withered because they had no moisture”;  “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved”; “in the time of testing they fall away”; “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures and they do not mature”; “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

5a)  God

b)  No soil at all–could not grow.  This represents those who hear the word but do not understand it.

Rocky, thin soil–grew quickly but died in the hot sun and withered with no root.  Those who hear the word, take it in, but then fall when trouble arises.

Soil with thorns–plants grew but were choked.  Those who hear the word but are choked out by things in this world such as worries, wealth, and pleasures.

Good soil–produced a crop.  Those who hear the Word, understand it, retain it, sow it in their hearts, and persevere.

6)  John 14:15:  Those who obey God’s commands have good soil

John 15:5:  Those who remain in God bear much fruit

Acts 5:29:  Those who obey God rather than men have good soil

Philippians 2:12-13:  Obey God who works in you for His purpose

Conclusions:  Many beefs today.  First, you all know I hate skipping around.  I am very chronologically oriented.  I don’t understand why we didn’t read Jesus’ reason for telling parables in Matthew yet we read it in Luke and we were asked about it as well.  Why would we save that to come back to?  I guess we’ll find out soon.  No logic to me here.

Question 6 all had the same answer:  those that obey God have good soil.  And those that obey God more have better soil.  The more you obey, the greater the soil.  Fabulous.  Did we really need 4 verses to understand that?  No.  Should be intuitive.

Finally, for me, this lesson falls right at our Christmas break.  The next lesson is Part 2 in January.  So why split the two parts for a month?  We all know we don’t remember much after a month off if we do our lessons in December (which I do).  Don’t have a part one of a lesson and then wait a month for a part two.  Surely the timing here could be better.

End Notes:  Why did Jesus tell parables?  We must remember in ancient times most people were illiterate and farmers.  They had no experience with wrestling with foreign words and had a very limited vocabulary.  Jesus spoke in parables so they would remember his teachings, hold their interest, and be relatable to their difficult lives.

Also, as Jesus explains in the part we skipped, parables were meant to challenge the listener, to grow those deeper in the word, and to lessen the hardness of those not receptive to the Word.  They began in the face of growing opposition to Jesus so to lessen that, Jesus told parables.  In that sense, they were a form of mercy to those hardened against him because the message was hidden.

Here, Jesus is floating offshore in a boat.  Cool, huh?  I’d like to attend church on a lakeside.

The meaning of the word parable, which is Greek, is “to throw alongside of”, in this case thrown alongside the truth.  One commentator called them “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”

The soil represents the responses to the Word, which is us.  The soil on the path are those who never hear the word with understanding.  The soil that withers quickly are those who respond quickly but also wither away in the face of tribulations.  The thorny soil represents those who respond and grow in the Word but fall away in the face earthly things and competition for their attention such as material goods and pleasures.  And the good soil is those who whole-heartedly embrace God and His truth and bear fruit because of it.

At times in our lives, we are all of these.  Sometimes we ignore God, we allow other things and events to take precedence over Him, and at times we bear His fruit.

Notice the Sower (God) is the same as is the seed (His word).  The only thing that changes is the soil (us).