Matthew 13

1 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was seated by the seaside.
2 And great numbers of people came together to him, so that he got into a boat; and the people took up their position by the sea.
3 And he gave them teaching in the form of a story, saying, A man went out to put seed in the earth;
4 And while he did so, some seeds were dropped by the wayside, and the birds came and took them for food:
5 And some of the seed went among the stones, where it had not much earth, and straight away it came up because the earth was not deep:
6 And when the sun was high, it was burned; and because it had no root it became dry and dead.
7 And some seeds went among thorns, and the thorns came up and they had no room for growth:
8 And some, falling on good earth, gave fruit, some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times as much.
9 He who has ears, let him give ear.
10 And the disciples came and said to him, Why do you say things to them in the form of stories?
11 And he said to them in answer, To you is given the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 Because whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have more; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
13 For this reason I put things into the form of stories; because they see without seeing, and give ear without hearing, and the sense is not clear to them.
14 And for them the words of Isaiah have come true, Though you give ear, you will not get knowledge; and seeing, you will see, but the sense will not be clear to you:
15 For the heart of this people has become fat and their ears are slow in hearing and their eyes are shut; for fear that they might see with their eyes and give hearing with their ears and become wise in their hearts and be turned again to me, so that I might make them well.
16 But a blessing be on your eyes, because they see; and on your ears, because they are open.
17 For truly, I say to you that prophets and upright men had a desire to see the things which you see, and saw them not; and to have knowledge of the words which have come to your ears, and they had it not.
18 Give ear, then, to the story of the man who put the seed in the earth.
19 When the word of the kingdom comes to anyone, and the sense of it is not clear to him, then the Evil One comes, and quickly takes away that which was put in his heart. He is the seed dropped by the wayside.
20 And that which went on the stones, this is he who, hearing the word, straight away takes it with joy;
21 But having no root in himself, he goes on for a time; and when trouble comes or pain, because of the word, he quickly becomes full of doubts.
22 And that which was dropped among the thorns, this is he who has the word; and the cares of this life, and the deceits of wealth, put a stop to the growth of the word and it gives no fruit.
23 And the seed which was put in good earth, this is he who gives ear to the word, and gets the sense of it; who gives fruit, some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times as much.
24 And he gave them another story, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who put good seed in his field:
25 But while men were sleeping, one who had hate for him came and put evil seeds among the grain, and went away.
26 But when the green stem came up and gave fruit, the evil plants were seen at the same time.
27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, Sir, did you not put good seed in your field? how then has it evil plants?
28 And he said, Someone has done this in hate. And the servants say to him, Is it your pleasure that we go and take them up?
29 But he says, No, for fear that by chance while you take up the evil plants, you may be rooting up the grain with them.
30 Let them come up together till the getting in of the grain; and then I will say to the workers, Take up first the evil plants, and put them together for burning: but put the grain into my store-house.
31 He put another story before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his field:
32 Which is smaller than all seeds; but when it has come up it is greater than the plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and make their resting-places in its branches.
33 Another story he gave to them: The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and put in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.
34 All these things Jesus said to the people in the form of stories; and without a story he said nothing to them:
35 That it might come true which was said by the prophet, Opening my mouth, I will give out stories; I will give knowledge of things kept secret from before all time.
36 Then he went away from the people, and went into the house; and his disciples came to him, saying, Make clear to us the story of the evil plants in the field.
37 And he made answer and said, He who puts the good seed in the earth is the Son of man;
38 And the field is the world; and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom; and the evil seeds are the sons of the Evil One;
39 And he who put them in the earth is Satan; and the getting in of the grain is the end of the world; and those who get it in are the angels.
40 As then the evil plants are got together and burned with fire, so will it be in the end of the world.
41 The Son of man will send out his angels, and they will take out of his kingdom everything which is a cause of error, and all those who do wrong,
42 And will put them into the fire; there will be weeping and cries of sorrow.
43 Then will the upright be shining as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him give ear.
44 The kingdom of heaven is like a secret store of wealth in a field, which a man came across and put back again; and in his joy he goes and gives all he has, to get that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader searching for beautiful jewels.
46 And having come across one jewel of great price, he went and gave all he had in exchange for it.
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net, which was put into the sea and took in every sort of fish:
48 When it was full, they took it up on the sands; and seated there they put the good into vessels, but the bad they put away.
49 So will it be in the end of the world: the angels will come and take out the bad from the good,
50 And will put them into the fire: there will be weeping and cries of sorrow.
51 Are all these things now clear to you? They say to him, Yes.
52 And he said to them, For this reason every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house, who gives out from his store things new and old.
53 And when Jesus had come to the end of these stories he went away from there.
54 And coming into his country, he gave them teaching in their Synagogue, so that they were greatly surprised and said, Where did this man get this wisdom and these works of power?
55 Is not this the woodworker's son? is not his mother named Mary? and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? from where, then, has he all these things?
57 And they were bitter against him. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is nowhere without honour but in his country and among his family.
58 And the works of power which he did there were small in number because they had no faith.

Matthew 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The parable of the sower. (1-23) The parable of the tares. (24-30; 36-43) The parables of the mustard-seed and the leaven. (31-35) The parables of the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the net cast into the sea, and the householder. (44-52) Jesus is again rejected at Nazareth. (53-58)

Verses 1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, ( Hebrews 6:8 ) . Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.

24-30, 36-43 This parable represents the present and future state of the gospel church; Christ's care of it, the devil's enmity against it, the mixture there is in it of good and bad in this world, and the separation between them in the other world. So prone is fallen man to sin, that if the enemy sow the tares, he may go his way, they will spring up, and do hurt; whereas, when good seed is sown, it must be tended, watered, and fenced. The servants complained to their master; Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? No doubt he did; whatever is amiss in the church, we are sure it is not from Christ. Though gross transgressors, and such as openly oppose the gospel, ought to be separated from the society of the faithful, yet no human skill can make an exact separation. Those who oppose must not be cut off, but instructed, and that with meekness. And though good and bad are together in this world, yet at the great day they shall be parted; then the righteous and the wicked shall be plainly known; here sometimes it is hard to distinguish between them. Let us, knowing the terrors of the Lord, not do iniquity. At death, believers shall shine forth to themselves; at the great day they shall shine forth before all the world. They shall shine by reflection, with light borrowed from the Fountain of light. Their sanctification will be made perfect, and their justification published. May we be found of that happy number.

Verses 31-35 The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to show that the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latter end would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in the heart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In the soul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhaps at first not to be discerned, it will at last come to great strength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, ( Mark 4:26-29 ) , yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thus it was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hid a handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was made powerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and none can hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes into the soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the property even of the members of the body, ( Romans 6:13 ) . From these parables we are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let us inquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles and habits?

Verses 44-52 Here are four parables. 1. That of the treasure hid in the field. Many slight the gospel, because they look only upon the surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, so as in them to find Christ and eternal life, ( John 5:39 ) , will discover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakably valuable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothing can be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must be given up for the sake of it. 2. All the children of men are busy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, another would be learned; but most are deceived, and take up with counterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price; in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and for ever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of great price. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the gracious Saviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts. 3. The world is a vast sea, and men, in their natural state, are like the fishes. Preaching the gospel is casting a net into this sea, to catch something out of it, for His glory who has the sovereignty of this sea. Hypocrites and true Christians shall be parted: miserable is the condition of those that shall then be cast away. 4. A skilful, faithful minister of the gospel, is a scribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able to teach them. Christ compares him to a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year's gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Old experiences and new observations, all have their use. Our place is at Christ's feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.

Verses 53-58 Christ repeats his offer to those who have repulsed them. They upbraid him, Is not this the carpenter's son? Yes, it is true he was reputed to be so; and no disgrace to be the son of an honest tradesman; they should have respected him the more because he was one of themselves, but therefore they despised him. He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Unbelief is the great hinderance to Christ's favours. Let us keep faithful to him as the Saviour who has made our peace with God.

Matthew 13 Commentaries