- Sermon Notes
The Kingdom of Heaven
1.What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “The kingdom of heaven”?
2.For many people there is confusion when they think about the kingdom of heaven.
3.They think about the conditions of heaven eternal and expect those should be the conditions of things now, here on earth, and they are greatly confused as to why that is not so.
4.And so they ask questions like, “Why do the wicked prosper?” “Why does it seem that injustice is growing?”
5.Fortunately, God does not want to leave us in a state of perpetual confusion.
6.In the three parables we will study, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven so that we may understand what it is and not be surprised at what is unfolding here on earth.
1.In Matthew 13:1-3, we’re told that Jesus taught the crowds many things using parables. What is a parable?
2.By way of review, the word parable comes from two Greek words, para and ballō, which together means “to throw alongside”.
3.A parable, like a story or an illustration, makes a comparison between a known truth and an unknown truth. It “throws them alongside” each other.
4.A parable teaches one main truth, though there might be many parts or different characters used to develop the main truth further.
5.Jesus used familiar things like sowing seed to reveal spiritual truths that had never been revealed to Israel in the Old Testament, truths about the kingdom of heaven.
6.Because parables use something familiar in story-form to make a point, the parable draws the listener into the story in order to bring them to a point of decision!
7.Why did Jesus shift His approach to teaching and use parables?
8.Remember in Matthew 12, the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic powers to heal people and deliver demoniacs from evil spirits. Their accusation was an official rejection of Jesus by the religious establishment. In essence, they declared that Jesus was not Israel’s Messiah, the promised King of the kingdom of heaven. He was from hell.
9.Matthew gave gave two reasons for Jesus’ use of parables:
a.First, parables reveal spiritual truth about the kingdom of heaven to those who earnestly seek it. At the same it, parables conceal spiritual truth about the kingdom of heaven from those with rebellious hearts. Thus, parables reveal and conceal spiritual truth.
b.Second, by using parables, Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy. In verse 35, Matthew quoted Psalm 78:2.
Psalm 78:2, I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old…
Transition – With that understanding, let’s look at the second, third, and fourth parables in Matthew 13.
I.The Kingdom of Heaven will have Tares
- In verse 24, Jesus presented a parable that revealed another facet about the kingdom of heaven.
- Starting in verse 36, Jesus explained the meaning of the parable by defining the different elements.
- The sower is the Son of Man, meaning Jesus (37).
- The field is the world, not the church (38).
- The good seed are those who come to faith in Jesus after hearing God’s Word. These are the “sons of the kingdom” who are scattered throughout the world
so that God has a continual witness (38).The tares are the “sons of the evil one”, planted by the devil to counter the “sons of the kingdom” (38-39).
- The harvest is the judgment at the end of age and the reapers are God’s holy angels (39).
1.In the parable Jesus explained that the servants discovered tares growing amongst the wheat and asked if the landowner wanted to root them out.
2.Tares are darnel weeds that look very similar to wheat as it grows, but it is very poisonous.
3.In that culture, a mean-spirited farmer might sow darnel into his competitor’s field to make it poisonous. As a result, the farmer would either have to painstakingly remove the darnel at harvest time or destroy the entire field and lose the crop.
4.When asked if the servants should remove the tares from the wheat, the landowner said, “‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.” (29)
APPL – The greatest difference between wheat and darnel is that wheat is healthy and produces life while darnel is poisonous. They look very similar until they grow to maturity and it is time for harvest. And that’s the point.
- Remember the parable of the soils. There Jesus declared that there are four responses to the Gospel.
- Only one soil is the good soil that produces a crop of 100, 60, and 30-fold.
- The devil can’t uproot true Christians, so he plants counterfeits to counter the true Christians. Whenever Christ sows a true Christian, you can be sure that Satan will sow a counterfeit.
APPL – Peter and John warned the church about such counterfeits, called false teachers and false prophets…
2 Peter 2:1-3, But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
APPL – Please notice when the tares were sown, when the men were sleeping (25)
- Satan does his best work when God’s people sleep!
- So as God’s people we must stay alert…
1 Peter 5:8-9, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
APPL – How can we discern between the false and the authentic? According to Dr. Richard Howe, the false will always deny at least one of the following:
- The inspiration, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Bible
- The deity, humanity, or work of Jesus Christ.
- The deity of the Holy Spirit
- The Trinity, one God in three persons
- That salvation is a gift of God, given by grace, and received through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:8, But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
B.Wheat and tares will be separated at harvest
1.Jesus said that the workers were not to remove the tares from the wheat because they might damage the wheat in the process.
2.Instead, both would be allowed to grow until the harvest and then the tares would be separated from the wheat, bound in bundles and thrown into the fire, a picture of eternal suffering, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (42)
ILLUS – Billy Graham was once interviewed by Larry King and was asked the question, “Are things worse than they have ever been?”
APPL – Please note that the Lord was not talking about church discipline. Remember the field is the world, not the church! There is a time to bring godly correction, speaking the truth in love, with the goal of healing and restoration.
- When you hear there are tares, the temptation is to go on the attack and try to root out every false doctrine and every false thing even in the church, but we should be reminded of what Jesus said to Peter…
John 21:17, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?… Feed My sheep. (NIV)
ILLUS – What if a pastor decided to try to root out the tares and continually preached a message of hellfire, brimstone, and condemnation?
APPL – We are called to plant the truth. We’re called to be evangelists, not detectives. That said, we must oppose Satan and expose the lies while sowing the Word of God, bearing fruit in the places He has planted us.
- God will sort it all out at the end of the age. He knows who belongs to Him…
2 Timothy 2:19, Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His”
II. The Kingdom of Heaven will have Birds and Leaven
- The next two parables follow along the same theme.
- I’m convinced that Jesus wanted them and us to understand so that their faith and ours is not disturbed by what happens here on the Earth.
A.Not all growth is of good growth
1. The next parable in verses 31-32, is very interesting. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that grows up to become a tree so that even the birds of the air, nest in its branches.
2. But mustard plants were never intended to grow to this degree and it was certainly not common for birds to nest in mustard bushes.3. So, Jesus was talking about the abnormal growth of the mustard seed.
4.There are a couple of different interpretations of this parable.
a.One interpretation suggests that the kingdom of heaven will start out small and insignificant but will grow to such a large degree that it will become a great tree. This is a very positive interpretation.
b.A more common interpretation of this parable is that it is a warning that when the kingdom of heaven becomes large and successful, the birds of the air will come and make a nest. I believe this is the stronger of the two for we must remember that Jesus linked the birds in the parable of the soils to the evil one who snatches away the seed of God’s Word (13:4, 19).
APPL – Success can become a great trouble for the church.
I believe it is very possible for churches and pastors to have what might be called “spiritual greed” where they want the glory and will stop at nothing to make a name for themselves at the expense of the health of God’s sheep!
This happened in Israel and the Lord had something to say about it.
Ezekiel 34:2-4, 11, 15, Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally… I myself will search for my sheep and look after them… I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.
B. Not all doctrine is biblical doctrine
1.The next parable, in verse 33, has also been interpreted one of two ways.
2.One interpretation is that it’s a positive picture of how the kingdom of heaven will start out insignificantly but affect the whole world just as a little leaven will affect the flour.
3.The problem with that interpretation is that Jesus was speaking to Jews and they would have had a negative view of leaven since leaven represents evil in God’s Word.
APPL – Jesus also linked leaven to the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16:12…
Matthew 16:12, Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
4.So, the flour, which comes from wheat, represents the church.
a.I believe Jesus gave us a warning that just as leaven will spread through the flour, so too false teachings and false living will spread through the church.
b.Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees; either adding to or taking away from God’s Word.
APPL – God wants His church to have pure hearts and pure doctrine!
1 Corinthians 5:7, Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
- Pure Doctrine: We believe…
- In Scripture alone (sola scriptura).
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
- In Christ alone (solo Christo)
John 14:6, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
- We are saved by grace alone (sola gratia)
Galatians 2:21,I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
- Through faith alone (sola fide)
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
When we understand how much God loves us and also how much He desires for us to enter into a true relationship with Him, we will understand why Jesus gave such warnings so that nothing will interfere with us loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength!
Matthew 13:24-43 NASB