Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fourteen verses of the twenty-second chapter. When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will find Jesus again speaking unto the crowds and the great multitudes of people who came and gathered themselves unto Him in parables. If you study and examine the teaching of Jesus the Christ you will find that starting with the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel written by Matthew, Jesus began speaking unto the great multitudes and crowds in parables. What is both interesting and unique about the parables which Jesus spoke unto the crowds and multitudes of people which gathered themselves unto Him during the week of His passion is that the parables took on a different nature and character than the previous parables. One of the underlying principles and realities which surround the parables which Jesus spoke were that they were always referencing the kingdom of heaven. The parables which Jesus spoke were always dealing specifically and exclusively with the reality of the kingdom of heaven—not only the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven on the earth, but also the reality of the kingdom of heaven in the realm of eternity. We dare not overlook or misunderstand this crucial reality, for when speaking of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus used parables to demonstrate and reveal the tremendous truth concerning this spiritual reality. In fact, there is not a doubt in my mind that the reality of the kingdom of heaven, and the reason Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven using parables is in order that the true, the genuine, the authentic seeking heart that came unto Him for more than just miracles would take the words He spoke, hear and listen to the words He spoke, and seek them after they left the presence of Jesus. Perhaps one of the most interesting and unique realities concerning the parables which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven is that outside of the disciples, there weren’t any individuals who had the ability to have a private audience with Jesus and ask Him what He meant when He spoke in parables. In the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find two specific parables Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven, and on the one hand Jesus voluntarily provided the interpretation of one of the parables, while on the other hand, the disciples asked Jesus for the interpretation of another parable.
I can’t help but be reminded of the that which took place on this particular occasion within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and His disciples, and how it was in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we are first introduced to the parables of Jesus, and Jesus speaking in a completely different manner than what He had previously spoken. It is in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that we encounter a transition in the teaching of Jesus, as Jesus would now begin speaking to the crowds and multitudes of people in parables. What is so incredibly unique about the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew is that within it—not only do we find Jesus speaking in parables, not only do we find Jesus providing interpretations to two of the parables unto His disciples, but we also find an explanation concerning why Jesus spoke unto the crowds in parables. What strikes me as both incredibly challenging and incredibly unique about the parables which Jesus spoke is that the parables seemed to be a dividing line between those who came unto Jesus with a true, with an authentic, and with a genuine seeking heart, and those who merely gathered unto Him to witness and experience the miracles and works which He performed. The parables which Jesus spoke when speaking unto the crowds and the great multitudes of people were essentially a way of sifting through the hearts of those who were truly and genuinely seeking the kingdom of heaven, and those who were merely looking to be bystanders and spectators in the kingdom of heaven. One of the things I can’t help but notice when I consider the reality of the kingdom of heaven is that there were those who merely sought to be spectators and bystanders within the kingdom of heaven, and there were others who were actually looking to be participants in the manifestation and reality of the kingdom of heaven. The parables were means by which Jesus could speak concerning the kingdom of heaven and provoke the hearts of those who were genuinely seeking after it. The parables were the means by which Jesus the Christ sought to engage the hungry heart that desperately yearned and longed for a further and greater understanding concerning the kingdom of heaven—not only within their lives, but also within the earth itself.
One of the realities we find when we read the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is that the disciples were privileged—not only to have a private audience with Jesus the Christ, but it was also given unto them to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and to hear Jesus provide the meaning of the parables. This was not the case in the lives of those present among the great multitudes of people who sought after and gathered themselves unto Jesus, for there were countless men and women who heard the parables which Jesus spoke unto them concerning the kingdom of heaven, and didn’t have an understanding concerning that which Jesus was speaking. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were those among the great multitudes of people who heard the parables which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven and did not, could not and would not understand that which Jesus was speaking unto them. I do not for one moment believe that everyone who gathered themselves before and gathered themselves unto Jesus left His presence relegating themselves to having no understanding concerning the kingdom of heaven. It is true that only the disciples were privileged enough to have a private audience with Jesus and to ask Him to explain the parables which He spoke unto the great multitudes of people, yet this was not so for those who gathered themselves before and unto Him. I am completely and utterly convinced that there were those who heard the parables which Jesus spoke unto the great multitudes who gathered before and around Jesus, and left the presence of Jesus and went unto their homes seeking to understand that which Jesus spoke unto them concerning the kingdom of heaven. Despite the fact that the disciples could ask Jesus for an understanding concerning the parables which He spoke unto the great multitudes of people, there were those who listened to and heard the parables concerning the kingdom of heaven, and wanted to understand for themselves what the kingdom of heaven was truly like. It wasn’t enough for them to merely hear the words which Jesus spoke concerning the. Kingdom of heaven and leave it at that. I am convinced that it is necessary for us to journey back to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and not only consider the parables which Jesus spoke unto the great multitudes of people, but also how the interpretation of two of the parables were provided unto the disciples. In the first nine verses of the thirteenth chapter we find Jesus speaking forth the parable of the good seed and the four soils, while in verses ten through twenty-three we find Jesus not only revealing why He spoke in parables, but also providing the interpretation of the parable. Consider if you will that which is found in the first twenty-three verses of the thirteenth chapter:
“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 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. And He spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:1-9).
And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 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. 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. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.l 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: 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. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 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. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 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 the seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anone with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceifulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received the 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” (Matthew 13:10-23).
It is clear from what we just read that not only did Jesus begin speaking unto the great multitudes in parables concerning the kingdom of heaven, but also that when answering the disciples as to why He spoke unto the crowds in parables, Jesus proceeded to provide the interpretation of the parable of the good seed and the four soils. It was unto the disciples which Jesus provided the interpretation of the parable of the good seed and the four soils—despite the fact that they did not ask Him for the interpretation. The disciples merely came unto Him and asked Him why He spoke unto the people in parables, and yet Jesus proceeded to not only describe why He spoke to them in parables, but also provided them with the interpretation concerning this particular parable. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the disciples were able to ask Jesus why He spoke unto the crowds in parables, and the disciples were able to gain an understanding of certain of the parables which Jesus spoke unto the crowds of people, and yet within the thirteenth chapter we find that out of five to seven parables, only two of those parables came with an interpretation and understanding concerning that which Jesus desired to speak concerning the kingdom of heaven. If you read this chapter in its entirety, you will find only two interpretations given concerning two of the parables which were spoken by Jesus—the first parable which was the parable of the good seed and the four soils, and the second was the parable of the good seed sown into a field, as well as bad seed that was sown in the same field by the enemy. Consider if you will the second parable Jesus spoke concerning seed which was sown into the earth—this time in the midst of a field which belonged to a certain householder:
“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 while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 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? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 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 bunds to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”
If you journey a little further into the thirteenth chapter you will find that after Jesus sent the multitude away, and after He went into the house, His disciples came unto Him, saying, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” Please don’t miss what is taking place here, for the disciples have a private audience with Jesus Christ after He had sent the multitude away, and were able to ask Him what He meant when He spoke the parable concerning the tares of the field. Here on this particular occasion the disciples would again gain an understanding and explanation concerning one of the parables which Jesus spoke unto the multitude. You will find that Jesus obliged the disciples and proceeded to provide them with the interpretation and explanation of the parable of the tares of the field—something that would not happen, nor be experienced by any among the multitude which had gathered unto Him, and which He sent away. If you read verses thirty-seven through forty-three of this particular chapter you will find the interpretation of the parable which Jesus spoke unto the crowds and unto the multitude, yet provided the interpretation and understanding unto the disciples. Consider if you will the interpretation of the parable as it was explained by Jesus Himself in private with the disciples:
“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and thy shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:37-43).
Within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we a number of parables which Jesus spoke unto the multitudes in order that He might speak unto them concerning the kingdom of heaven. These parables would be spoken unto the crowds and unto the multitude in order that they might hear concerning the kingdom of heaven, and would in turn have to search for the meaning and understanding concerning the kingdom of heaven and what Jesus meant when He spoke unto them. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel, and when we read the parables which. Jesus spoke unto the crowds and multitude, there were those—including the disciples—who needed to seek in order that they might understand that which Jesus meant when He spoke the parables concerning the kingdom of heaven. Lest you think that I am out of my league and somehow off base by making such a declaration, I would draw your attention to the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel where Jesus first asks His disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was, and second asks His disciples who they said that He the Son of man was. When responding to Jesus’ question unto the disciples concerning who they said that He was, Simon Peter opened his mouth and declared that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Jesus’ response unto Peter was one that demonstrated and revealed the awesome truth that there was revelation that took place apart from and outside the presence of Jesus. Jesus responded to the apostle Peter by declaring unto Him that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him, but that His Father in heaven had revealed it unto him. It’s necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for we have to ask ourselves when the Father had revealed this reality unto the apostle Peter. Peter had spent three and a half years walking with and following Jesus, and we have to wonder how and when the Father had revealed it unto His heart that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God. Was Simon Peter alone with and by himself thinking about Jesus, and the Father revealed it unto His heart that this man before Him was not only the Christ, but also the Son of the living God? Was Simon Peter walking with Jesus one day and the Father spoke to His heart and revealed unto him within his heart and spirit that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God? Was the apostle Peter listening to Jesus speak unto the great multitudes and crowds of people, and teaching them, and as he was listening to Jesus speak, the Father revealed unto his heart that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God? Is it possible that the apostle Peter while he was alone with himself before the Heavenly Father—either on his bed at night, or perhaps even as he was simply by himself on another occasion—the Father revealed unto his heart that the man he was walking with and following was in fact the Christ, and was in fact the Son of the living God? We know for a fact that when Jesus responded to Peter’s declaration and profession, He emphatically declared unto him that flesh and blood did not reveal this unto him, but His Father who was in heaven.
It is necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for when we think about and consider the parables which Jesus spoke unto the crowds and multitudes, we must consider the fact that there were those who listened to and heard the parables and who would enter into their secret closet of prayer before the Father and ask Him for understanding concerning that which Jesus spoke and taught. There is not a doubt in my mind that the parables were designed to engage the seeking heart, and to thrust that heart into the place where it appeared before and approached the Father in order that it might understand that which Jesus was trying to say. Oh that we would recognize that there are times when Jesus speaks to us and where what He says and what He is actually trying to say are entirely different realities within our hearts and lives. The parables are a wonderful and powerful example of this reality, for within he parables we find Jesus teaching in parables and speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven, and yet what He was actually saying was much deeper and much greater than what was being heard and experienced on the surface level . There are times when that which Jesus speaks to us is intended to cause us to search much deeper than that which is before our faces, and that which we hear with our ears. There are times when Jesus can and will speak to us, and that which He speaks to us is intended on bringing us to the place where we search deeper into the meaning behind what He is actually saying. When Jesus spoke the parables concerning the kingdom of heaven, He was intending on speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven, but He was deliberately and intentionally shrouding the kingdom of heaven in mystery and mysteries—mysteries which would cause the true and genuine seeking heart to pursue an even deeper understanding. In fact, when Jesus was speaking unto the disciples and answering them concerning why He spoke unto the crowds and multitudes in parables, He responded by declaring unto them that it was given unto them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Thus, that which Jesus was speaking and revealing unto them was that the kingdom of heaven is surrounded by mystery which must be deliberately and intentionally sought out and sought after by the honest and genuine heart that truly desires to understand the mysteries concerning the kingdom of heaven. When responding to the disciples concerning the kingdom of heaven and why He spoke unto the people in parables, He spoke of “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” thus revealing and suggesting that the kingdom of heaven is something requires a passionate and diligent pursuit on our part to understand that which Jesus was speaking concerning the kingdom. The very fact that Jesus spoke of “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” suggests the strong reality that the kingdom of heaven is in fact something that requires a willingness to invest the time, the effort and the energy in order that we might understand that which Jesus is speaking unto our hearts.
When we come to the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by the apostle Matthew we again find Jesus speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven, and again speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven in a mystery and in parable. In this chapter, however, we find Jesus describing the kingdom of heaven as like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. The first time the king sent his servants to call those who were bidden unto the wedding, those who were bidden would not come—despite the fact that they were in fact called. The king sent his servants out a second time inviting those that were bidden to come unto the marriage for his son, for he prepared a dinner, his oxen and his failings are killed, and all things are ready. The interesting reality concerning the invitation of the king is that when we read concerning this second invitation, those that were bid made light of it, and went their own individual ways. As if refusing to come unto the wedding wasn’t terrible enough, the remnant of those who did not go their own ways took the servants which the king had sent, treated them spitefully, and slew them. Upon hearing what these who had killed his servants had done, the king was wroth and sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. After the king had finished taking care of those who had killed his servants, he instructed more of his servants to go into the highways, and as many as they would find, bid to the marriage. In order to truly and properly understand that which Jesus is speaking within this passage, it is imperative that we turn and direct our attention to the final book of the New Testament—the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—for it is in this book where we read of the very marriage Jesus spoke about within this parable. Consider if you will the words which the apostle John wrote concerning this marriage which was planned, for you will not only learn who the marriage is for, but you will also learn who planned the wedding, and who was invited unto the wedding:
“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, praise our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thundering, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And He saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at His feet to worship Him. And He said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:1-10).
In this particular passage of Scripture we read concerning the marriage which is being prepared for the saints of God—the marriage supper of the Lamb—which is being prepared for those who have accepted the invitation to come. This marriage supper of the Lamb is for those who have washed their garments white in the blood of the Lamb, and those who have made themselves ready for this marriage in order that they might be in attendance when it takes place. In the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we read of the marriage supper of the. Lamb, while in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians we find him speaking concerning a chaste virgin being presented unto Christ. In the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul we find the apostle Paul writing concerning husbands and wives, and concerning the mystery of earthly marriage and its correlation to a spiritual marriage between the Lamb who is Jesus the Christ, and his bride who is the church. This same reality is also found in the third and fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul written unto the Colossian congregation. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in these three epistles concerning the bride and the Lamb, and the awesome reality concerning this marriage which will take place towards the end of time after the great whore is destroyed. Isn’t it interesting and intriguing how in the parable which Jesus spoke, we find the king destroying those who mistreated and killed his servants, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the New Testament we read concerning the judgment and destruction of the great whore of Babylon. Before we read of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb we first read of the great harlot and whore being destroyed. Is it possible that in order for the marriage supper of the Lamb to be consummated, the great whore and harlot within and upon the earth needs to be destroyed and utterly removed from the earth? Immediately after the great whore is destroyed and utterly wiped off the face of the earth, we find the marriage supper of the Lamb taking place in heaven, as the Lamb is finally joined together with His bride. I leave you with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in these three epistles concerning the church as the bride of Christ, and Christ as the Lamb and the Son for whom the marriage supper was prepared:
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through His subtitle, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1-3).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man every yet hated his own flesh; but nourished and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of His body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Colossians 3:17-21).