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Matthew 12 and 13 Understanding all Parables

Posted by adventbiblestudy on August 17, 2015


Matthew 12 and 13 Understanding all Parables

One of the most important laws of context is to look at the entire story. How do people define a story? Most look at a story as a single incident or event. How to we define an event. If we looked at a car crash as an event, would we restrict our investigation to the moment of impact and the results? No! To UNDERSTAND the event, we would have to look at what led up to the crash to find out what caused the accident. Does that make sense?

The same is true with the laws of context God created, used, and followed to write every word in the Bible. God saw this world crash long before it happened. God knows exactly what caused that accident. And God also knew the world would cease to listen to Him. Not everyone, but the vast majority. So God created the laws of context and Jesus explained them in what many refer to as the parable of the sower, or the farmer sowing his seeds.

Matthew 13:9-15 NLTse Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (10) His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” (11) He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. (12) To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. (13) That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. (14) This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. (15) For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes– so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’

Notice how Jesus introduced or used another law of context that tells us, when we see Old Testament scriptures quoted in the New Testament, look up and read the entire story. Once again we see the entire story repeated in the laws of context. Looking at that story we see how it was introduced by Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:1-5 NLTse It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. (2) Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. (3) They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (4) Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. (5) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

This example showed how Isaiah followed another set of laws, the law of the prophets. See how Isaiah described how God communicated with Him? That is one of the most important laws God’s prophets followed, and continue to follow today. At least the true prophets.

The vision begins in Heaven. This is part of what Jesus wanted us to see. All true visions and understanding originate at God’s throne. Without that connection, what do we have? Nothing but a man made theory from this world. We have a choice. Rely on the wisdom of this world, or God’s throne for understanding.

When did the story about the farmer and his seeds really begin? At the beginning of the day when Jesus began teaching. He was questioned about the Sabbath by a group of Pharisees. At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain field; and his disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the ears of grain, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, your disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. (Matthew 12:1-2 KJ2000). We can see there was a misunderstanding about the Sabbath that separated Jesus and those Pharisees. Jesus summed up the Sabbath this way. “But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day. (Matthew 12:7-8 KJ2000).

Jesus told them what the Sabbath was for after sending them back to search scripture for a few answers. “But he said unto them, Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:3-5 KJ2000). Once again we see Jesus using and following the laws of context by pointing them back to scripture. An inspired writer and teacher will always point people back to scripture, Just like Jesus wanted us to learn, it all begins at God’s throne.

When we look at this in terms of the parable Jesus taught, and how He talked about understanding, we can see how people keep the Sabbath is not only important, but is linked to understanding scripture.

How did Jesus spend that Sabbath? What examples did Jesus teach? And when he was departed from there, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man who had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse him (Matthew 12:9-10 KJ2000). He healed a man. That was another difference of opinion the Pharisees had with Jesus.

What was the lesson in that instance? “How much then is a man better than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.” (Matthew 12:12 KJ2000). The lesson is the same as the first time Jesus had to defend Himself on the Sabbath. Jesus used another law of context. The law of repetition. Jesus repeated the point because it was important.

The law of repetition covers not only major points and lessons, it includes words. Authors repeated key words to draw attention to the main thought. Words can be the same, similar, or related. We can see the beginning of Matthew chapter 12 repeats a number of related words. Grainfields, grain, eating, harvest, hungry, loaves, and bread, are all related to grain and food. They also establish a direct link to the next chapter about sowing seeds, as well as other parables about seeds, grain, and harvests.

The Pharisees didn’t want anything to do with what Jesus was teaching. They had their set of rules and regulations on the Sabbath and everything was fine as far as they were concerned. There was no way they were going to let some stranger send them back to scripture. Neither were they prepared to change their ways. The only way they were going to allow any change to tradition was over their dead bodies. Better yet, it seemed far easier to kill Jesus.

Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” (Matthew 12:22-24 NLTse).

The Pharisees changed their attack from the Sabbath to demons. It seems like the Pharisees couldn’t match Jesus on the subject of the Sabbath, so they changed to a subject they were experts on.

This shows how following the sequence of an entire story reveals hidden details. The first problem we saw, or the first thing that hid the meaning of scripture from the Pharisees was a misunderstanding of the Sabbath. Jesus sent them back to scripture to help with that problem. The next problem we see concerned a misunderstanding of demons. That is a dangerous problem. How is anyone supposed to participate in spiritual warfare if they don’t understand the enemy?

Jesus followed the laws of context by repeating a number of related words to describe Satan’s kingdom. Divided, doomed, splintered, and condemn are a part of that pattern. All of those are related to other key words, Satan and demons. Jesus repeated those to draw attention to the key lesson on that part of the discussion. Jesus used another rule of context by repeating a number of contrasting words like, amazed, power, empowered, powerful, and strong. Now we are left with a contrast of God’s throne, and what Satan claims to be a kingdom.

Once Jesus introduced the use of contrasts, He repeated the lesson so we wouldn’t miss it. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. (Matthew 12:35 NLTse). Combining the stories and lessons Jesus taught that day, we can’t help but see the lessons. And Jesus set the stage to introduce what many consider one of the most important parables. The parable of the sower and his seed. Notice how Jesus began to introduce plants and fruit.

Next the Pharisees asked for a sign. Here Matthew also referred to them as teachers of the religious laws. Matthew brought out two major points. Those people didn’t think they needed Jesus to teach them anything. Another important lesson to understanding all scripture. The teachers of religious law also didn’t want to go back to scripture. Another mistake. Those religious teachers were obsessed with their knowledge of the law to a degree it blinded them. They were the example showing how calling for unity under man made laws never works. It blinds people to the simple laws of context and understanding.

The summary in Matthew chapter 12 has details to pay attention to. The summary is always an important part of every chapter. In this case it summed up everything Jesus was talking about, shedding new light on the subject. “Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:49-50 NLTse).

Jesus wanted to know, those disciples eating the grain at the beginning of the day were His family. That explained why David was allowed to eat the sacred bread. It also showed the man with the withered hand, and the man Jesus cast the demon out of were also His family. The end of chapter 12 brought us to an understanding of Jesus’ ministry many people miss, because they don’t follow the laws of context.

When we pay attention, we see the summary in chapter 13 reflects back on the summary in chapter 12. Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers–James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:55-58 NLTse). This direct connection stresses the importance of following the laws of context, as well as shows how all those stories that day combine to teach the same lesson, how to understand scripture.

When we look and pay attention to the way those two chapters were recorded, we see additional evidence they are related. Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. (Matthew 13:1-3 NLTse). Matthew made it a point to tell us it was on the same day.

Jesus repeated key words like plant, seeds, ate, sprouted, roots, and plants, which are related to key words in the story in chapter 12 about the disciples eating grain on the Sabbath, and the parable about the good tree with good fruit.

As we progress, we can see how Jesus built one story upon another as well as one lesson then another. They all cover the same theme and topic, how to understand scripture. If you pay attention to scripture, you see when a question is introduced, Jesus will always provide the answers before introducing those questions. After reading the parable of the farmer sowing seeds, a wise student should ask, how do you study scripture? Jesus began teaching those lessons before anyone thought of asking that question. That is always the sign of a great teacher.

Another sign of a great teacher is to assign homework so students can apply what they’ve learned. You can look at those two chapters, the other parables in chapter 13 in particular and identify the connections yourself. Once you see and practice the laws of context, you’ll see how easy they are to use. Then a new understanding of scripture will open up to you. And remember to teach others.

Matt 12 1 to 32 Matt 12 33 to 50 Matt 13 1 to 29 Matt 13 30 to 58

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