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Sermon #2177 — Miscellaneous Sermons


      Title:                                 Do you understand

  these things?


      Text:                                  Matthew 13:1-58

      Subject:               The Parables of the Kingdom

      Readings:           Bobbie Estes and Mark Henson



My heart has been heavy for some time now, and my soul troubled, by…

  • Wicked Strife among Brethren.
  • Open, Careless Criticism of Faithful Preachers.
  • Quick, Careless Condemnation of Others.


Assaults from without are expected. I fully expect the hatred of the world, especially of the religious world. But believers, fellow-laborers in the gospel, men and women saved by the grace of God, sinners washed in the blood of Christ, robed in his righteousness, and born again by God the Holy Ghost, should never treat one another with jealousy, resentment, anger, and hostility.


Sinners loved of God ought to love one another, and act like it! Yet, rarely does a week pass without me receiving a telephone call, or a letter, or a visit from some “loving brother” who is just terribly “sad and broken-hearted” because he feels compelled to…

  • Point out some flaw in his pastor, or another preacher.
  • Tell me about some injury done to him by a brother or sister.
  • Inform me of some terrible thing another has done.


I think I am beginning to understand what that burden was which the apostle Paul spoke of carrying daily. In addition to all the other woes of life as a believer, he spoke of carrying “the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). To be honest with you, I’m sick to death with all the proud, peevish, childish conduct of people who ought to know better and profess to know better! There is no place for it, and no excuse for it. Still, “the care of all the churches” is a burden from which I would not be relieved if I might.


With that care laying heavy on my heart, when I went to bed last night, Shelby reminded me of yesterday’s reading in Discovering Christ Day by Day, telling me that it was a great blessing to her. Normally, I don’t read my own writings. But after she was asleep, I read the reading for September 29th, and immediately knew I had to preach to you from Matthew 13.


In this chapter, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us seven parables of the kingdom of heaven. Drawing his illustrations from the book of nature, our Savior gave the multitudes who were gathered to hear him seven striking illustrations of gospel truth. When he finished giving out his sermon, he said to the multitudes, “Have ye understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:51).


Do you understand these things? — That is the title of my message. — Do you understand these things? I want you to hold your Bibles open on your laps, as we look at these seven parables together. When we are done, it is my prayer that you will, by the blessing of God the Holy Ghost, understand these things.


Proposition: Though our Lord’s parables were intended to be confusing to the reprobate and unbelieving, they are things understood by all who are taught of God, by all who are born again, by all who trust Christ.


  • In chapter 11, the Lord Jesus vindicates and honors John the Baptist.
  • In the 12th chapter, our Savior describes the mighty operations of his saving grace in and upon chosen, redeemed sinners.
  • Here, in chapter 13, our Lord gives us seven parables, seven pictures of his grace and his salvation, his church and his kingdom, his work and his people in this world.


1.    The Parable of the Sower (vv. 1-23)


The gospel, the Word of God, is the seed of life. Many hear it without any benefit to their souls. But those whose hearts are prepared by grace receive the Word as seed sown in good ground. And it springs up in them unto everlasting life.


Matthew 13:1-23 (1) The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. (2) 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. (3) And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; (4) And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: (5) Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: (6) And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. (7) And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: (8) But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. (9) Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


(10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (11) 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. (12) 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. (13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (14) 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: (15) 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. (16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (17) 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.


(18) Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. (19) 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 seed by the way side. (20) But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; (21) 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. (22) He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (23) But he that received 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.


2.    The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (vv. 24-30)


In every local church, where God has planted his wheat, Satan sows his tares. And it is impossible to distinguish one from the other until harvest time. So we must let both grow together. In time of harvest God wi11 do the separating.


Matthew 13:24-30 (24) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: (25) But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (26) But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. (27) 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? (28) He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? (29) But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. (30) 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 bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.


The Master explains this parable in verses 36-43.


Matthew 13:36-43 (36) Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. (37) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (43) Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


3.    The Parable of the Mustard Seed (vv. 31-32)


Matthew 13:31-32 (31) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: (32) Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.


Faith begins in the heart as a small seed and grows in a short time into a tree with far spreading branches. As the mustard seed is pungent, so faith even as a grain of mustard seed is powerful, overcoming the world.


4.    The Parable of the Leaven (v. 33)


The gospel of the grace of God, like a small pinch of leaven, was sent forth into the world by the Spirit of God. Its power and influence will not cease until it has reached every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue.


Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.


5.    The Parable of the Treasure Hidden (v. 44)


Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.


The church of God's elect is the treasure he has hidden in the earth. Christ, finding his treasure in the earth, has purchased the whole world that he might have his treasure. The price he paid was everything he had, even his own life!


6.    The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (vv. 45-46)


Matthew 13:45-46 (45) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: (46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.


This Pearl is our Savior. If ever a sinner sees this great Pearl and rightly discerns his value, he will gladly part with everything to have him. Christ is the Pearl that makes men rich, truly rich, rich toward God, eternally rich!


7.    The Parable of the Great Net (vv. 47-50)


Matthew 13:47-50 (47) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: (48) Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. (49) So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, (50) And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.


The preaching of the gospel is like the casting of a great net into the sea. In the net both choice fish and useless carp are gathered. And gospel preaching gathers both God's elect and the reprobate into the visible church. But, as the fishermen separate the good from the bad and throw the bad away, so at the end of the world God sends his angels, gospel preachers, to sever the carnal professor from the true believer. And the reprobate he will cast into hell.


God’s Scribes


After declaring these seven parables in one sermon, the Lord Jesus asked a question, a question I now ask you. — “Have ye understood all these things?” The multitude answered without hesitation, “Yea, Lord.” But few actually understood his doctrine then, just as few understand his doctrine today. But that gave our Lord occasion to give another brief word of instruction about God’s scribes, those men who speak for God in this world (vv. 51-58).


Matthew 13:51-58 (51) Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.


(52) Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.


(53) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. (54) And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? (55) Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (56) And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? (57) And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. (58) And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.


Men and women look upon God’s servants with greatly varying attitudes. Some give them no honor. Others set them upon pedestals and almost idolize them. What should a believer’s attitude be toward those men who faithfully labor in the work of the Gospel for the benefit of his immortal soul?


Without Honor


Our Lord Jesus tells us plainly that “a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57). Those people among whom our Savior labored, his own neighbors and kinsmen, were offended by the Son of God because of his doctrine, and looked upon him with contempt, giving him no honor. Because they were very familiar with him, they did not esteem him above anyone else.


Our Lord turned this fact into a point of needful instruction to his followers. He tells us that God’s prophets are commonly more highly esteemed by people who live at a distance from them. Every faithful man, in every age and society, has experienced this sad and painful fact (2 Kings 2:23). In this modern age of electronic communication and ease of travel, a preacher is commonly known by many who live far from him, and is often admired by those who see him face to face only a few times a year. Those same people, if they lived near and regularly attended that man’s ministry, would soon cease to honor him.


I learned long ago that it is much easier to be a person’s pastor if he lives a thousand miles away, than it is if he lives next door. As long as he lives at a distance, a man has no sense of responsibility to the church or its pastor, and does not have to fit in with the family.


Double Honor


The Spirit of God tells us that pastors who rule the house of God well, “especially they who labor in the word and doctrine,” are to be “counted worthy of double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17). The word translated “honor” means “value, pay, preciousness, esteem, and dignity.” That means that the man who faithfully labors for your soul is to be counted by you as one worthy of “double” the honor you heap upon him, one to whom you cannot give sufficient honor.


Proper Honor


1st Thessalonians 5:13 tells us precisely what our attitude ought to be with regard to God’s servants. — “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” Let every saved sinner in every Gospel church highly esteem his own pastor in love, realizing that his pastor (if he is God’s servant) devotes his life to the work of the Gospel for the everlasting salvation of those he serves. Give that same love and high esteem to all God’s servants known to you, for Christ’s sake.


Such high esteem is proper honor to faithful men. It is honoring to God and honoring to the Gospel. And this high esteem is the secret to peace in God’s church. Where it is found, there is “peace among yourselves.” Where this proper esteem is not found, in any local church, there is turmoil.


In the light of these 58 verses of Holy Scripture, I ask you, — Do you understand these things?


1.    The Gospel I preach to you is the seed of life.

2.    Faith in Christ, though like tiny mustard seed, penetrates the whole of a person’s life and controls it all.

3.    Only God can separate wheat from tares, the good fish from the bad; and he does it by the preaching of the Gospel.

4.    We (God’s elect, God’s church) are the treasure for which the Lord Jesus gave all.

5.    Christ is the Pearl of Great Price we must have, for which we must give all.

6.    Faithful scribes, faithful Gospel preachers, bring forth to your soul, out of God’s treasure, things new and old for your soul.

7.    Happy, blessed of God are we to whom God has given such boundless grace!






Don Fortner








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