Let those with ears listen

Today we take a jump to chapter 13 in Matthew’s gospel and a series of parables all beginning with very similar words – “The kingdom of heaven is like….” Amongst these parables are some words of explanation, at least that is how the last few verses of our reading is headed. They are not the easiest of explanations to understand but we are left with the words “Listen, then, if you have ears.”

I turned to Dr Google for an explanation of what a parable is and found this definition given by Wikipedia:

parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.

As well as this further explanation from Garry De Vries from the Reformed Theological Seminary about the type of parables:

The three types of parables — ‘didactic’, ‘evangelical’, and, ‘prophetic and judicial’ — they address such topics as: Kingdom, Service, Prayer, Humility, Love of Neighbor, God’s concern for the lost, Gratitude of the redeemed, Preparedness for Christ’s return, Judgement on Israel, Judgement, and Judgment within the kingdom.

Our parables today are kingdom parables. Jesus is trying to teach his disciples, and others who are listening, something about the kingdom. To some it made sense, to others it did not, thus the words at the end of our reading.

Parables are a teaching method, a way of trying to connect the people listening to the story and situation being told. The words and situations would have been very familiar to those who were listening, thus hopefully making it easier to understand. As we look and listen to these parables we need to recognise that we are not the Jews who were listening as Jesus spoke but the followers of Christ who are listening and seeking understanding now.

What do these parables tell us about the kingdom of God? Let’s explore that together and see what we come up with.

Jay Robinson

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