What does it say?
Matthew 13 is a series of seven parables Jesus tells by the Sea of Galilee immediately following his rejection by the Pharisees in chapter 12. All have to do with the nature of the kingdom. The parable of the sower (or soils) speaks of the varied responses people have to the Gospel (13:1-9; explained in 13:18-23). The parable of wheat and the weeds (tares) (13:24-30; explained in 36-43) speaks of the mixture of true and false believers to be sorted out in the final judgment. In like manner, the remaining parables give other characteristics of the kingdom.
Luke 8 mentions the role of certain women in Jesus’ ministry, mentioned only by Luke. Luke also gives the parable of the sower and different soils we just saw in Matthew 13, but not the other parables. Some think this is a different account of the same event; others see another example of Jesus teaching core truth on several occasions to different groups with slightly different applications. Later Luke records the stormy crossing to the country of the Gadarenes where Jesus heals the demonized man. Only Matthew 8 says there were two demonized men, while Mark and Luke evidently focus on the more prominent of the two. The chapter concludes with Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and the daughter of Jairus.
What does it mean?
Only Matthew uses the phrase kingdom of heaven. The other Gospels consistently say kingdom of God. Matthew also says kingdom of God five times. Essentially they are synonymous, but Matthew writes very specifically to Jews as mentioned before. Some see the kingdom of heaven emphasizing earthly aspects of heaven come to earth in the form of the kingdom God promised to his people. Others point out Jewish reverence for the name of God and their hesitation to even pronounce his name as the reason Matthew prefers to say Kingdom of heaven. Let’s focus for now on what Jesus wants us to understand about God’s kingdom, God’s mission and the theme of the Bible.
Both Matthew and Luke make clear that not everyone will understand what Jesus is teaching. Parables are a common teaching technique in first century Israel as we have learned. However, by this time Israel’s leaders are rejecting Jesus. These parables draw a line between those that believe and those that do not.
How will I respond?
I may not understand everything about the material in these two chapters, but what is one lesson about the kingdom that I can apply to my life today?