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Sermon 9/26/04
Pictures – Matthew 13:10-11

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“The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them,Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’” (Matthew 13:10-11)

Most of us have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and it’s true – You can SEE things in a photograph or a painting that helps you understand.  I love the paintings of Jesus.  Oh, I understand that He really didn’t LOOK like that, and even the settings of the pictures probably aren’t accurate, no matter how hard the painter tried, but I like them because they convey the emotions present at that time.

I remember one painting, a silk screen reproduction that showed Jesus walking with large strides toward a forest while the disciples trailed next to Him, listening intently to His every word.  His hand was lifted into the air, index finger pointed high, as He revealed something like a parable to them.  His intensity and theirs seemed very real, and I thought as I looked at the painting: “It must have been like that!”

God understood the importance of pictures long before cameras were invented, before paintings were even thought of by mankind; before time itself.  Yes, He paints wonders in the sky, in sunsets and in the clouds, but His “pictures” are also made of words.  He has given us “parables,” word-pictures that are intended to make His people UNDERSTAND, deep in our hearts and minds.

Today’s Scripture is a statement Jesus gave to His disciples after He “spoke many things” in “parables” to a multitude of people (Matthew 13:1-3).  He talked about a “sower” who “went out to sow” seeds in the ground (Matthew 13:3-9).  The seeds would either produce bountiful crops or not, depending on the ground they were planted in.  The point? – WE are that ground.  God is planting the good seed of the Word of God within us.  If it doesn’t produce a good “crop” for God, WE are the problem.

Notice the two-part nature of the parables in God’s Word, as revealed in our Scripture for today:  “It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’” (Matthew 13:10-11).  The multitudes Jesus spoke to (Matthew 13:2 & forward) could not understand, but His disciples would understand.  Was God being unfair?

To answer that charge, we must look to His Word, for He is very clear about who He is and what He expects from us.  First off, He “desires ALL (mankind) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  Paul, the writer of 1st Timothy, tells us both the way and the method of salvation: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  There is no favoritism or partiality with God: He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Way, as Ransom, as payment in full – to ALL humanity!  God’s gift is extended to you; to all.

ALL who receive Jesus Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.  This is seen in places like Acts 2:38, where the Apostle Peter cried out to the Jewish people, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  How is it that the disciples could understand the parables that we see in Scripture and the others could not?  Because of the Spirit of God.

Jesus said to them, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).  “For whoever has (the Spirit), to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (Matthew 13:12).  If you have the Spirit of God, you have everything, now and forever.  If you do not have Him, you actually have nothing and will lose – everything!

Paul the Apostle was an angry, “super-religious” type who hated the people of God (Acts 9:1-2), but then, continuing in Acts Chapter 9, we discover that he found the grace of God in Christ Jesus.  He later wrote these words: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  If we accept the Lord, His Holy Spirit is given to us, and we are saved, in His strength, not in our own.

There has never been anyone who even remotely comes close to the fairness, the justice of God.  He “hates” INjustice: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both” (Proverbs 17:15).  There is always a price that is paid for the actions of the guilty, and none on earth are innocent.  Byron said, “Who on earth could live if all were judged justly?”  The answer is, of course, that NONE could live.  You and I have no hope at all, except for the grace and mercy freely given to us in Jesus Christ.

When we have Him, when we are given His grace, His mercy fills us in the Person of His Holy Spirit and we KNOW the truth found in God’s Holy Scriptures.

It is interesting that much of the historical material in the Bible is also meant as a parable, a picture for our understanding.  Abraham, a real person whose life is recorded in the Book of Genesis, is “the father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11).  The Holy Spirit enables you to look at Abraham in Scripture, and SEE, in word pictures made from his life, what faith is all about.  He is the model for all who believe.

Many in the Old Testament are “types” of the Christ who was to come.  Isaac, Moses and Joshua each show us something of the Lord who was to be born.  Their lives were real.  They were historical people who breathed, ate, worried, made mistakes, struggled with unbelief and ultimately trusted in the Lord.  Often more than one person within a historical context is presented in Scripture as a parable for our understanding.  King David made many mistakes and yet he is a picture of repentance and faith in the Lord.  King Saul, who lived at much the same time, reveals the subtle nature of unbelief.

What “picture” are you presenting to the world?  In the analogy of the seeds, what kind of “ground” are you?  Open yourself to the Lord completely, that you might be given “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”  Let’s pray:  Lord, I trust in You.  Fill me with Your Spirit and let my life be a “picture” of faith in You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FridayStudy.org

www.FirstChurchontheNet.org

E-mail:
Ron@FridayStudy.org
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

 

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