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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!
“Parables of God’s Just Kingdom”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings!
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2014 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes, musings, and thoughts that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
The promise of the kingdom of heaven is ever before us that are awaiting its appearing. We long for that glorious day when we can step our feet on those holy streets paved with gold. But what about right now?
In John’s, and various other’s prophecies of heaven, they gave us visual insights into our future home. But what can the kingdom heaven be likened to right now? Jesus, in several of the parables He uses to teach, shows us the characteristics and makeup of how the kingdom of heaven can be described even while we are still here on this earth and toward the end of days.
In last week’s lesson, Jesus dealt with the Pharisees and taught that it was good to well on the Sabbath. After that, He taught many other lessons and even healed a demoniac, which the Pharisees accused Him of casting out devils by the prince of the devils.
At the end of chapter 12, Jesus declared this bold truth: “Whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother,” (Matthew 12:50; emphasis mine).
After that, opening in chapter 13, Jesus leaves the house from chapter 12 and goes to sit by the seaside (13:1). While there, multitudes of people came to Him to hear what He had to say. Seeing this, He boarded a ship and used it much like we would a stage, and taught lessons to the hearing hearts gathered on the shore of what the kingdom of heaven is likened to.
He started teaching what has become known as the parable of the sower. This parable identifies the different ways people receive the Word by describing the ground the seed (Word) fell on. Some fell by the wayside, some on stony places, some fell among thorns, and some fell on good ground. Following each, He taught what the results of the seed, or the Word, had in each occurrence (Matthew 13:3-8). Then, He said, “Whoever hath ears to hear, let him hear,” (Matthew 13:9).
This parable and the others following are everyday stories that people can relate to with spiritual significance and truth behind it. Each one, including those in today’s lesson, will divulge something of the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 13:11).
Matthew 13:24-30 “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 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? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 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.”
“Another parable put he forth to them.” Leaving the explanation of the parable of the sower to His disciples (Matthew 13:11-23), Jesus turns His attention back to the crowds gathered there to reveal something else regarding the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The parable of the wheat and tares is the second one He teaches.
In this parable, there was a man who is the owner of the field, the “householder.” When we look ahead in verse 37 of this same chapter, we see that the man sowing is the “Son of man,” Jesus Christ Himself. As such, he wants to see growth, blessings, and abundance to come from what he owns and what he does with what he owns. For that to happen, he “sowed good seed in his field” (“good seed” is later identified as “the children of the kingdom,” (Matthew 13:38). As the owner the field (“the world” – Matthew 13:38), he went through great pains to ensure only the best was planted that would benefit the land and bring forth a productive harvest.
“But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” Trying to thwart the good growth the owner of the field intended (which the enemy has sought to do since the beginning of time), while “men” were unaware and “slept,” the enemy seeks to undermine the integrity of the crops in the field by planting weeds, or tares. Tares are identified by Jesus later in this chapter as “the children of the wicked one,” (Matthew 13:38).
Please Note: Our lesson states, “While men slept…” With that, I must ask, are we asleep today? Are we giving space for the enemy to sow bad seed among God’s people? Are we totally unaware of what’s really going on in this world in which we live?
In a previous article I published, I wrote:
“Complacency seems to be the motto for most. Many discuss and debate for change, yet, it is often a road that goes unpaved. Oh, we complain about it. We become filled with rhetoric of the “If it were me . . .” statements. But, do we actually do anything about it? No. We accept things as it is.
The case gets even sadder when we realize our “abundant life” is at stake. Through Christ we have an overflowing promise doled out to us, but it is often picked away by thieves a little at a time until we have nothing left. That same complacent spirit that has invaded the world tries to take over our view of our promise and lulls us into an accepting attitude.
I will tell you this that kind of an attitude will get you robbed over and over again. The only way to stop a thief is to proactively protect what is rightfully yours.” (Stop a Thief!/Word For Life Says)
Everything that the Word says we can have is rightfully ours. But, that doesn’t mean the enemy is going to stop trying to make advances toward the people of God in an attempt to ruin the crops or strip away the promise.
It’s time to wake up and realize we do not live in this world alone. There is an enemy afoot. Christians are not walking around in some sort of invisible glass bubble. We may be living in the world, but just as the Christ whom we have identified with, we are not of the world (John 17:16). And in living here, there are some bad seeds among us sown by the enemy, which is the devil (see Matthew 13:39).
Many are not aware of the devil’s schemes at work, not only during the Bible era but in our day as well. He has been at work throughout the course of history just as Christ has been at work. The field he is working in is the same field that Christ is working in: the world (see Matthew 13:37-43 for Jesus’ specific explanation of this parable). And, tares are planted in by him to try to disrupt the growth of the kingdom of heaven.
The tares in this parable, are supposedly called “darnel” by many, which is poisonous and very harmful for human consumption even though it closely resembles wheat, mimicking it in appearance. Until the grain head appears, or the ears, and it’s just about ready for harvest, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between the two. In that, it makes it hard to immediately identify it for what it is.
The same is true for the wicked people planted by the devil. They may be of similar likeness on the outside, they may even walk and talk and go through all the right motions as the children of the kingdom, but the inside is the real teller of truth. And, when they start growing, what’s on the inside is eventually going to start producing fruit on the outside, for Jesus taught, “Every tree is known by his own fruit,” (Luke 6:44). When that growth happens, it will expose the real from the fake, the good from the bad, those who are for God and those who are against God.
It was not until the “blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also” did the servants get the inkling that something wasn’t right about what was growing in that field. With their suspicions coming to the forefront, they take their concerns to the householder and asked, “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?”
And this is how it is, and this is how the enemy works and one of the tactics he uses against the kingdom of heaven: to plant the false among the true; the fake with the real. The intent if planting bad seed (evil) among the good is to come against the work of God and seeking ways to destroy it from the inside out.
Not only in the world, but in the church as well. Like a cancerous cell that goes undetected for a while at first, by the time it is noticed, the damage is done. So, too, does the enemy use those who are hiding in plain sight because some are not so easily spotted for what they are until they leave damage and insult to the good seed in their wake. Compare to all the times false teachers, people, and Christs that have been mentioned in the Bible who mimic like the tares what is good, but they really produce what is bad and evil (see Matthew 24:5, 23-24; Mark 13:22; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 26; Galatians 2:4; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1). They are great impersonators whom in the end will be openly exposed and dealt with by God.
The Bible warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walked about, seeking whom he may devour,” (1 Peter 5:8). But, he’s not always coming bearing teeth and making noise. As in this parable, he sneaks in behind the scenes, almost undetected, to plant works against the kingdom of heaven.
The spiritual war is real.
The man, the “householder,” recognized it for what it was. He told his servants plainly, “An enemy hath done this.” The enemy is crafty. The devil will stop at nothing in his attempt to come against everything God is for. He is God’s adversary! He is our adversary! And, he wants to mess up the good that Christ has done and continues to do.
Jesus has already taught us the difference between His works in this world and that of the enemy. He said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10). Jesus is working to bring forth a lively harvest while the devil is working to ruin the harvest.
Alarmed, the servant did what most would think is the plausible thing to do in a situation like this: get them out of there before they cause further damage: “Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?”
But the owner had a different plan. Not to bring any unnecessary damage to his wheat crops, he instructed the servant: “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.”
If plants are that precious, how much more are people? The owner didn’t want people getting hurt and torn apart because of mistaken identity. While they are still growing it’s hard to determine who is really who until their fruit is fully ripe and ready for the harvest.
The servant, and us, are commanded not to do damage ourselves by trying to weed out with our own thinking and comparisons of who’s worthy of the kingdom of heaven, and who is not. That decision doesn’t belong to them, and it doesn’t belong to us.
Therefore, the owner said, “Let them 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.”
In Matthew 13:39-43, once again, Jesus reveals the true meaning of all this that was taught in this particular parable. In verse 39, He first tells us the “harvest” is the end of the world, and the reapers He sends into the harvest is “angels.”
“All things that offend, and them which do iniquity,” (Matthew 13:41), will be gathered up by the angels and they shall cast them “into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” (Matthew 13:42). These are the “bundles to burn.” This fateful end is confirmed over and over again in His Word (Malachi 4:1; Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” (Revelation 21:8).
But, the wheat will be gathered into His “barn.” Matthew 13:43 says, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” They’re going to heaven, y’all 🙂 . Later Jesus gives us this promise, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” (John 14:3). And, that’s where the Father is, in heaven, as Jesus previously stated at the end of chapter 12 (see the verse emphasized earlier in the introduction).
So, let Him determine who gets in or not. That is not our job. In our limited thinking, we can do more harm than good. God will sort it all out in the end.
Matthew 13:31-32 “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: 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.”
Next, Jesus teaches His audience from the third parable in this chapter: the “mustard seed.” In our day, we recognize the mustard seed as not being the smallest seed we have ever seen. But, in that land, and in His days upon the earth, the people there were more familiar with the smallness of that seed.
But, even though the seed had small beginnings when it was “sowed in his field,” it grew to be the “greatest among herbs.” Its size became significantly more. So much so, “the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (compare Psalm 104:12; Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6; Daniel 4:12, 21; there are varying ideas on what the birds actually, if anything, represent in this parable).
The kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ, has grown and continues to grow every day. What started out as one man, Jesus, and a few disciples, has reached untold numbers down through the years. As the seed grew and expanded into the “tree” that it was, so too has Christianity expanded her platform, reaching people, nations, and generations with the gospel message, the real truth about the kingdom of heaven and those who want to go there.
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.”
Finally, in this lesson, we come to the parable of the “leaven,” Jesus’ fourth that He teaches in this series of “kingdom of heaven” lessons. Usually, this ingredient is used to reflect the negative and evil, but in this parable, Jesus uses leaven to express the positive.
In this particular story, we see a woman making bread. Mixing “leaven” or yeast into the “three measures of meal” would become a rising agent for the bread. Without the leaven, it would remain flat. Adding in just a little of this ingredient makes the biggest difference in its growth from the inside out.
Leaven, although hidden at first because it’s almost undetectable in the flour, has the power to permeate and change the structure of the bread when it is kneaded into it, so too does the gospel message as it is spread into this world. Peoples and even nations can be changed and converted at the hearing and the receiving into their hearts the true Word of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12).
“Till the whole was leavened.” As children of the kingdom, the good seed, we have been commissioned by Christ to help in the spreading of the gospel message to the whole world. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus gives His disciples and us what has become known as the Great Commission. He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Wherever the gospel message is spread and carried, it has the power to transforms lives.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
Standard Print PDF: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Below are activities to support this lesson. Enjoy!
Word Search: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Word Search Answers: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Word Search Answers
Word Scramble: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Word Scramble Answers: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Word Scramble Answers
Coloring Page: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Coloring Page
Memory Verse: Parables of God’s Just Kingdom Memory Verse
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this lesson. Enjoy!
“Parable of Wheat and Tares” (With a great object lesson idea to get the point across. Enjoy!)
“Parable of Wheat and Tares Lesson PDF” (Broken into several sections, each brings out something necessary for this lesson. Enjoy!)
“Weeds in the Garden” (Printables and group activities including “Weed Art” and “Fruit Bowl.” Enjoy!)
“Weeds and Wheat” (Printables and lesson helps. Enjoy!)
“The Story of the Weeds” (With lesson ideas and hands on activities included. Enjoy!)
“Jesus (Parables)” (This covers many activities for many parables. Enjoy!)
“The Sower and the Soils” (Coloring page for older students)
“The Mustard Seed and the Yeast” (Coloring page for older students)
“The Parable of the Mustard Seed” (Printables and group activities including “Mustard Seed Necklace.” Enjoy!)
“Parable of the Leaven” (With ideas for visual aids and a paper bag activity to help drive the point of the lesson home. Enjoy!)