Parables, parables, parables! There are seven separate parables in this chapter; interspersed with explanations of them, the reason for them, and the consequence of them.
First, lets do a word study. The word parable comes from a Greek word (parabole) that means, “a spoken or literary ‘comparison’ between two things for illustration.” As literary device we can identify metaphor, allegory, proverbs and riddles and serving similar functions. According to Scott Hahn, a New Testament scholar, Jesus uses parables for two reasons: two reveal and to conceal divine mysteries. In Matthew’s Gospel, notice the way Jesus moves from the straightforward teaching of the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7, to using parables in chapter 13, to his rejection by the Pharisees at the end of the 13th chapter. Why would Pharisees reject him and his teaching? Dr. Hahn answers this too: by using parables Jesus is inviting the humble and simple people to reach beyond simple images to grasp the great Mysteries and Truths of God. In this way, he is revealing the Kingdom. Conversely then, parables also obstruct these Truths and Mysteries from those who are unworthy or hypocritical like the Pharisees. So, in this way, the parables indict the Pharisees and Sadducees and Scribes of their faithlessness.
[Remember that Jesus’s culture was an agrarian one: they would have seen the point and deep meaning of using the agrarian images like the sower, wheat, leaven, the harvest season, etc.]
So, with this in mind, lets turn to the parables themselves. As I said, there are seven in total. And they are all about the “Word” that Jesus is preaching and teaching. The last three are about the Kingdom of God.
So we read these parables and then we land. It seems to me that the parabolic teachings of Jesus are key to understanding his universal message of Repentance and Redemption. The use of parables can cause a natural response of deep thinking and praying that can reveal, and not conceal, the great Truth, Mysteries and ultimate Beauty of God’s very being.
Point for Prayer
Go back and read vv. 45-46; sit with it for a minute and then answer this question in your prayer: why is my faith in Jesus like a pearl of great price? Finish with a few minutes in silence and a prayer of gratitude for your relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and your Baptism in His name.