The seven parables in Matthew 13 were given by the Lord to explain what Jesus called "the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.” These are the mysteries of what God is doing in this present age. This age started on the day of Pentecost and will end when Christ comes to earth to set up His kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation.
In this series we have seen, through the eyes of the Lord, something of what has been happening in our present age just as Jesus foretold it. We can see the history of this age as God sees it and something of what He is accomplishing through it. God is doing things today that are not always apparent to mankind in general but He is working toward a goal - The Kingdom of God on earth. We are involved in it, so it has real meaning for us.
The first parable brought out the fact that there would be a sowing of the truth. That is exactly what the gospel is. The good news is that God is telling lost humanity that the secret to their entrance into this kingdom is the gospel. It’s the remedy for the misery and longing and the loneliness in their hearts and in their lives that comes from not operating according to the program God intended for man in the beginning. God has provided a remedy and that provision is God Himself, living within man’s heart as Savior and Lord.
God has found a way, despite our rejection of Him, to bring us that message. That message will be sown throughout the world, as our Lord made clear in the first parable. Some will receive it and some will refuse it. Those who receive it will grow into the kind of men and women that God had in mind in the beginning.
In the second parable Jesus outlined the fact that there would be a scattering throughout the whole earth of the people who had responded to the truth of the gospel. He would place His people throughout all humanity, geographically and socially -- in every nation, tribe, and tongue. This has been happening throughout history. But, in that same parable Jesus warned that the Devil would have people everywhere and especially in the church sowing false seed so that the good and the evil would mix together in the church until the time of harvest. We can see today how true this mixing is.
In the third parable we saw the growth of the mustard seed which our Lord planted. The mustard seed represents the kingdom. The tree it produced represents everything the world calls Christianity, not just the true Christianity. The birds that nested in its branches are symbolic of Satan and his followers and the evil that has infiltrated Christianity.
The tiny seed of the gospel that was planted among men has grown into a huge church which demands prestige and power among men. This is the prevailing condition in Christendom, in both Catholic and Protestant branches. The result is a negative reaction against true Christianity throughout the world today by the Eastern religions and the Moslem religion in particular.
The fourth parable is of the woman who hid leaven in three measures of meal. This parable is a warning that the true doctrine of the church that is represented by the meal would be corrupted internally by false doctrine called leaven.
Jesus is indicating that some of those in authority in the church, who should have known better and may have known better, would stray from the Word of God and would permit to enter, (and in some cases would even deliberately introduce,) false doctrine and various forms of ritual into the church. This would corrupt and disrupt the precious fellowship of God's people with Him and with each other. We see this today and we know that all too often throughout history this has been the case. Stumbling blocks to a consistent walk with the Lord have been erected and disharmony, discord, and turmoil have arisen between individuals and groups of genuine believers, just as Jesus warned.
When you consider the two parables (numbers five and six) of the treasure hidden in the field and of the pearl of great price together, they give us the purpose of the cross, the reason why Jesus died. He came and gave all that He had in order that He might purchase the field of humanity.
The treasure hidden in the field is Israel. Israel is very much in the forefront of human events now and the world is becoming very aware of that. God has a purpose for that nation. And when He teaches them again the secret of their own lives, when they accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah, the hidden treasure will be re-discovered and the time of world peace and prosperity that the prophets spoke of will come to earth.
Jesus also gave all that He had in order to purchase the pearl of great price, which is the church. In so doing, He made redemption available to all humanity so that individuals could know the secret of peace and the true meaning in life. Out of this would come a new ‘nation,’ a whole new race of people who would have a wonderful purpose far beyond this life and beyond this planet in God's great program for the ages.
That brings us to the seventh parable of the dragnet. It describes what is going on in our present day and what is to come in what I believe will be the near future. This is the characteristic of the kingdom of heaven that is called the gospel. It forces individuals to admit what we really are, in fact, it makes known what we are, just like a dragnet sweeping through the sea gathers fish of every kind and ultimately exposes whether they are good or bad. Whoever is caught in it is forced to reveal whether they are bad or good.
At the close of the age there will be a public manifestation of this division among men. Throughout the age, for almost twenty centuries now, this division has been forming, taking place in the lives of every individual.
We are all part of a fallen race, born into lost humanity. We all create a resistance to truth, if God does not intervene. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the basic truth. Those who deal honestly with this reality and genuinely respond to it are the good. The bad are those who turn their backs and reject it, or else, at worst, play the hypocrite and say they accept it but only accept it outwardly.
Man was created to be indwelt by God. The only way our humanity can be fulfilled is to place our faith in Him and live by faith in Him. The good news about the lost secret of humanity is the fact that Christ is able to restore to the believer all that God ever intended man to be.
I want to repeat one of my opening statements. In this series of parables we have seen through the eyes of the Lord something of what has been happening in our present age, just as Jesus foretold it. We can see the history of this age as God sees it and something of what He is accomplishing in this age. You and I live in and are a part of this age. God is doing things that are not always apparent to mankind in general but He is working toward a goal - The Kingdom of God on earth. We are involved in it.
One way or another, all mankind is involved in it. The only question of importance is:
“are you among the good fish,
the believers in Jesus Christ,
or are you among the bad fish,
those who refuse to accept
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?”