The reading today is broken into two distinct segments. The first, which occupies most of chapter 13, is entirely teaching and explanation, sometimes with the crowds, and sometimes privately with Jesus’ disciples. The next unit is introduced when Jesus had finished these sayings… and it focuses on action: in Nazareth, in the wilderness, and on the sea.
In chapter 13, Jesus tells at least seven distinct parables having to do with the Kingdom of Heaven: the sower, the weeds, the mustard seed, the leaven, the hidden treasure, the pearl, and the net. In the first, Jesus illustrates the responses people have to hearing the word of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the next six, Jesus paints a picture of this Kingdom that He’s been talking about from the very beginning.
Listen carefully and you will find that these six parables fall into three categories. There are two which speak of the Kingdom’s inevitable bounty. Another two highlight its immense value. And bookending these are two in which people themselves are divided – between those who receive the Kingdom and those who do not: either wheat or weeds, either good fish or bad fish. While little is said about those who receive the Kingdom, Jesus presents a harrowing vision for those who are rejected.
At the end of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His hometown, only to find that there is little willingness to accept Him and therefore, in Matthew’s words, He did not do many mighty works there. After learning of Herod’s interest in Him (brought on by the death of John the Baptist), Jesus attempts twice to withdraw. The first time the crowds find Him, and His compassion moves Him not only heal, but also to feed. The second time He actually does escape, then tracks down the disciples during a storm, at night, out on the sea.
The first time Jesus astounded them on the water, the men asked, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" Today they answer their own question: “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Our verse for this week is Psalm 19:4: Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Matthew 13 and 14. Now let’s read it!
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.