Parables

Please read Mathew 13:1-52, Mark 4:1-34 & Luke 8:4-18
and memorise the Parables

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Matthew 13:1-2 NKJV

Again Yeshua began to teach by the lake, but the crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there, while the crowd remained on shore at the water’s edge. Mark 4:1 CJB

Ministering in a house was good for meeting individual needs, but not for teaching the multitude, and multitudes had come to hear Him. That same day Yeshua had returned to His home – probably arriving in the evening, just after the sun set and so at the beginning of a new Jewish day. That same day His relatives had thought He was loosing His senses and set out to bring Him into custody, he’d not even had time for the evening meal. That same day He had delivered the blind and mute man, possibly as the night had worn on. That same day His mother and brothers had sort to see Him. “On the same day” may have been what we in the west would call “the next morning”, as the crowds starting increasing once more, Yeshua went from His house in Capernaum and walked to the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee is also called Lake Gennesaret, Lake Tiberias, or Lake Kinnereth. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, at levels between 215 metres and 209 metres below sea level. This lake is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. From its southern end the Jordan River (Hebrew: נְהַר הַיַּרְדֵּן‎, Nahar ha-Yarden) continues downward through the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley (Hebrew: בִּקְעָת הַיַרְדֵּן‎ Bik’at HaYarden) is an elongated geological trough, nestled between mountain ranges to the west and to the east, that runs some 105 km (65 miles) from the Sea of Galilee, if measured “as the crow flies”, with a width averaging 10 km (6.2 mile) with some points narrowing to 4 km (2.5 mile), before widening out to a 20 km (12 mile) delta when reaching the mineral-rich Dead Sea, the lowest lake on Earth. Due to meandering, the length of the Jordan River itself is 220 km (140 mi). This is the valley with the lowest elevation in the world, beginning at −212 m (−696 ft) below sea level (BSL) and descending to the surface of the Dead Sea, which is approximately 1,385 feet (408m) below sea level. As the lowest place on earth, the Jordan valley has a unique climate that can produce fruits and vegetables year-round.

The crowds followed in this low place. Now was the time to teach them. Yeshua got into a boat and sat as one did to teach in the synagogue. The crowd hushed, eager to listen to His words. Yet, those words revealed that He knew most of them would not produce the fruit of His teaching.

The Parable of the Sower

This is the first occurrence of the word “Parable” in St. Matthew’s Gospel, and it is clear from the question of the disciples in Matthew 13:10 that it was in some sense a new form of teaching to them. There had been illustrations before, as in that of the houses built on the sand and on the rock in Matthew 7:24-27, but now for the first time He speaks to the multitude in a parable, without an explanation. Not all of the parables Yeshua spoke are recorded for us, but this first parable was particularly significant, and so recorded in all three synoptic gospels. The only other parable thus presented in all three, Matthew, Mark and Luke, is the Parable of the Vine-dressers, one of the last spoken.

Illustration is an example used to explain or prove something. “By way of illustration” = to show the meaning more clearly.

Parable is from the Greek παραβολαῖς, parabolḗ, which comes from pará, “close beside, withand bállō, “to cast“. παραβολαῖς, parabolḗ had been employed by the Greek translators of the Old Testament for the Hebrew word מִשְלֵי, Míshlê, which we commonly render by “proverb,” and which, like the Greek parabole, has the sense of similitude. Eastern proverbs were usually condensed parables, and parables were expanded proverbs. In the later and New Testament use of the word, however, the parable takes the fuller form of a narrative embracing facts natural and probable in themselves. A parable is a teaching aid cast alongside the truth being taught: “to put one thing by the side of another for the sake of comparison, to compare, liken“. Jesus’ parables cast additional light by using an arresting or familiar analogy. A Parable is a pictorial or narrative exhibition of some spiritual or moral truth, by means of actual and not fanciful elements of comparison.

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story that features animals,  legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized, and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral  lesson (a “moral“), which may at the end be added explicitly as a concise  maxim or saying. Judges 9:1-15 contains a fable about trees choosing a king to rule over them that Jotham, Gideon’s son, spoke to the people of Shechem.

Allegory is a simple story that represents a larger point about society or human nature, whose different characters may represent real-life figures. It may have meaning on two or more levels that the reader can understand only through an interpretive process. The Song of Solomon is an allegory. Yeshua used allegories such as those of the vine and the good shepherd.

Yeshua spoke in illustrations, allegories and parables, not fables – His teachings moved solely within the bounds of the people’s lived experiences and used these to illustrate deeper truths. He never used animals, plants, inanimate objects, imaginary beings and forces of nature as actors that assume speech or other powers of humankind. The mode of teaching by parables was familiar enough in the schools of the Rabbis, and the Talmud contains many of great beauty and interest. As used by the Pharisees and Torah Teachers, however, they were regarded as belonging to those who were receiving a higher education, and the son of Sirach was expressing the current feeling of the rabbinical schools when he said of the tillers of the soil and the herdsmen of flocks that they “were not found where parables were spoken” (Ecclesiasticus 38:33). Yeshua had gone down to the low point of the head of the Jordan valley, the Sea of Galilee, to share parables with all the people during this time when seeds were being sown.

It was now the winter wet season. The fields had been ploughed, the fallow ground broken up. The first rains had come, refreshing the soil. Now it was time for the grain planting throughout the Galilee region.

Yeshua taught the people in parables, using stories of the things they knew to be true in order to illustrate principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of the crowd who had gathered from all over Galilee to listen to this rabbi had walked through fields that were being prepared and sown. The image was fresh in their minds.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” . Matthew 13:3-9 NKJV

He taught them many things in parables. In the course of his teaching, he said to them:  “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow;  but when the sun rose, the young plants were scorched; and since their roots were not deep, they dried up.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked it; so that it yielded no grain.  But other seed fell into rich soil and produced grain; it sprouted, and grew, and yielded a crop — thirty, sixty, even a hundred times what was sown.” And he concluded, “Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!” Mark 4:2-9 CJB

After a large crowd had gathered from the people who kept coming to him from town after town, Yeshua told this parable:  “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was stepped on, and the birds flying around ate it up.  Some fell on rock; and after it sprouted, it dried up from lack of moisture.  Some fell in the midst of thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.  But some fell into rich soil, and grew, and produced a hundred times as much as had been sown.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!”
Luke 8:4-8 CJB

The Parable of the Sower is identical in structure and in teaching in the three synoptic gospels, which shows that they were relating the same story. It differs, however, in detail; we thus gather that the three did not copy from one primitive document as some suppose, but that these memories were derived either from their own recollections (Matthew), or at least from different sources (Mark and Luke). The fourth gospel continues to remain silent on this season of Yeshua’s ministry in Galilee.

Mark introduces the parable thus, ἀκούωakouō – meaning hearken! / behold! / listen! / pay attention so as to understand! He thus emphasised that what was about to be spoken was a matter of great importance and concern that deserves our most diligent attention. By “the sower” is meant “the son of man“, as may be learnt from the explanation of another parable (Matthew 13:37), which is Yeshua Himself, who is often so called on account of his human nature. “His seed“; refers to the Gospel, of which He is the author, publisher, sum and substance; and since He is, by way of eminency, “the sower“; which must be understood of him as a prophet, or preacher of the word, who was eminently sent of God, and richly qualified for such an office, and was most diligent in it, and yet the majority of those who had gathered to hear Him would fail to bear fruit. Despite this apparent lack of success, the Kingdom of God would grow exponentially because those who did bear fruit produced up to a hundred times what had been sown into their lives.

Parable of the Lamp

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.  If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:21-23 NIV

No one who has lit a lamp covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed; no, he puts it on a stand; so that those coming in may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nothing is covered up that will not be known and come out into the open.”  Luke 8:16-17 CJB

The furniture of a very humble Eastern home is brought before us in this saying. In the original, each of the nouns has the definite article attached to it, and so suggests that in the house there was but one of each article; one lamp; one ‘bowl’- μόδιος módios – a small piece of furniture that was “a sort of tub in the form of a truncated cone whose base is supported by three or four feet and which contains the wheat supply needed for the household“; one bed, raised slightly, but sufficiently to admit the lamp being put under it without danger; and one lampstand.

The saying appeals to common-sense. A woman does not light a lamp and then hide it. The act of lighting implies the purpose of illumination, and, with everybody who acts logically, its sequel is to put the lamp on a stand, where it may be visible. All was part of the nightly routine of every Jewish household.

All that had hitherto been secret, relative to the salvation of a lost world, or only obscurely pointed out by types and sacrifices, shall now be uncovered and made plain by the everlasting Gospel. The doctrine of Yeshua HaMashiach has nothing in it which fears the light; it is itself the light which must enlighten the world. Everything is brought to light sooner or later. The humble person conceals his virtue in this life, but God will disclose it at the day of eternity. The hypocrite attempts to hide his wickedness here, but all shall be exposed in the sight of heaven and earth.

Openness, honesty and accountability. Nothing will stay hidden. Nothing will remain concealed. Nothing will keep being covered up. Satan plays in the darkness, but Yeshua brings all things into the light. Everything will be disclosed, brought out into the open and made known.

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
Mark 4:24-25 NKJV

Pay attention, then, to how you hear! For anyone who has something will be given more; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” Luke 8:18 CJB

Yeshua was encouraging them all to be like the good soil, to take heed and pay careful attention to what they were hearing Him say, to take in and receive that life-giving seed He was planting with His words, to allow it to take root and grow within them. He was urging them not to be like the ground by the wayside that was so hard it did not receive the seed sown and had it all taken away by the birds. He was urging them not to be like the rocky ground whose soil was not deep enough for His word to take root properly and survive the heat of the day, nor like that which was full of thorns choking out His word so that even what they seemed to hear made no difference to how they lived and was “taken away”. How were they hearing? Were they hearing in order for His words to take root and transform their lives, to bring all the hidden things to light, or were they listening just to try to find a way to justify their darkness and refuse to allow His word to take root in their hearts?

Take heed what you hear” can also be an injunction to be careful in choosing what we listen to. Refuse to give ear to anything that is unwholesome. Turn a deaf ear to gossip and the maligning of others. Turn your ears away from all that is ungodly and tune them in to the Word of God.

Parable of the Growing Seed

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 NKJV

There is something mysterious and miraculous in both how a seed grows in the ground to produce new life and fruitfulness, and how the word of God grows in a person’s heart to produce new life and fruitfulness in the kingdom of God. It is not the farmer who scatters the seed who causes it to grow, but something within the very DNA of the seed itself that produces growth given the right conditions. It is not the one who preaches the word of God, nor is it a matter of how skilled he is in preaching nor how well he is dressed, nor how skilled the musicians are nor how loud the praise and worship music is – but something within the very word of God itself which, given the right conditions within the human heart, grows and produces a great harvest. This growth is not what happens as the word is being preached, but the miraculous work it does in the heart after the preacher has finished preaching, and even while he is sleeping, as the one who heard the word takes heed to what they heard, meditates on it, has their mind renewed by the washing of the word: “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.
’”
Matthew 13:24-30 NIV

A man (in Vs 37-43 Yeshua explains to His talmidim that this man is “the Son of Man”) sowed good seed (children of the Kingdom) in His field (the world – for the whole world is Him). While not all the seed would fall on good soil so not all would be productive, one would expect that everything produced from good seed would be good grain. But that is not the only thing that happened to that field. While everyone was sleeping, without the people being aware, when no one was alert to what was happening, the enemy (Greek = exthros = one who is irreconcilably hostile, animated by deep-seated personal hatred bent on inflicting harm, in Vs 39 Yeshua identifies this enemy as the devil) came and sowed tares (children of the evil one) among the wheat. This enemy carefully chose the type of weed to inflict the most damage to the crop and the farmer – that which looks like the good grain but is not and is indeed poisonous. Tares (Greek = zizania) are very similar in appearance to wheat during their early stages of growth, but even then they taste very different – a young tare is bitter and can cause dizziness if eaten.

The Bearded Darnel, lolium temulentum, was a common tare in Galilee and resembles wheat except that the grains are black. In its early stages it is indistinguishable in appearance from the wheat stalks. Towards the end of their life cycle, when the head of grain forms, the tares become distinguishable and must be separated because at this time they are poisonous and can ruin the harvest. At harvest time – the end of the age -, wheat bends over from the weight of its fruit (grain). Tares, however, remain erect like the head of an arrogant person. At this time the alert farmer separates them – Yeshua sends His angels to remove all who cause others to sin and all evildoers – burning the poisonous tares and reaping the wheat, which shall shine like the sun in the Father’s kingdom.

Parable of the Mustard Seed

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;  but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32 NKJV

The mustard tree has been grown and written about by various cultures for centuries. The Talmud mentions a mustard-tree so large that a man might with ease sit in it; and another, one of whose branches covered a tent. Mustard trees have been found throughout the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. The seeds are one of the smallest in the world and considered a spice in many parts of the world, making its way along trading routes during history. The mustard tree is classified by horticulturalists as an evergreen shrub. It reaches a height of 7m (21 feet) and can be as wide as it is tall with low branches being very close to the ground. The leaves are oval; starting out as dark green and progressing to a light green as the tree ages. The flower is green or yellow and is found in long tendrils. The fruit of the tree is purple with pink or purple seeds. Persia is where mustard trees originated and they  grow best in hot, arid climates, and especially in the rich of the Jordan valley. They sometimes grew to a great height on the banks of the Jordan. 

Mustard trees have a variety of uses. Toothbrushes are made from the branches in rural communities because they contain properties that resist bacteria and plaque. The fruit is eaten for nutrition as well as the seeds; the Punjab region uses the fruit as a dried sweet similar to currants. Mustard trees are also used for shading because of the low branches. Animals can feed on the tree shoots. The different types of mustard trees produce varying seeds. The white mustard tree produces a round seed that is used for mild flavouring and pickling. The black mustard tree also produces hard round seeds; these seeds are more spicy compared to white mustard seeds. Brown mustard trees produce seeds similar to black mustard trees but the seeds have less flavour and is often used in fried foods. Seeds from these trees can also be crushed and used as a spice.

Yeshua was planting the kingdom of heaven in His garden, the Jewish people. This kingdom did not come as a mighty conquering army, but as a tiny seed. He did not demolish Roman or Jewish society, but planted within them the seed of His kingdom that would grow to become larger and more powerful than all – a kingdom of refuge, healing, nurture and shelter for all.

Parable of the Leaven

He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33 NASB

Three can be symbolic of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It can also refer to the whole human race, which consists of three measures, having spread over the earth from the three sons of Noah. The peck here designed, is the Hebrew seah, which held a gallon and an half, and three of these made an ephah; and which is often rendered by the Targumists, (Nyao tlt) , “three specks (ie three pecks)”, the very phrase here used. Genesis 18 contains the first biblical usage of “three seahs of meal.”

And Yahweh appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting in the doorway of the tent at the heat of the day.  And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing near him. And he saw them and ran from the doorway of the tent to meet them. And he bowed down to the ground.  
And he said, “My lord, if I have found favour in your eyes do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest under the tree.  And let me bring a piece of bread, then refresh yourselves.  Afterward you can pass on, once you have passed by with your servant.”
Then they said, “Do so as you have said.”  
Then Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and he said, “Quickly—make three seahs of fine flour for kneading and make bread cakes!
” 
Genesis 18:1-6 LEB

Here, “three seahs of meal” is used in the context of a fellowship meal—giving hospitality, in this case, to God. In Israelite dry measures the smallest unit of measure is an omer. Three omers equal about one seah. There is also the ephah, which is ten omers. Three seahs made up of about three omers equal one ephah. Judges 6:18-19 shows Gideon’s offering to the Lord of an ephah, three seahs, of meal.  I Samuel 1:24 tells of Hannah’s thank offering of one ephah, three seahs of meal. In Ezekiel 45:24 and 46:5, 7, 11 an ephah, three seahs ,of meal is the offerings given at the Feast during the Millennium.

While the Israelites were to totally remove all leaven from their homes in the lead up to the feast of unleavened bread, and no leaven or honey was to be used in any offering that was made by fire to the Lord, there were offerings which the Israelites were to wave before God then eat in fellowship with one another and these were to be of leavened bread:

No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. Leviticus 2:11

With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. Leviticus 7:13

‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the Lord. The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the Lord; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest. 
Leviticus 23:15-17, 20 NASB

The woman, as any woman would, hid the leaven in the flour as she kneaded it. For leaven is of no use sitting up on top of the loaf for all to see – it cannot do it’s work of raising the whole loaf from that position. It is only when it is hidden, mingled in with all the flour and distributed throughout the loaf, that it can raise and aerate the bread.

Parables Explained

Then the talmidim came and asked Yeshua, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” He answered, “Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them. For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away. Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding.  That is, in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) which says,
‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed,
so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah (turn to Me / repent), so that I could heal them.’
But you, how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear! Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.
Matthew 13:10-17 CJB

All these things Yeshua said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without using a parable.  This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet,
I will open my mouth in parables, I will say what has been hidden since the creation of the universe. Matthew 13:34-35 CJB

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
Psalm 78:1-4 NASB

His talmidim asked him what this parable might mean, and he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but the rest are taught in parables, so that they may look but not see, and listen but not understand (Isaiah 6:9). Luke 8:9-10 CJB

And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them.
And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.
Mark 4:33-34 NKJV

The words “he said nothing to them without using a parable” are, of course, limited by the context to this occasion. All of Yeshua‘s teachings to the multitude this day, from this boat on the Sea of Galilee, were in parables. It is also noticeable from this time forward that parables are the dominant element in Yeshua’s teaching to the multitude, and that the mysteries of the kingdom are reserved for the more esoteric instruction of the disciples.

Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him… Matthew 13:36 AMP

From the boat in the amphitheatre of the Galilee basin Yeshua projected His voice for all the multitude to hear these parables. They could easily remember and relate to the scenes He portrayed, and ponder on His meaning. After He had finished teaching the multitudes, Yeshua retired again to His house in Capernaum with just His talmidim – men and women who had left everything to sit at His feet to learn of Him; “With Him were the Twelve, and a number of women” (Luke 8:1-2). The first explained parable we have recorded is that of the sower:

Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and  grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 
Matthew 13:18-19 AMP

And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. Mark 4:13-15 NKJV

“The parable is this: the seed is God’s message.   The ones along the path are those who hear, but then the Adversary comes and takes the message out of their hearts, in order to keep them from being saved by trusting it.
Luke 8:11-12 CJB

The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy;  yet he has no  [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation].
Matthew 13:20-21 AMP

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
Mark 4:16-17 NKJV

The ones on rock are those who, when they hear the word, accept it with joy; but these have no root — they go on trusting for awhile; but when a time of testing comes, they apostatize. Luke 8:13 CJB

And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. Matthew 13:22 AMP

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,  and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Mark 4:18-19 NKJV

As for what fell in the midst of thorns these are the ones who hear; but as they go along, worries and wealth and life’s gratifications crowd in and choke them, so that their fruit never matures.  Luke 8:14 CJB

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23 AMP

But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word,  accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Mark 4:20 NKJV

But what fell in rich soil — these are the ones who, when they hear the message, hold onto it with a good, receptive heart; and by persevering, they bring forth a harvest. Luke 8:15 CJB

As the afternoon wore on, Yeshua continued teaching His disciples, and answering their questions. Yeshua did not shy away from declaring the coming judgment, and describing it in vivid terms:

His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain [clearly] to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,  and the field is the world; and [as for] the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the weeds are the sons of the evil one;   and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.  
So just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [those things by which people are led into sin], and all who practice evil [leading others into sin],  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger].  Then the righteous [those who seek the will of God] will shine forth [radiating the new life] like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words.
Matthew 13:36-43 AMP

Parables for His Talmidim

Yeshua continued with His teaching of this smaller group who walked with Him, affirming their decision to give up all for the sake of the kingdom of heaven…

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.  

Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

What terrific strength of language—the “casting” or “flinging” expressive of indignation, abhorrence, contempt (compare Ps 9:17; Da 12:2): “the furnace of fire” denoting the fierceness of the torment: the “wailing” signifying the anguish this causes; while the “gnashing of teeth” is a graphic way of expressing the despair in which its remedilessness issues (see Mt 8:12)! Yeshua deemed this warning so important that He repeated it (Vs 42 & 50).

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.” 

And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”  Matthew 13:44-52 NABRE

When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
Matthew 13:53 NABRE

REFERENCES

1.https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-3.htm
2. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/matthew-13-3.html
3. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/4-2.html
4. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-9.htm
5. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/8-4.htm
6. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-21.htm
7. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/kingdom-god-mustard-seed.html
8. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-30.htm
9. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-31.htm
10. https://www.gardenguides.com/124943-mustard-tree.html
11. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-33.htm
12. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/3589/Three-Measures-of-Meal-.htm
13. https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Leaven
14. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-34.htm
15. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-42.htm
16. HELPS Ministries, The Discovery Bible. https://thediscoverybible.com/

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Are there any cultural differences between the farmer sowing his seeds in Jesus’ parable and methods of farming or types of crops in your region?
* What does the parable of the sower teach your people?
* What lighting do you have for houses in your region or in other areas where you minister?
* What does the parable of the lamp teach your people?
* What does the parable of the growing seed teach your people?
* What weeds do your farmers have to deal with, are there any which look like the good plants they are trying to grow? What methods work best in your area for destroying the weeks while saving the good plants?
* What does the parable of the parable of the wheat and tares teach your people?
* Do you have mustard seeds and trees in your area, how well do they grow where you live? If not, do you have another large, useful plant that grows from a tiny seed?
* What does the parable of the mustard seed teach your people?
* What does the parable of the leaven teach your people?
* What are the most important lessons for your people from these parables?

Misunderstood

Please read Mark 3:20-35, Matthew 12:22-50
& Luke 11:14-28, 8:1-21

After this, Yeshua travelled about from town to town and village to village, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. With Him were the Twelve,  and a number of women who had been healed from evil spirits and illnesses — Miryam (called Magdalit) (Mary called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out;  Yochanah (Joanna) the wife of Herod’s finance minister Kuza (Chuza); Shoshanah (Susanna); and many other women who drew on their own wealth to help him. Luke 8:1-3 CJB

Luke names three of the women who walked with Yeshua and the apostles, Mary called Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna, then adds “and many other women”. These other women were strong and independently wealthy. They had the courage to go against the norms of their society to walk with Yeshua and fund His ministry. Following Yeshua was not a male only enterprise. This reforming rabbi accepted both women and men as His talmidim. He accepted both those who had been religious zealots and those who had been notorious sinners as His talmidim. All who were willing to lay aside everything to follow Him had an important part in His kingdom and ministry.

And He came home (into a house), and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal (ἄρτος bread).  When His own people (kinsmen) heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” Mark 3:20-21 NASB

Yeshua returned to Capernaum, probably to His house where the roof had been torn up to lower the paralysed man. Capernaum was no longer the welcoming place that it had once been. The last time He had been in Capernaum, Yeshua had healed a man’s hand in the synagogue on Shabbat, an act which the religious leaders considered to be a flagrant disregard for their Sabbath laws. This, on top of having the audacity to declare the paralytic’s sins forgiven and eating with Tax Collectors and “sinners”, had been the final straw. The religious leaders did not want Him back in their synagogue, nor in their town (http://blog.renewal.asn.au/2020/08/22/new-kingdom-new-structure/).

After a busy schedule as a travelling rabbi, Yeshua may have returned home for a little bit of rest and relaxation, to refresh before going back out to meet all the needs again. He probably arrived just as the sun was setting – at the beginning of a new Jewish day. But the crowds had grown even more since He was last here. So many people. So many needs. His home was not a reprieve from the needs of others, the needy multitudes came and filled it. There was no time for the evening meal. Yeshua just kept giving and giving to meet those needs. His focus was on the Father’s will. The people just kept coming, the more needs were met the more people came. It appeared there was no end to the needs, no end to the lines of people pressing in to receive their miracle as the night wore on. As we shall see, such crowds aroused the ire of the religious leaders and concern of Yeshua’s relatives.

It was for His sake, His relatives reasoned, that they had to stop His ministry, stop this craziness, and retrieve Him from the crowds. Yeshua’s actions were not those of a “normal” man seeking his own welfare and family honour. They were the actions of a man possessed with a passion for the Kingdom of Heaven. They were the actions of a man who cared not for the things of this world. Even His own relatives could not understand why He was acting thus. They were a devout, religious family, but this was outside of their traditions and contrary to everything that was considered to be sound reasoning. Jewish religious and family life revolved around meals, and Yeshua was ignoring these completely as He extended Himself in healing and teaching the people. There was little opportunity even for sleep that night.

Lost His senses” comes from the Greek root word eksistemi. It means to be mentally displaced, “beside oneself“, overwhelmed with the situation. The same word is used when Yeshua heals the paralytic (Mark 2:12) and Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:42), and when He calms the storm after walking on water (Mark 6:51). In this case, however, it suggests that Yeshua’s family had concluded that He was so overwhelmed by the crowds that He was no longer acting rationally and His actions—which they felt were out of control—could have a serious effect on the wellbeing of His family.

So they resolved to find and krateo Him. The Greek word krateo means to place under one’s grasp, to seize hold of and bring under one’s control. It implies forceful action which gains the upper hand. Yeshua’s relatives believed the gossip (“heard of this”) and concluded that they needed to take control of the situation – they needed to take forceful action to bring the Son of God under their control. He, however, was not the one who needed to be brought under control.

There was a battle going on over who would take control. While Yeshua’s relatives sort to take control of Him, demons had taken control of a man and this man’s friends brought Him to Yeshua to be set free. The Pharisees and religious leaders tried to take back control of the situation by accusing Yeshua of using demonic power to cast out the demons. Neither force nor accusation could stop what God was doing through His Son.

Then some people brought him a man controlled by demons who was blind and mute; and Yeshua healed him, so that he could both speak and see.  The crowds were astounded and asked, “This couldn’t be the Son of David, could it?” 

But when the P’rushim (Pharisees) heard of it, they said, “It is only by Ba‘al-Zibbul” — the ruler of the demons — “that this man drives out demons.”

However, knowing what they were thinking, Yeshua said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not survive. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself; so how can his kingdom survive? Besides, if I drive out demons by Ba‘al-Zibbul (Beelzebul), by whom do your people drive them out? So, they will be your judges!  But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you! Or again, how can someone break into a strong man’s house and make off with his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? After that he can ransack his house.

Those who are not with me are against me, and those who do not gather with me are scattering.  

Because of this, I tell you that people will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will not be forgiven.  One can say something against the Son of Man and be forgiven; but whoever keeps on speaking against the Ruach HaKodesh will never be forgiven, neither in the ‘olam hazeh (this age) nor in the ‘olam haba (age to come). Matthew 12:22-32 CJB

In asking: “This couldn’t be the Son of David, could it?” the crowd were questioning if Yeshua was Israel’s long awaited Messiah. Who else but Messiah, their eternal King, could exercise such power and authority over demonic forces? Many longed to see Him exercise such authority over the oppressive Roman forces as well – such was their expectation of Messiah. Yet, Yeshua makes it very clear that His arch enemy is not the Roman emperor, but Satan, and those who are not with Him are on Satan’s side, those who are not gathering the people to Him are scattering them for Satan. Thus, the very ones who are accusing Yeshua of being in league with the ruler of the demons are themselves engaged in Satan’s work.

And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”  

Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.  But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armour on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters. Luke 11:14-23 NASB

The finger of God bringing the Kingdom of God upon them raised such hopes in the people. Surely the Roman Empire would have to bow to such a kingdom. Messiah would cast out their enemies and set them free from Roman oppression. Yeshua was talking of a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom not of this world, and demonstrating God’s authority through this kingdom. Increasing numbers of the people were looking for this kingdom to demolish the Roman Empire of this world – they were looking for Messiah to reign over the whole world as Daniel’s rock which grew into a mountain which filled all the earth. Such expectations scared the Jewish leaders who feared Rome’s reaction should the people rise up against them. Yet, this expectation was also the standard by which the religious leaders judged any messianic claims. On both counts they stood against the Son of God and refused to accept the testimony of the miracles He did in delivering the people from demonic oppression.

The Torah-teachers who came down from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) said, “He has Ba‘al-Zibbul (Beelzebul) in him,” and “It is by the ruler of the demons that he expels the demons.” 

But he called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan expel Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom can’t survive;  and if a household is divided against itself, that household can’t survive. So if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he can’t survive either; and that’s the end of him.  Furthermore, no one can break into a strong man’s house and make off with his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. After that, he can ransack his house. 


Yes! I tell you that people will be forgiven all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; however, someone who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.” For they had been saying, “He has an unclean spirit in him.”
Mark 3:22-30 CJB

βλασφημέω – blasphēméō – comes from blax, meaning sluggish or slow, and pheme, meaning reputation or fame, thus denotes a refusal to acknowledge good or venerate that which is worthy of respect. Blasphemy slanders what is good by equating it with evil and thus reverses moral values. It misidentifies evil and good. It calls good evil, and evil good, thus defaming the good.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
Isaiah 5:20 NASB

The Torah-teachers were misidentifying the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as an unclean or evil spirit by saying that it was by the ruler of the demons that Yeshua cast out demons. In so doing they were hardening their hearts against the truth, deliverance and salvation that God had sent them in Christ.

Yeshua is alluding to the Numbers 15 passage about blasphemy (Matt 12:31-32 ; Mark 3:28-29 ; Luke 12:10). Numbers 15:22-31 distinguishes between unintentional sin committed in ignorance (for which forgiveness is possible), and defiant sin, called blasphemy, for which there is no forgiveness.

‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner,  blasphemes Adonai (the Lord) and must be cut off from the people of Israel.  Because they have despised Adonai’s word and broken His commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”
. Numbers 15:30-31

Yeshua teaches that the blasphemy for which there is no forgiveness is that done defiantly against the Ruach HaKodesh; all other blasphemies, even those against “the Son of Man, ” may be forgiven (Matthew 12:32). Insults thrown at Yeshua may be forgiven because they are committed in ignorance of who He really is: His heavenly glory does not appear on earth. This is significant, in taking on human form and coming as the sacrifice for our sins, Yeshua laid aside His majesty that cannot be blasphemed because it was through bearing the ultimate blasphemy against Himself that our salvation was purchased, even as God had foretold through the prophet Isaiah:

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:3-12 NIV

This downgrading of the significance of blasphemy against Yeshua marks an important difference between Christianity and Islam. Whereas Muslims are bound to defend the honour of the Prophet, for Christians Yeshua is the one who says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” (Rom 15:3, quoting Psalm 69:9). He deliberately accepts the vilification of others and prays for the forgiveness of those who insult Him (Luke 23:34). In this, He sets an example for Christians to follow. According to Peter ( 1 Pe 2:19-25 ), we must accept insult and blasphemy without retaliation, as He did.

Yeshua said: “people will be forgiven all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter…” In this world we see so much sin and hear so many people call evil things good and good things evil. All this can be forgiven. Even the most heinous sins can be forgiven – such is the power of the cross. Whatever sins (and promotions of sin) really upsets or angers us – they have been, and will be, forgiven.

“…however, someone who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.” It was not those Jews who were identified as terrible sinners who were committing an eternal sin, but the religious leaders who identified themselves as the righteous in the community and example for others to follow. These were the ones who were blaspheming against the Ruach HaKodesh, who were deliberately misidentifying the HaKodesh (holy) as demonic in order to reject the truth of who Yeshua was and what He had come to do. To deliberately ascribe obvious manifestations of the Ruach HaKodesh to the devil’s agency is a serious offense not committed in ignorance but out of pride that refuses to submit to God’s working in our life.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 NIV

Proverbs 18:21 states: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Here Yeshua links that power to the state of the heart that is producing the words uttered by the tongue. Those who are blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh by accusing Yeshua of having an unclean spirit in Him are, by their very words, giving evidence to the evil in their own hearts. “I didn’t mean it” is not an excuse that will stand on judgment day. Every utterance displays what type of person we are.

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. . Matthew 12:38-42 NIV

And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”
. Luke 11:29-32 NKJV

The prophet Jonah – יוֹנָה – is mentioned in II Kings 14:25 during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC) of Israel (the Northern Kingdom), before the Assyrians under King Shalmaneser conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. The Book of Jonah is one of the key readings in Judaism during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which occurs on the tenth day of Tishri following Rosh Hashanah. Jonah provides a parable of mercy, sin can be repented of and judgment averted, with God’s loving mercy and forgiveness. Jonah was a disobedient prophet, who ran away rather than perform God’s mission because he wanted Israel’s enemies destroyed for their sins. He is punished and swallowed by a great fish, but repents and prays, and receives God’s abundant mercy, and carries out his mission to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The King and all the people listened to Jonah’s warning of punishment and put on sackcloth and ash. When Jonah becomes upset over God’s mercy towards Israel’s enemy, God teaches him a lesson.

For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.” Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites of their sinfulness and need for repentance to avert the coming judgment. Likewise, Yeshua was a sign to that generation of Jews of their sinfulness and need for repentance to avert the coming judgment. All the Ninevites heeded the sign of Jonah which God had given to them and humbly repented. Only some of Yeshua’s generation heeded the sign of His death and resurrection and humbly repented. Yeshua is also a sign to us – how are we responding to this sign from God?

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.Yeshua did many miracles, but the sign of Him being their longed for Messiah would be His death, entombment in the ground for 3 days, and resurrection. If they refused to repent and believe after that they would be without excuse. From early in His ministry, Yeshua was telling the people about his upcoming death and resurrection, but they could not grasp what He was saying because it was so contrary to their expectations of Messiah.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
. Matthew 12:43-45 NIV

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’  And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.  Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26 NKJV

Having foretold that the existing generation would be condemned on the judgment day by the Ninevites and that queen from the South, Yeshua now proceeds to explain in an allegorical way the condition of things on which this melancholy certainty is founded. The case of this generation, He says, will be very much like that of a demoniac, into whom the demon that has been expelled from him is ever seeking to return. The demon finds his former abode ready for his reception, and, reinforced by seven others still more wicked than himself, he again enters the demoniac, making his latter condition worse than the former. So will it be with this generation, which, though it should happen to undergo a temporary amendment, will relapse into its old state of confirmed wickedness, and become worse than before. The reason of this is to be found in the fact that the people in question have never repented and entered into the kingdom of God. Attempts to mend their ways without changing their allegiances will ultimately prove worse than futile, as the coming degeneration and destruction by Rome would prove.

Luke’s account, in omitting the reference to “this wicked generation” brings the focus onto the individual. Deliverance is wonderful, but if not accompanied by repentance and coming under the protection of the Lordship of Christ, the individual is left open to re-possession that is worse than their original state.

And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Luke 11:27-28 NKJV

A certain woman of the company: observing the miracle Yeshua had wrought, in casting out a demon, and being ravished with his wisdom, in which He so fully cleared Himself, and so strongly confuted His enemies, and perhaps believing Him to be their long-expected Messiah, expressed her admiration of His character: lifted up her voice, and called out above the noise of the gathered crowd, and with great earnestness and fervour proclaimed in the hearing of all the people: “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” This was a form of blessing among the Jews: so it is said of R. Joshuah ben Chananiah, a disciple of R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, who lived about these times, “blessed is she that bore him”. The religious leaders may have been full of blasphemy, but this woman recognised the good and had the courage to speak it out loudly in defiance of them. Her exhortation was with a Jewish blessing that proclaimed the honour brought to a family by one who gave so much to their community. This blessing refuted the actions of Yeshua’s relatives who had sort to forcefully bring Him in, considering Him to have “lost His mind”. This blessing refuted the accusations of the Torah teachers and P’rushim (Pharisees) who were saying He had an unclean spirit. This blessing was the first direct fulfilment of the words of the Magnificat, “All generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Yeshua’s response affirms the woman’s words and then immediately points us to an even greater blessing, that of hearing and keeping God’s word. Acknowledging Christ’s greatness, as this woman was doing, is valuable only to the extent that it results in us hearing and obeying God’s word. That is the true measure of our praise.

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 

Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50 NIV

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’
‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’
Mark 3:31-35 CJB

Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.  And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”
But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Luke 8:19-21 NKJV

Had Mary and her other sons heard the woman’s blessing? It is possible that this loud proclamation is what greeted Mary’s ears as she tried to approach the house where her first-born was crowded in on by the multitudes. Such was the crowd that she could not get through to Him, not even close enough to attract His attention. Yet there were some in the crowd who recognised Mary, and word spread that she was wanting to see her eldest son.

The context suggests that they held concerns for Him, no doubt some of the leaders who felt threatened by His words, actions and popularity had a few words to Mary about the deadly consequences if Yeshua continued down this defiant path. Even Yeshua’s own mother had times of doubt and concern over her son’s ministry, times when she misunderstood what He was doing and saying. Mary was a woman of great faith, but she was also a mother who longed to see only good come to her son. Yeshua was much more gentle with her than with His disciple Peter when he tried to hinder the path to the cross: “Get behind meSatan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23 NIV). The gentle reminder He sent to His mother, and to all of us, was: “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

REFERENCES

1. “What Does Mark 3:21 Mean?,” Got Questions Ministries, accessed October 3, 2020, [https://www.bibleref.com/Mark/3/Mark-3-21.html]
2. “What Does Mark 3:22 Mean?,” Got Questions Ministries, accessed October 3, 2020, https://www.bibleref.com/Mark/3/Mark-3-22.html
3. Clarke, Adam. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “The Adam Clarke Commentary”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/mark-3.html. 1832.
4. Barnes, Albert. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/mark-3.html. 1870.
5. Exell, Joseph S. “Commentary on “Mark 3”. The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/mark-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.
6. Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/mark-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
7. Gill, John. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/mark.html. 1999.
8. Beza, Theodore. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “The 1599 Geneva Study Bible”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/mark-3.html. 1599-1645.
9. Lightfoot, John. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/mark-3.html. 1675.
10. Johnson, Barton W. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “People’s New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/mark-3.html. 1891.
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12. Vincent, Marvin R. DD. “Commentary on Mark 3”. “Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/mark-3.html. Charles Schribner’s Sons. New York, USA
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28. Howard Marshall, Theology 67 (1964): 65-67; R. Simpson. Blasphemy and the Law in a Plural Society.
29. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g987
30. The Book of the Prophet Jonah https://biblescripture.net/Jonah.html
31. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/12-43.htm
32. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/11-27.htm

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Even those Jesus had grown up with, His own family, could not understand His life and ministry, and concluded that He had lost His senses and needed to be protected from Himself. Often His disciples are misunderstood by those close to them, family and church. Describe a time when you have been misunderstood as you followed Jesus, or when you had misunderstood someone else and only later realised that they had been obeying God in what they were doing.
* In 1st Century Jewish culture there were strong family expectations and it was very difficult to do things differently. Such was considered to be bringing shame onto your family. How does that compare to your culture?
* What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ relatives attempt to forcefully bring Him under their control?
* What roles did women play in Jesus’ ministry?
* What do we learn about deliverance from these passages?
* What do your people need to learn from Jesus’ teachings in this portion of scripture?
* How do people in your culture speak a blessing over someone?
* What did your people learn from Jesus’ response to the woman’s blessing?
* What does it mean to do the will of our Father in heaven?