Skip to content

Parables of the Kingdom 御国のたとえ話

I love stories. As a kid, I loved reading Winnie the Pooh. I loved reading The Wind in the Willows and the Just So stories. As an adult, I love reading Winnie the Pooh and the Wind in the Willows and the Just So stories. I also love reading novels like The Green Mile and Forrest Gump and The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Stories are great. They are great entertainment but stories are more than that. Fictitious stories can actually shed light on reality and the human condition sometimes better than ‘life lesson’ books.

Jesus seemed to think so, too. That’s why he told so many parables. Jesus loved parables.

Last Sunday I mentioned that Jesus often used parables to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is like. Matthew 13 alone contains 8 of these parables:
The parable of the sower 種を蒔く人のたとえ話
The parable of the weeds 毒麦(どくむぎ)のたとえ話
The parable of the mustard seed からし種のたとえ話
The parable of the yeast パン種のたとえ話
The parable of the hidden treasure 隠された宝のたとえ話
The parable of the pearl 真珠のたとえ話
The parable of the net 網のたとえ話
The parable of the good householder 良い一家の主人のたとえ話

All these parables give us a better idea of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
これらのたとえ話はすべて私たちに天の御国がどんなところか 分かりやすくしてくれます。
All these parables help us bring the Kingdom of heaven to the earth (‘Your Kingdom come’).
All these parables help us to reclaim what was lost in the Fall of Man.

Today, let’s look at three of these parables.

The Parable of the Weeds

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “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?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 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.’”
25 人々が眠っている間に敵がきて、麦の中に毒麦をまいて立ち去った。
26 芽がはえ出て実を結ぶと、同時に毒麦もあらわれてきた。
27 僕たちがきて、家の主人に言った、『ご主人様、畑におまきになったのは、良い種ではありませんでしたか。どうして毒麦がはえてきたのですか』。
28 主人は言った、『それは敵のしわざだ』。すると僕たちが言った『では行って、それを抜き集めましょうか』。
29 彼は言った、『いや、毒麦を集めようとして、麦も一緒に抜くかも知れない。
30 収穫まで、両方とも育つままにしておけ。収穫の時になったら、刈る者に、まず毒麦を集めて束にして焼き、麦の方は集めて倉に入れてくれ、と言いつけよう』」。
This parable is very easy to understand because Jesus Himself explains it.
Man sowing good seed = Jesus 良い種をまいている人=イエス
The field = the world 畑=この世
Good seed = children of the Kingdom 良い種=御国の子どもたち
Weeds = children of the devil 毒麦=悪い者の子どもたち
Enemy = devil 敵=悪魔
Harvest = end of the age 収穫=世の終わり
Harvesters = angels 刈る者=御使い

But true to a good story, there’s more to it than simply knowing who the characters are.

What’s this? [image]
This is not wheat. It’s darnel. It’s a weed that commonly grows amongst wheat. This is the weed that Jesus was probably referring to.
What’s this? [image]
This is wheat. Wheat and darnel (at first anyway) look quite similar, don’t they?

This helps us to understand both the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of the world. At first glance, even side by side, they can look very similar. But we know that wheat is a vital staple diet for the world. Jesus referred to it when He said “I am the bread of life”. Wheat sustains. It nourishes.

Look at what Wikipedia says about darnel:

Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears.
Darnel can be infected by a fungus which can be fatal. The French name echoes the scientific name [which means] “drunk.”

Don’t be fooled by any apparent goodness of the world – humanistic philosophies, good natured religions, and even various media which typically present a very positive, fun image and glamorous world. Don’t be deceived. In the early stages, these things can look similar to the teachings of Jesus and can give the appearance of sustaining you. But upon maturity, one is life-giving, the other is lethal. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the world are completely different.
If you want to be a part of the Kingdom of God, stay true to Jesus, the only sower of good seed.
One more thing about this parable.
27 “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?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
27 僕たちがきて、家の主人に言った、『ご主人様、畑におまきになったのは、良い種ではありませんでしたか。どうして毒麦がはえてきたのですか』。
28 主人は言った、『それは敵のしわざだ』。すると僕たちが言った『では行って、それを抜き集めましょうか』。
When bad things happen – sickness, violence, broken relationships, destruction etc – people are very quick to ask, ‘How could a loving God allow this? ‘Why did God do this?’ Where did these weeds come from?”
Jesus’ answer is clear: it’s not from God! “An enemy did this.” 『それは敵のしわざだ』 It’s another reminder that the world we see and experience is not the world God created. There is the Kingdom of God and there is the Kingdom of satan. The two should never be confused.
The end of the parable is sobering. At the end of the age, there will be a judgement. Those who are found to be ‘false wheat’ will be thrown away and burned. Those who are found to be true wheat will be taken into God’s Kingdom and rewarded.

2. The parable of the mustard seed
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 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.”
32 それはどんな種よりも小さいが、成長すると、野菜の中でいちばん大きくなり、空の鳥がきて、その枝に宿るほどの木になる」。
Let’s look at a mustard seed. [image]
Now look at a mustard tree. [image]
You have to marvel. How can such a large tree come from such a tiny seed? How does that happen? That’s a miracle right there.

And Jesus uses this as a very accurate illustration of His Kingdom. Even if we start with a faith that is so small and seemingly insignificant, in God’s garden it can grow into something that is big, strong and able to comfort and support others.

Now, a simple question. Was Jesus able to heal the sick? イエスは病んでいる人を癒すことができたでしょうか?
Was he able to drive out demons? イエスは悪霊を追い出すことができたでしょうか?
Was he able to raise the dead? イエスは死人をよみがえらせることができたでしょうか?

No. [You’re all wrong!] Jesus could do none of these things. Do you think I’m being heretical saying this? What did Jesus Himself say?
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself. John 5:19
While Jesus was 100% God (“The Word was God” John 1:1), He chose to live with the same limitations that man has. (“He gave up his divine privileges” Phil 2:7)

Jesus performed miracles, wonders and signs as a man in a right relationship with God the Father… but not as God. If He performed the miracles because He was God, then we cannot relate to that and his works don’t apply to us. But if He performed His miracles as a man, then we are responsible for pursuing His lifestyle. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything, and makes possible the teaching where Jesus said that His followers would be able to do the same things He did, and even greater things than He did. (John 14:12)

There were two distinct things about Jesus humanity:
i. He was sinless
ii. He was completely dependent on God the Father

There are two distinct things about our humanity:
i. We are sinners who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and been declared righteous. There is now nothing to separate us from the Father… (but)
ii. How dependent on God the Father, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, are we?
That’s the critical factor.

Too often, I believe, our eyes are on ourselves and our own limitations, rather than on God and His limitlessness. As Johnson put it, “We are often more convinced of our unworthiness than we are of His worth. Our inability takes on greater focus than His ability.” This approach is inconsistent with Kingdom living.

The encouragement we get from Jesus in the parable of the mustard seed is that it only requires tiny faith in God to achieve great things.

3. The parable of the good householder

Do you understand these two parables – the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the weed?
There is a special reason why I’m asking if you understand them, and that reason is found in another parable in this chapter of Matthew. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the gospels but I don’t ever remember reading this gospel! It’s very short and very simple and I wonder how many of you, too, have let this very important parable go under the radar?

Before I read the parable, you need to know that Jesus asked his disciples the same question that I just asked you: “Do you understand these parables?” They replied that they did. So Jesus then told them this parable (and I’ll conclude with this):

52 “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52

Here we have the parable of the good householder, which is intended to bind together all the other parables.

Jesus encourages his disciples to understand and to learn so that they might then teach.

He compares them to a good householder, who brings out of his storeroom both new and old treasures; fruits of both last year’s growth and this year’s gathering, truths both from the Old Testament and the New Testament; learnings from both old experiences, and new experiences, past blessings and new mercies, previous anointings and new fillings. We must not be content to live out our faith on old mercies. We must be adding new. We must be continually seeking the Kingdom of God.

But there’s more to the Kingdom of God than just a new knowledge and a fresh filling of the Spirit. Many are full, but they have no vent (Job 32:19); have talent and gifts, but they bury them. Jesus calls these disciples ‘unprofitable servants’.

But Jesus Himself received so that he might give. And the command is the same for us: Freely you have received so freely give. (Matthew 10:8) ただで受けたのだから、ただで与えるがよい。