Matthew 13 is full of Jesus’ parables, eight in all. Some are long, like the parable of the sower, some are short, even just one verse, like the parable of the hidden treasure (verse 44) which a man found hidden in a field and “in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”.

They are all parables related to the kingdom – how to be in it. Parable telling was beneath the dignity of the religious leaders but when combined and in conjunction with other scriptures, they show that a heavenly kingdom is coming on earth to replace the kingdoms of men. Which kind of kingdom do we desire to be in?

One parable is of weeds (tares) growing together with the good grain. They are weeds of human thinking and concepts of the meaning of life – recently termed humanism. Only near harvest time is it easy to distinguish which is which! The reapers (angels) are told “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (verse 30). It is plainly stated “the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the weeds, are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age” (verses 39,40).

Another parable is about fishing with a large net “when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So will it be at the close of the age …” (verses 48,49).

The meaning of these parables is plain. The world is nearing its evil climax and whereas there was only one “devil” among the twelve disciples (John 6:70), they abound today, teaching what Jesus did not teach and, sometimes making a good profit out of doing so! Reading on verse 49 says “… at the close of the age the angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

Do you remember how – when his disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable of the sower – the explanation he gave of the seed sown among the thorns? Jesus said, “this is the one who hears (reads?) the word, but the cares of the world – the deceitfulness of riches choke the word …” (verse 22). And how true that is now! May that not include us.