Matthew 13 is full of parables, eight in all. Some are long, like the parable of the sower, some are short, just one verse long, 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”.

All the parables relate to “the kingdom”, or specifically, how to be in it. Parable-telling was beneath the dignity of the religious leaders but with many other scriptures, they show that a heavenly kingdom is coming on earth to replace the kingdoms of men that presently dominate. Which kind of kingdom do we desire?

One parable is of weeds (tares) growing together with the good grain. They are weeds of human thinking and concepts – “humanism”. Only when it is 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. Reading on in verse 49 “… 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”. When his disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable of the sower he spoke of the seed sown among the thorns. Jesus said, “this is the one who hears (reads?) the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word …” (verse 22). How true that is! May that not include us.