Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Blessed With More Instruction
THE disciples have just received an explanation of the illustration of the sower. But now they want to learn more. “Explain to us,” they request, “the illustration of the weeds in the field.”
How different the attitude of the disciples from that of the rest of the crowd on the beach! Those people lack an earnest desire to learn the meaning behind the illustrations, being satisfied with merely the outline of things set out in them. Contrasting that seaside audience with his inquisitive disciples, Jesus says:
“With the measure that you are measuring out, you will have it measured out to you, yes, you will have more added to you.” The disciples are measuring out to Jesus earnest interest and attention and so are blessed with receiving more instruction. Thus, in answer to his disciples’ inquiry, Jesus explains:
“The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels.”
After identifying each feature of his illustration, Jesus describes the outcome. At the conclusion of the system of things, he says, “the reapers,” or angels, will separate weedlike imitation Christians from the true “sons of the kingdom.” “The sons of the wicked one” will then be marked for destruction, but the sons of God’s Kingdom, “the righteous ones,” will shine brilliantly in the Kingdom of their Father.
Jesus next blesses his inquisitive disciples with three more illustrations. First, he says: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field.”
“Again,” he continues, “the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.”
Jesus himself is like the man who discovers a hidden treasure and like the merchant who finds a pearl of high value. He sold everything, as it were, giving up an honored position in heaven to become a lowly human. Then, as a man on earth, he suffers reproach and hateful persecution, proving worthy of becoming the Ruler of God’s Kingdom.
The challenge is placed before Jesus’ followers also to sell everything in order to obtain the grand reward of being either a coruler with Christ or an earthly Kingdom subject. Will we consider having a share in God’s Kingdom as something more valuable than anything else in life, as a priceless treasure or a precious pearl?
Finally, Jesus likens “the kingdom of the heavens” to a dragnet that gathers up fish of every kind. When the fish are separated, the unsuitable are thrown away but the good are kept. So, Jesus says, it will be in the conclusion of the system of things; the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous, reserving the wicked for annihilation.
Jesus himself begins this fishing project, calling his first disciples to be “fishers of men.” Under angelic surveillance, the fishing work continues down through the centuries. At last the time comes to haul in the “dragnet,” which symbolizes the organizations on earth professing to be Christian.
Although the unsuitable fish are cast into destruction, thankfully we can be counted among the ‘good fish’ that are kept. By exhibiting the same earnest desire as Jesus’ disciples did for more knowledge and understanding, we will be blessed not only with more instruction but with God’s blessing of eternal life. Matthew 13:36-52; 4:19; Mark 4:24, 25.
◆ How do the disciples differ from the crowds on the beach?
◆ Who or what is represented by the sower, the field, the fine seed, the enemy, the harvest, and the reapers?
◆ What three additional illustrations did Jesus provide, and what can we learn from them?