Jesus taught the listening audience with parables which are like illustrations that reveal the heart and spiritual truths. Wiersbe wrote: A parable begins innocently as a picture that arrests our attention and arouses our interest. But as we study the picture, it becomes a mirror in which we suddenly see ourselves. If we continue to look by faith, the mirror becomes a window through which we see God and His truth. How we respond to that truth will determine what further truth God will teach us.” As Jesus presented the parable of the soils many heads were nodding yet later the disciples asked for clarification. Jesus asked them: “Don’t you understand this parable? Then how will you understand any parable?” And perhaps he is asking you and I the same questions.
“Listen!” This parable is about the three enemies: the “god” of hardness, the “god” of shallowness, the “god” of the crowded life. As the sower cast his seed some fell along the hardened path. This is a reflection of a hardened heart much like the religious leaders who watched with purpose to accuse and assassinate him. Their “god” is intellectualism and man-made rules even though Jesus provided the heavenly evidence of a withered hand restored. Some seed fell among the rocky ground. This is the “god” of the shallow heart that lacks hunger or thirst for the deep meanings of God. The Word does not penetrate their will or their way of life. These are unable to discern truth from error and thus are led away into false theology. The seed that fell among the thorns reflects the heart that is crowded by calendars and the clock—no time to read, study or meditate. These are satisfied with a “ticket punch” and not the deep truths that God offers those who seek Him. In sharp contrast is the seed that fell on the good soil/heart which reflects the hungering and thirsting heart that searches the Word to see if what is said is true. These are the Bereans that Paul commended. These are the ones whose seed sprouts, then a stalk appears, then the head and finally the fruit ready for harvest.
Jesus said: “Whoever has ears to hear had better listen!” In other words: Listen with your ears but hear with your heart.
The Parade is over and Jesus is in the Temple once again and is teaching, as he has so often, about the kingdom of heaven through parables. We remember that Jesus told the disciples that he would be using that approach: “I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand” thus fulfilling Isaiah’s 6:9-10 prophecy. Although this was Jesus’ method the Pharisees and chief priests knew not only was he directing his teaching at them but also they understood the implications of his teaching. That is why they wanted to arrest him as we found out in chapter 21.
Jesus spoke to them again in lest any should say they never understood. He has just told them that they were rejecting Him as the Chosen One and now He will emphasize it in greater detail through an illustration that they could all relate to which is a method that we must learn to utilize as well. Start with a common every day thought and use it as a spring board to the truth you want the audience to grasp. In this parable the listeners would have grasped the importance of the wedding banquet in their first century culture, but more importantly they would have been astounded that the king would invite any to his son’s banquet! This was thus not just any banquet–it was for his son! In that culture one received an invite and then when the banquet was ready the ‘king’ would send for them. Try to picture you receiving an invite to a head of state’s home for dinner. You receive it in advance and when the time is ready your limo arrives to pick you up. But, notice the responses of the invitees. They would NOT come! They were indifferent and turned their back even when he sent a second gracious summons! No wonder the king was furious! He had spared no expense nor the preparation.
What are we to learn? The king is God and He has a banquet prepared for Jesus, His Beloved Son. He has spared no expense; he sent his only son so that no one would perish but have eternal life. All have been invited to come and celebrate! Yet there were some then and some today who say no or some who are just too busy. In Matt 8 we read that many said they would go but they had many excuses as to why “not now.” When he sent out the disciples he gave them orders to shake the dust off their shoes if the message they brought was ignored or rejected. We meet these same people today in the marketplace; in our workplace and even in our families. They are more concerned about their now than their eternal destiny. Felix said the same thing to Paul in Acts 24.
What about the intruder in the banquet? Who is he? And why is he even there? He is there because the invitation was to both good and bad but even with that there are rules of decorum to be followed and he chose to not do that. How often have we heard that the “I am the Way, The Truth, The Life” just doesn’t cut it for me? I will come to Jesus in my way. Note the consequence! Bound and sent packing to outer darkness. There will be some that will face this in the day of judgment.
Beloved, God has a plan and it includes you. He has issued His invitation and He has sent this message to you. What will you do with it? Will you come and celebrate or are you just too busy to do it now? Remember the intruder when this crosses your mind.