Parables are mysteries that any one may enter on condition that he is really in earnest. Where there is no vision, the people perish(Pro.29:18). A wise man asks the right questions and from right quarters. Power is in his persistence. Pear of great price shall not be found by wayside. So man with vision is one possessed of his need and ready to spare no efforts in order to acquire it.
Power and Wisdom are the eternal qualities of the Godhead and when the Psalmist affirms ‘the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord (Ps.33:5)’ he touches upon those qualities as being in full evidence. While he is so convinced why do not we see the world around us differently? A skeptic would declare that whoever is the Supreme Being has abandoned it; and a humanist shall suggest man can achieve it if he tried hard enough. Such are ideas man can play with and lacking in vision wisdom of man is like the blind leading the blind. Man being full of his own ability to manage his affairs has created a no man’s land. It is what one may call as ways of the world. Man made the earth a global village after inventing airplanes. Progress for him is motion while what he touts as progress has added another arsenal to indiscriminate killing of civilians and cities with aerial bombings, to which progress can claim equally having had an hand. Is it not the prince of the power of the air or the devil who is behind all this?
God sowed the good seed but ‘An enemy hath done this.’ In the parable servants of God ask God, ‘Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?’ Answer of God reveals his long-suffering nature (v.29). God is perfect and it means his Power and Wisdom do not contradict one another. Instead love of God is the hallmark of whatever God does. Here what he says to them: “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”.
There shall come a day of judgement and gathering of souls is indicated by ‘the wheat into my barn.’
In order to understand the parable let us first examine the nature of the sower. God the Son came to the world in order to fulfill the will of the Father. ‘Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but everlasting life (Jn.3:16)’. So Jesus Christ is an apostle sent from heaven. He is also the logos aspect of God (Jn.1:1) He is the Word made flesh. We shall do well to focus the humanity of God as the message. He is the sower. He cast his seeds not meant for a few or for any particular nation but to the whole world. The word of the kingdom was for “who hath ears to hear, let him hear (v.9).”
Principle of Association existing in the Father-Son relationship would work if man sought it as necessary to be included. Seek and you shall find. It is not nature but the heart. So falling by the wayside or thorns are not features of the soil but state of the heart is what we need understand. Consequently how one prepares the ground to receive message is what the parable aims at. Make your calling and election sure. So it is vital that every hearer searches his own heart,- and it is humble and contrite, so he dd not hear it in vain.
Another point useful to remember is this: the world is his field. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (Jn.1:11).
The sower as sent to fulfill his task went his round sowing. The grains did not fall at the same place. Some seed fell on wayside but the fowls came and devoured them. The use of fowl in this parable serves a different purpose than in the parable of the mustard seed. That is why Jesus speaks about understanding what one hears. Wayside is no man’s land but a passage: mind is like a thoroughfare and thoughts flit and float carrying one after the other. On the earth we are all passing through and understanding means therefore a conscious effort to examine what is heard and place it where it rightly belongs. The people of Berea were honorable so they did not hear St Paul simply but checked its veracity in the light of the scriptures(Ac.17:11).
Parables are the means to separate the casual and those who are really seekers of truth. Fear of the Lord is the beginning wisdom. “Blessed is the man that heareth me…whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall find favor of the Lord (Pro.8:14-15).”
Parable of the Mustard Seed Matt.13:31-32; Lk.13:18-19; Mk.4:31-32
This parable clearly sets the significance of the mustard seed. It is like the kingdom of heaven or of God. Jewish background of St Matthew was strongly ingrained in his worldview that he avoided mentioning the name as far as possible. We may treat this kingdom as planted in the world after the Advent of Jesus Christ. A clue to this we have in the same chapter. ‘The field is the world (v.38).’The Son of man is the message. He gave his life in order to make it grow. A child of God is like an herb tender and lowly as he was. His spiritual growth depends not on what the worldly wise would understand. The Psalmist mentions about such a tree as the mustard tree and it is a tree planted by rivers of water (Ps.1:3). Growing in wisdom he shall be a source of comfort to many who come in contact with him. As the epistle to Philemon makes clear his hospitality shall refresh the saints who come to lodge under his roof.
In the Book of Daniel we read of a tree that is of an altogether league.
King Nebuchadnezzar is compared to a mighty tree (Dan.4:21) on whose branches fowls used to take shelter. But his oversized pride and sense of grandeur needed to be cut to size. What is man but mere breath and once it is taken away what does his glory leave in his wake? Nothing. This is what God wanted the king to realize. His subjects shall seek shelter under another king and the strangers while passing through the realm seek not his company.
A couple of days ago it struck me the purpose of the blog A Guide to His Word was defined from my childhood.Before that there lay a fallow period of two decades when I was busy with writing, after a lifetime of reading from secular literature: The Illustrated Omar Khayyam an imitation of Omar Khayyam, two volumes of Movie lists and the Life of Aesop et al.,) After completing Omar Khayyam it seemed not worth my while to pursue these further. After Christmas day 2014 I just quit. I composed a few carols and the whole Psalms in hymns and from then it seemed so natural to resume my Bible blog. It was a revelation and the title Marginalia in turn suggested the scope of my book a concise guide to the Bible. My love of the word was biding time and since April 2015 I have been busy with my Word ministry. It took three months to finish Marginalia in two volumes and the Holy Spirit convincingly led me forth and I never lacked the subject matter for the Spirit on daily basis was at my elbow as it were, and I could write a number of books apart from posting entries in the above mentioned blog. Primarily I took to it as a student of the Bible and for my own spiritual growth.
Where did it all began? I cannot precisely set a date. At a tender age of four or five, while growing up in Calicut, India I remember attending the Sunday School class. The teacher had asked the class in general a question when my turn came he asked if I had any idea about God and I had. Hazily I can recall God as being in heaven and who threw stones on those who were bad. It was some childish nonsense it seemed to me hitherto. While covering the topic of judgment the passage where the Harlot of Babylon was judged (post of 29, June), it struck me that was no coincidence.
I had quite forgotten the Sunday School incident and some forty years later one day my father on return from travel talked about meeting my old teacher who still had not forgotten me. What is an anecdote, but now it becomes clear: I know my direction was set by God even at that tender age. My love for the word was as real as reading the Bible and noting the Sunday sermons and checking the passages from the Bible meant something, notwithstanding I was sowing wild oats all about. One day it all vanished without a trace while my faith became more clear and instructions of the indwelling Spirit became more topical. ‘Out of the mouth of babes…” Blessed be my Lord Savior who hitherto upheld me. Amen
“Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain….(Dan.2:45)”
In an earlier post we had discussed over the world governments being set up on very weak foundation. Iron and clay do not mix, a common complaint that stymies every peace effort on the earth. Only ‘the peace that passeth understanding’ can break this human predicament. It is peace of God and it is as St Paul asserts,”shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phili.4:7).”
Daniel interprets the dream of the king where the stone cut without hands connects with the mountain. It is a clear allusion to the Father-Son relationship and the stone shall be the basis for the kingdom and it shall be an everlasting kingdom. Shall we apply the law of gradation,- basis of which an emblem or the Son, so events may be grouped together on God’s Time? There are two events where upper millstone is used. It serves as a symbol. Judgement of the Harlot of Babylon (Rev.18:21) by means of an upper millstone connects with the death of Abimelech in Judges 9:53
Historically the might of Babylon is no more. What is in a name? In the Book of Revelation we read of places as the Spirit would use it, “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (Rev.11:8).” Name of a place shall be found in the Bible in order to instruct us for our spiritual edification. So New York, Babylon, Jerusalem or Sodom are cities and interchangeable. Let us quickly run through the downfall of Babylon. The city provided for the riches of mercantile class across the earth. It is compared to a harlot whose judgment overtook her before the truth would sink in. Fire and flood shall overwhelm her. The angel took up stone ‘like a millstone, and cast into the sea.’ This symbol of millstone is to be spiritually understood. Jesus Christ is qualified as bread from heaven (John 6:33). This bread was ground in the heavenly mill and when Jesus says, “…But my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven (vv32-33).”This is what the atonement of the Son achieved. This life, abundant life as the verse says,’ giveth life uno the world.’ In judging Babylon God is avenged. “For strong is the Lord who judgeth her (Rev.18:8).” The cities of the earth where the gospel was rejected shall come under the label of Babylon; Jesus began his ministry and sent his disciples two by two. The same are similarly reworked into the two witnesses from heaven whose death shall be an occasion of joy to the people (Rev.11:10).
We live in the midst of great transition from believing Truth in absolute sense and truth, which is contextual. What but rank wickedness to gloss over the malfeasance of highest of the realm by his team of spin doctors? Do they not remind us of the beast in the end times and his voice? “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet…with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast (Rev.19:20,19)
Law of gradation presents Heroes of faith. Such clubbing of persons, events takes us across God’s Time. This is what the Spirit means by ‘instruction in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16)’. Faith shall connect us with God as Abel in antediluvian period. Though our corruptible bodies dissolve God shall be for us the Lord of the living. By the same token apostasy of man shall not go unpunished. Those who heaped riches upon themselves shall be deemed contemptible in His sight. They belong to the list among whose names find names of Balaam, Gehazi, Simon and so on. It is of no concern for us who are led forth among green pastures and are fed from the living waters. Let the Good Shepherd guide us evermore, Amen.