As stated last week, a parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus relied heavily on parables; now let’s look at the meaning of two parables from Matthew 13.

The Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9) – Jesus explains this parable in verses 18:23. Let’s look at the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the evil one comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.  “The seed falling on rocky ground – this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But since they have no root, when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it. The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears the word and understands it, and then produces a harvest, yielding 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl (Matt 13:44-45) – God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidently found by a trespasser. The finder is filled with joy – what a find! Then proceeds to sell everything he/she owns to raise money and buy that field. Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, the finder immediately sells everything and buys it.

These two parables teach the same truth.  The kingdom is of such great value that one should be willing to give up all he/she has in order to gain it.  Jesus did not imply that one can purchase the kingdom with money or goods.

John the Baptist Beheaded – A Prophet Martyred: The parallels between the missions of John and Jesus have been building toward the climax of this paragraph. John has introduced Jesus, proclaiming the same message that Jesus would (3:2; 4:17).

The murder of John the Baptist is also in (Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9). “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,” (Matt 14:1), “Herod Antipas,” identified as Herod the tetrarch in the Gospels, was the son of Herod the Great and brother of Archelaus (2:22). Of the Herods, Antipas figures most prominently in the Gospels since he ruled over the regions where both John the Baptist and Jesus conducted most of their ministries, Perea and Galilee. Antipas is remembered primarily for his imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Antipas had married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. Though Antipas respected and feared John, nevertheless he had John beheaded as the result of a plot by Herodias.

John had been arrested because he challenged the legitimacy of Herod’s divorce and incestuous remarriage. “Herodias” was the daughter of Aristobulus, a half-brother of Antipas. She had been married to her uncle, Herod “Philip,” and had borne him a daughter, Salome. However, she divorced her husband and married Antipas, who was already married.

Herodias was a guilty and vindictive woman who wanted John dead, and she devised a plan to get rid of him. At the king’s birthday party, her daughter performed a provocatively enticing dance which so appealed to the drunken Herod that he “promised with an oath” she could have whatever she wanted. She asked for “John the Baptist’s head in a charger” (a table platter).

John the Baptist paid the ultimate price!