As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
29 January Mt 12:46-50
Jesus has just exposed the shameful hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts. So how should we respond to Jesus? He leaves us in no doubt. Jesus words in vv.48-50 are remarkable. Our relationship to Him is more fundamental even than our biological family, for this is the relationship that lasts to eternity. And what is the mark of belonging to Jesus’ family? It is that we devote ourselves to doing the will of our heavenly Father (v.50). Do you bear the family likeness?
The parable of the sower might better be called the parable of the soils. It describes four different ways in which people respond to God’s word, three of which produce no lasting fruit, and therefore no salvation. Some hearts, like some soil, are too hard for the word to penetrate (v.19). Other are too shallow (vv.20-21) or too overcrowded (v.22) for anything more than a superficial response. But where the gospel is truly received, it produces an abundance of new life (v.23). Which kind of soil are you?
31 January Mt 13:10-17
We often assume Jesus spoke in parables to make His meaning clearer, but the truth is more complex (vv.10-13). His parables act as a filter, revealing the truth to some, but concealing it from others. Those who demand God on their own terms will soon tire of Jesus’ stories (vv.14-15). But those who are genuinely hungry for the true God will press deeper into the meaning of Jesus’ words (vv.16-17, compare v.36): they must have God at any cost. What kind of hearer are you?
1 February Mt 13:24-30, 36-43
Many in Jesus’ day expected that when the Messiah’s kingdom arrived, judgement day would follow immediately. John the Baptist was puzzled when this did not happen (11:1-3). In this parable, Jesus tells us that God withholds final judgement during the gospel age. Why? For the sake of His harvest, so that it will not be lessened but may be fully grown and reaped (vv.28-30). Only then will the final separation take place (vv.40-43). Thank God for giving us time to turn to Him!
2 February Mt 13:31-35
Once again, Jesus corrects false ideas of the kingdom of heaven. Many assumed that when the kingdom came, its full glory would at once be seen. Not so, says Jesus. Its coming is quiet, small and unspectacular, but let no-one underestimate its power. Like the tiniest seed, like yeast in dough, the kingdom will grow and expand. Eventually, the people of many nations will find a home in it (v.32), and no part of the world will be left untouched by God’s redeeming love (v.33).
3 February Mt 13:44-46
Having clarified the kingdom’s gradual growth, Jesus now underlines its supreme worth. V.44 is not intended as moral guidance on how to behave if we find hidden treasure. Jesus’ point is simply that whatever the cost in discipleship, the treasure of the kingdom is worth far more. Likewise in vv.45-46: it is worth parting with everything else in order to take hold of the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom is worth more than everything else combined. Have you realized that? Really?
4 February Mt 13:47-52
The parable of the net focuses on the final separation of the wicked from the righteous at the end of the age (v.49). Jesus’ fierce words in v.50 may offend modern sensibilities, but we dare not downplay them. Our business is not to argue with God’s Son, but to listen to Him (17:5). His love issues honest warnings as well as gracious invitations (compare 11:24, 28). The disciple’s task is to grasp and share all that God has revealed in His word, and not to cherry-pick (vv.51-52).