Saturday 08 October 2022

Bible Book:

‘Hear then the parable of the sower.’ (v. 18)

Matthew 13:18-23 Saturday 8 October 2022

Psalm 74:18-23


In this passage, Jesus gives his disciples the meaning of the parable of the sower (13:1-9). We don’t normally see Jesus explaining his parables. It’s particularly unusual to see him doing so in such directly allegorical terms (where each element of the story has a single, definitive symbolic meaning).

This has led students of the New Testament to believe that rather than originating with Jesus, the explanation of the parable is a later addition. The kind of language the explanation section uses suggests that it came later, after Jesus' resurrection. Some of the language is not found elsewhere in the Gospels but does appear in Paul’s letters. One example is the Greek word proskairos – translated as ‘only for a while’ in verse 21. This is a word that isn’t a Greek version of an Aramaic one (the language Jesus and the disciples would have spoken). It’s a Greek word without any obvious equivalent in Aramaic. This suggests to biblical scholars that this explanation-story originated with a Greek-speaking individual or community who collected together all the sayings of Jesus after the resurrection.

This isn’t to dismiss the value of the passage. It offers a profound theological reflection on Jesus’ parable. But it differs from what we normally see from Jesus. Jesus’ parables present the kingdom of God – but not in straightforward ways. They are often surprising, even shocking. Take for example the parables of the hidden treasure, the pearl and the fishing net just a few verses later in chapter 13 (vs 44-50). It’s not clear what these stories about the kingdom mean; they force us to wonder, to think in new ways. Metanoia is the word the New Testament uses for repentance and conversion. It literally means a change of mind. Jesus isn’t just telling us about the kingdom in his parables. He’s forcing us to think differently, in new ways – and so preparing us for the kingdom and to be its citizens.


To Ponder:

  • Which of Jesus’ parables seems obscure or difficult to you? Why?
  • Is there one of Jesus’ sayings or stories which has ‘changed your mind’? Which one and why, and how did it change you?

Previously published in 2019.

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