Click here for the reading schedule for 2023 to see today’s reading, with links to the text and video of the reading.
To see my past posts on today’s reading or anything else, see the right-hand margin or click here.
This chapter is almost entirely composed of parables by Jesus and the explanations He gives to the disciples for those parables. V11 has Jesus saying that the reason He speaks in parables is that only the disciples have been given to know the mysteries of kingdom of heaven, continuing on to say that “whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath”. In the context, then, it seems that this is saying that if they have been given understanding, they will learn or know even more, but if not, they will remain in darkness and ignorance.
The first parable, given in v3-8, is of someone going out to sow seeds (to scatter them on the ground, in order for them to take root and grow). Jesus explains the parable starting in v18, and says that the four types of ground (the wayside where birds snatch up the seed and eat it before it can sprout; the stony places where the tender plants get scorched by the sun because they don’t have deep enough soil; among thorns where the little plants get choked by weeds; and good ground where plants grow and flourish, and produce fruit) represent four types of people who hear the gospel. The “wayside” people don’t understand or claim to accept the gospel; the “stony ground” people accept the gospel but only superficially, and when trouble arises, they call it quits; the “thorny ground” people hear the word but the cares of the world choke the word so they become unfruitful; and the “good ground” people are true believers and they are the only ones who bear fruit.
The second parable is “the wheat and the tares” — “tares” being a weed that looks very much like wheat, until harvest time, when the wheat produces fruit (wheat kernels) but the tares don’t; the parable ends with the wheat being gathered into the barn, while the tares are gathered and burned. The parable is given in v24-30, and the explanation is given in v37-42. The good seed/wheat are believers while the bad seed/wheat are unbelievers; they look alike until it’s time to produce fruit. This shows us that we shouldn’t judge too early, since some people may seem good while others seem bad, but the reality may be that the “bad” ones will end up repenting and believing, while the “good” ones never produce fruit. This parable is most easily understood in a Calvinistic way, with the “good seed” being those whom God elected before the foundation of the world. Since LDSs are very anti-Calvinistic, I’m not sure how they would understand this.
Next follows twin parables, likening the kingdom of heaven to a tiny mustard seed growing into a tree big enough for birds to build nests in, and to leavening being added to flour. These parables are not interpreted in the chapter, but seem to be teaching that the kingdom of heaven starts off small and insignificant, but will grow to great things and become visible — and this is what has happened, with Christianity starting from a small group of 120 people at Pentecost to millions. It would be more difficult to understand this parable in Mormonism, because of their belief in the Great Apostasy which essentially killed the kingdom of heaven from around the end of the first century until 1830….
After the passages explaining the above parables, Jesus gives some more brief parables of the kingdom of heaven: a merchant who found one pearl of great price and sold everything he had so he could buy it; and a net that caught a lot of fish with the good kept and the bad thrown away (which Jesus explains as being the end of the world [or “aion” in Greek — eon, age], with the angels separating the good from the bad).
After this, Jesus asks the disciples if they understand and they say they do, and Jesus responds, “Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” This makes me think that He’s saying that those who are knowledgeable in the OT and also believe in Jesus, can bring forth new understandings from what is in the OT Scriptures plus Jesus’s teachings.
The chapter ends with Jesus going back to His home town, and the people were amazed, but more or less rejected Him because He was from there, and they knew His family (including His brothers and sisters — Mary didn’t remain a virgin!), so Jesus didn’t do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Much of this chapter has already been discussed in other chapters, so I will only touch lightly on those parts.
First, we are told that Jesus went all over Israel preaching and teaching, along with the Twelve Apostles plus certain women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna are named, plus others) who financially provided for them. Then follows the Parable of the Sower and its interpretation; Jesus’s declaration that His true family are those who hear and obey the word of God; then Jesus calms the storm, and then heals the Wild Gadarene, Jairus’s daughter, and the Woman with the Issue of Blood.
This chapter starts with Jesus referring to a couple of famous incidents that had somewhat recently occurred, in which some people were killed, with Jesus saying that those who died were not worse sinners than others, but that His listeners would likewise perish if they did not repent (only about 40 years later, Jerusalem was destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Jews did indeed die, unless they had repented and believed Jesus and had left Jerusalem prior to its destruction).
Next follows a parable of a man who had a fruitless fig tree, and though the interpretation is not given, based on the broader context (including parts of the OT), it is apparent that this is about Israel who had been given the Law of Moses and revelation from God, but had not produced the fruit they were supposed to. I find it significant that the man had looked for fruit for three years and had found none, since it appears from the gospels that Jesus’s earthly ministry was about 3 years long (at any rate, there are three separate Passovers mentioned).
From a Mormon context, the language of this passage figures into the BOM in the lengthy parable in Jacob 5 — the phrase “cumber the ground”, and the part about “digging and dunging” the tree, to get it to produce fruit (which works for figs, but not for olives).
In v10-17 is the account of Jesus healing a woman on the Sabbath, with the “ruler of the synagogue” getting upset over it, saying the people should come for healing on other days. Jesus shames him by pointing out that he would make sure his animals had water to drink on the Sabbath, so why shouldn’t this woman be healed from her 18-year-long infirmity on the Sabbath?
Next are the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven hidden in the flour, then in answer to the question, “Are there few that be saved?”, Jesus said to “strive to enter in at the strait gate, because many will try but not be able”, and that at some point, it will be too late (“once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door”). I can’t help but notice that the people in this section will say that they had eaten and drunk with Jesus, and that He had taught in their streets, which of course sounds like it’s talking to the people of that day. Obviously, I’m not saying it can’t have application to our day, but I think we should just take it for what it says, as the primary meaning/teaching.
Finally, Pharisees come to Jesus and tell Him that He needs to leave or else Herod will kill Him, but Jesus responds by calling Herod a fox, then says, “I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected”, which I think refers to His resurrection, especially since He continues by saying that He has to go to Jerusalem, “for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem”. Jesus then mourns over the city, saying, “How often would I have gathered thy children together” like a hen gathers her chicks, “and ye would not!” He then says, “your house is left unto you desolate” (which reminds me of last week’s reading of the house that was swept and put in order, then left empty and ultimately was taken back over by seven demons).
Click here for all my posts and here for the MRM posts on the NT Come, Follow Me curriculum for 2023;
click here for the 2023 CFM curriculum at LDS.org, and here is the 2019 NT CFM curriculum.
After a few weeks of having the two versions covering two different chapters, we’re back to having both the 2019 and the 2023 curriculum being on the same chapters. The opening section is identical in both versions, and they generically talk about Jesus teaching by parable, and that we should prepare our hearts like the “good ground” of the Parable of the Sower.
The 2019 version has a paragraph saying, “‘the kingdom of heaven’ refers to Christ’s true Church, which is the kingdom of heaven on earth.” I don’t know why it’s taken out of the present version. I do think that this view wouldn’t be supported by the Bible, since there are verses that speak of the kingdom continuing in perpetuity, while the LDS Church believes Jesus’s church died out with the Great Apostasy less than a century after Jesus said those words, and didn’t come back into existence until 1830.
The next section, titled, “My heart must be prepared to receive the word of God”, which is basically on the Parable of the Sower, and doesn’t seem to be unorthodox (except for citing LDS literature). It’s a little longer in the current version, adding in a little about the parable of the fruitless fig tree.
“Jesus’s parables help me understand the growth and destiny of His Church” says that the parables in Matt. 13 are about the LDS Church, which is completely out of sync with the Bible. It simply makes no sense for Jesus to teach His Apostles this about 1800 years before it occurred. The two versions are nearly identical, except the current version leaves out, “What questions come to mind that can help you apply these parables? For instance, “What am I willing to sacrifice for the Church?”“
The last several sections are very similar to each other in the two versions, and are not unorthodox, talking about 1) the wheat and the tares, 2) the female disciples who traveled with Jesus, and 3) “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening”, which are just various activities that families can do to drive home the lessons in the curriculum.