A few months ago I wrote a series of posts about the Kingdom of Heaven parables. Each post dealt with one of the parables. I did not get much interest in it so I did not write a conclusion. Recently I had someone ask me about a conclusion. I told them that I would write one for them. So I will step through the basics of each parable and a conclusion that hopefully sums up the parables and does justice to the Scriptures.
The first parable in the series is probably the easiest. This parable is explained to us by Jesus. We learn these things in this parable – The Son of Man planted good seed (the sons of the kingdom) into the field (the world). His enemy, the Devil, planted bad seed (the sons of the evil one) into the field (the world). The reapers (angels) will separate the tares (bad seed) from the wheat (good seed) and burn up the tares.
So based on this parable we learn that the Kingdom of Heaven(at least in part) is in the currently in the world. It is us, those who follow Christ, as we have been planted here, in the world, by Him.
Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of Heavens presence in the world is small (smaller than the other seeds in the world). But it will grow and eventually it will have great power and authority. I think this points more directly to the end, when all things come to fruition.
A lot of people misinterpret this parable saying that it has to do with sin in the Church and its effect on the Church. Given that Jesus is discussing the Kingdom of Heaven, I seriously doubt this parable has to do with sin. In fact, given the context, I think it has a similar interpretation to the previous parable, the Mustard Seed parable. Just as Leaven effects a all of the flour, eventually the Kingdom of Heaven will effect all of the world.
These two parables are very interesting, very short, and very much related. So I combined them in one post. This parable tells us of what Jesus has to sacrifice. He literally gave up everything to pay for the treasure or the Great Pearl – the Kingdom of Heaven.
This parable is also explained by Jesus. The Good fish are kept, but the Bad fish are thrown out – just as the Tares are burned and the Wheat is kept.
This parable was a little difficult to understand because it adds so many different things to the situation. In fact, I am not very comfortable with my posts conclusion now that I read over it. Now that I reread it I think I should have focused more on what Jesus concludes with, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” I think this parable, in line with the others, is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is/will be made up of people who forgive their brothers (or are generally forgiving).
I feel the correct interpretation of this parable is to see it in light of the Jew/Gentile relationship. The Jews were part of the Kingdom of Heave first, they were promised a certain wage and then later the Gentiles came into the scene. The Jews put a stink when the Gentiles received the same wage even though they worked less time. Some believe this teaches us that there are no levels of reward in Heaven. I think a better interpretation is that all members of the Kingdom of Heaven are equal – Jew or Gentile.
This parable seems to show us that Jesus’ first coming was a “wedding feast.” The Jews had been invited, but they made up excuses not to come. So the King invited all the Gentiles to come. Some of the Gentiles (in fact, most) came unprepared and were thrown out into the outer darkness (for many are invited, but few are chosen). I think it is safe to say that the few that were chosen make up those who are planted in the world. This parable seems to indicate that there is/was a wide/universal invitation but only a select few (or the elect) are chosen.
I recently joked on someone’s blog that this parable teaches us polygamy. Of course I do not think it does, but one has to wonder why so many virgins are waiting for one groomsman. In this parable we find 5 prudent virgins and 5 foolish virgins. The foolish are not prepared for the grooms return and thus miss their opportunity. As I see it there are three possible interpretations for this parable. 1. The Jews were the foolish virgins and were not ready for Jesus when he came. I do not think this is really possible, because the parable is about the return of the bridegrooms. 2. Jesus is speaking of the end of the age, those who think they are saved and those who are actually saved. 3. Jesus is still speaking of the end of the age but the two groups are saved and lost (those who do not think they are mixed with those who think they are saved but aren’t) – slightly different than theory 2. Frankly I think all three could work, but 2 seems most logical to me.
We see that Jesus has given three groups of people (represents by three slaves) different responsibilities. The first two slaves do very well and are called good and faithful. The last slave does poorly and is cast into the outer darkness. The latter slave could probably be compared to the tares, cast into the fire (outer darkness). The first two slaves were obviously the Wheat. I think ultimately this parable is teaching that we are all given something from Jesus and what we do with that is dependent on us. Now that I look back on this parable I really think it is a salvific message. Just like the wedding feast, everyone was invited, but how they responded is what was judged. So here, we see three slaves were given different things, but it was their response (or how they handled the talents) that is judged. I do not think this is teaching any works based salvation, more like a need for personal acceptance of what Christ is offering us.
I had a blast going through these parables. I think I learned a lot of interesting things. As a recap, I think some key points were that the Kingdom of Heaven has been established and it is here in the world (at least, in part). Those of us who are followers of Christ make up part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Everyone has been invited to take part in the Kingdom, but not everyone has accepted that invitation. Also, Jesus paid a high price for His Kingdom.
Thanks everyone, and sorry for the late conclusion!