Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the Bible the number seven is composed of six plus one, three plus four, or four plus three. The seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are made up of three plus four. But the seven parables in Matthew 13 are made up of four plus three. The first four parables were given in the boat in the open air. These are the parables of the sower, the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven. The last three were given privately to the disciples in the house. The previous three parables concerning the outward appearance of the kingdom were spoken publicly by the heavenly King in the boat to the crowds (vv. 2, 34), whereas the three parables following these were given privately in the house to the disciples (v. 36). This indicates that the things covered by these three parables are more hidden.
In each of the first four parables there was something related to eating. By this we see that the first four parables cover the matter of food. God’s intention is to have a people on earth to be the constituents of His kingdom, and these people must be like food that is good to satisfy both God and man. But the enemy came in to plant tares among the wheat to frustrate the growth of the wheat and to damage it. Nevertheless some wheat has grown up and multiplied. Thus, in the fourth parable we have the meal. The fine flour composing the meal comes from wheat. The reason the Lord Jesus sowed wheat seeds was that God desires to have fine flour. Although Satan, God’s enemy, sowed tares among the wheat to frustrate its growth, God cannot be defeated. Some wheat grew to produce grain, and the grain was ground into fine flour to make a loaf. While this was taking place, Satan caused the mustard herb, intended to be a source of food, to grow abnormally into a big tree and thereby to lose its function of producing food. Instead, it became an evil lodging place. This is a picture of Christendom today. In the various Christian organizations we see big buildings, offices, and complex hierarchies. We see the branches of the big tree, but nothing of the fine flour or the mustard herb. According to the fourth parable, Satan then took the further step of adding leaven to the fine flour. Here we see Satan’s subtlety. Firstly, he sowed tares among the wheat to frustrate the growth of the wheat; secondly, he caused the mustard herb to grow abnormally and to lose its function; thirdly, seeing that some wheat was produced to make fine flour for a loaf to satisfy God and man, Satan added leaven to the meal.
The first four parables are all related to the farm. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 Paul says, “Ye are God’s farm, ye are God’s building” (Gk.). In this chapter we see that God’s farm eventually produces gold, silver, and precious stones. How mysterious it is that the produce of God’s farm becomes gold, silver, and precious stones, the materials for God’s building. God’s farm produces the things of life, and these things of life become the materials for God’s building. Thus, God’s farm is for God’s building.
In the first four parables in Matthew we have the life growing, and in the next parable we have the treasure hidden in the field. The treasure must be made up of gold, silver, and precious stones, probably mainly precious stones. In the following parable we find the pearl. The New Jerusalem is built with gold, precious stones, and pearl. Gold is the material of the city proper, and precious stones and pearl are the two other building materials for the city of God. In the first four parables the Lord revealed the life that grows Christ into the kingdom. In the next two parables He revealed the matter of transformation for building. This brings us back to the basic thought of the Bible—life and building. The parables in Matthew 13 reveal the matters of life and building. Life is Christ Himself as the seed sown into our humanity. This life grows within us, growing Christ into the kingdom. The growing of this life eventually produces precious stones and pearls.
After spending much time on Matthew 13, I found that its basic thought is the same as that of 1 Corinthians 3. In both chapters we have God’s farm and God’s building. The first four parables are related to God’s farm for growing Christ into the kingdom, and the following two parables are related to transformation for producing precious materials for God’s building. If we are not impressed with this matter, we shall not be able to understand the fifth and sixth parables.
We have consulted a number of books on Matthew 13, but none of them touch the depth of this chapter. None of the interpretations given in those books satisfied us. Even D. M. Panton says that the treasure hidden in the field is the kingdom and that the pearl is righteousness, for in 6:33 we are told to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The teaching prevalent among the Brethren did not get into the depth of this chapter. Although D. M. Panton saw that the treasure hid in the field referred to the kingdom, he was not clear about the pearl. In this message we need to consider these two parables in a definite way.
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