Matthew 13:10–17: The Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven
When Jesus begins teaching about the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13, he determines to teach his message through parables. Since Jesus first spoke those parables two thousand years ago, these parables have both strengthened the faith of countless believers, and they also have scandalized countless of the faithless, leading them to stumble and fall away from faith of Christ. Why are parables so polarizing? Furthermore, what is Jesus’ purpose in using them? In this section where Jesus explains his use of parables, he explains that faith is the prerequisite for understanding what he is teaching. Thus, faith reveals what God conceals.
1. Why were Jesus’ disciples puzzled about Jesus’ parables (v. 10)? How have the parables affected you, whether while you were an unbeliever or during the time that you have been a believer? What is the kingdom of heaven? What does Jesus mean when he speaks about the “secrets” of the kingdom of heaven (v. 11)? Who can understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven? On what basis do they come to that understanding?
2. How are the secrets of the kingdom of heaven hidden in plain sight by parables (v. 13)? Why do parables dull the senses of some? Why and how does Jesus use parables for the purpose of dulling the senses of those people? How do the effects of Jesus’ parables fulfill the prophecy spoken by Isaiah (vv. 14–15)? How should we understand the balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in this passage?
3. Why are Jesus’ disciples blessed because they see Jesus and hear what Jesus is saying? How are the disciples blessed beyond the other people living during those days who also saw Jesus and heard him teach (e.g., the crowds or the religious leaders)? What is the difference? How are the disciples blessed beyond Old Testament believers? How are we even further blessed with our Bibles and the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has sent to us?
4. How does this passage relate to what the Apostle Paul writes, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7)? What else does the Apostle Paul say about the ”secrets/mysteries” of God’s wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7)? What role does faith play in revealing what God conceals? What role does the Holy Spirit play in giving us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe? How do you pray for God to reveal more of the wisdom of his kingdom to you?