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23. Parables: the Parable of the Sower.

Jesus Christ, while in Capernaum, went to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Many people gathered around Him. He got into a small boat and sat there. The people stood on the beach, and m the boat, He began to teach them in parables.

Jesus Christ said, "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and were trodden under foot, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil; immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but soon they were scorched, and since they had no roots they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good rich soil, and grew and yielded abundant fruit."

Then, when the disciples asked Jesus Christ, "What does this parable mean?" He explained to them:

Seed is the Word of God (the Gospels).

Sower is the one who spreads the Word of God.

Soil is the heart of man.

The ground along the path where the seed fell indicates careless and profligate people, in the hearts of whom the Word of God does not have access. The Devil without trouble steals it and carries it away from them, so that they do not believe and are not saved.

Rocky ground signifies people who are inconstant and fainthearted. They willingly hear the Word of God, but it does not take hold in their souls, and they fall away from the faith at the first temptation, grief, or persecution over the Word of God. Thorns signify people for whom everyday cares, wealth, and various vices stifle in the heart the Word of God.

Good rich soil signifies people with good hearts. They pay attention to the Word of God, treasure it in their hearts, and patiently try to fulfil everything that it teaches. Their fruit is good deeds, for which they are awarded the Kingdom of Heaven.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed.

Jesus Christ taught that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, began and was founded on that which He established on earth, that is, the Church of Christ, which began small and then spread over all the earth. He said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This seed is indeed the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is the greatest among plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches." The Saviour spoke many other parables, teaching the people.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19.

The Parable of the Leaven.

Explaining the teaching of the Kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ said, "With what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."

This parable is short and simple, but a deep double meaning is contained in it: the general historical process of the salvation of people and the individual process of the salvation of each person.

The historical process: after the world-wide flood, three races of people descended from the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth: the Semites, the Hamites, and Japhetites. They were the three measures of meal in which Christ puts His heavenly leaven — the Holy Spirit, Who is put in all races of mankind without limitation or exclusion.

As the woman with the help of the leaven turned the meal from its usual state into bread, thus, Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit turns usual, natural people into sons of God, to the immortal life of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The process of the leavening began on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, continues to our day, and will continue to the end of the age — until all are leavened.

The individual process: the Saviour through baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity gives heavenly leaven — gifts of the Holy Spirit, heavenly strength, to the soul of each person, that is, to the main powers of a person’s soul: intelligence, feeling (heart), and will (three measures). All three powers of the soul of a person grow harmoniously and rise toward Heaven being filled with the light of intelligence, the warmth of love, and the glory of good works and turning individuals into sons and daughters of God, heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Lord used a woman in His example because a woman as a wife and mother lovingly prepares the homemade bread for the children and the household, whereas a male-baker prepares bread for sale distributing the income for gain. (According to Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.).

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew: 13:33; Luke 13:20-21.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

Jesus Christ taught that in His Kingdom on earth, in the Church of Christ, until the last day of the world there would be sinners.

The Lord said, "The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.

"So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’

"He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’

"The servants said to him, ‘Then, do you want us to go and gather them?’

"But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time, I will tell the reapers to gather the weeds first and to bind them in bundles to be burned but gather the wheat into my barn.’ "

The disciples, when they were left alone with the Lord, asked Him to explain this parable.

Jesus Christ said:

"The Sower of the good seed is the Son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The field is the world. The good seed means the sons of the Kingdom, good, devout people who accept the teachings of Christ. The weeds are the sons of the Evil One, wicked, evil people. The enemy who sowed the weeds is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels.

"Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers and throw them into the furnace of fire; there, men will weep and gnash their teeth.

"Then, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father," in the kingdom of eternal blessed life.

How often, at the sight of the disgraceful behaviour of immoral evil people, we ask, "Lord, why do You not punish these evil people now? Why do You allow them to use all the good things of the world? Why do they burden and oppress the good?"

To all these questions, this parable gives the answer: let them grow together one with the other until the harvest, until the day of the Last Judgement. Such is the will of God, because the Lord in giving man His image and likeness gives free will. Evil crops up in the world because of the work of the Devil, who constantly and cunningly sows evil in the world, who spreads among people unbelief and every kind of lawlessness. To expose all, sin might harm tender souls if they saw it.

In the free choice of good and the rejection of evil, man exalts God, glorifies God, and improves himself; and by enduring suffering from evil, he receives from God the highest reward in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In this manner, God without any coercion gives people of good will the possibility of receiving eternal, blessed life in the Kingdom of Heaven, and people of evil intent — eternal torment in Hell.

Note: See the Gospel of Matthew 13:24-30,36-43.

About the Coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus Christ, "When will the Kingdom of God come?"

The Saviour answered, "The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."

This means that the Kingdom of God does not have boundaries, it is everywhere unlimited. Therefore, to look for the Kingdom of God, we do not have to go somewhere far away, overseas, to distant lands. For this it is not required of us to climb up to the clouds or descend into the depths. One must seek the Kingdom of Heaven in the place where we live, that is, where we are placed by the providence of God, because the Kingdom of God develops and ripens within man, in the heart of a person. The Kingdom of God is "righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit" when the conscience and will of a man enter into complete harmony, joined into one with the intelligence and the will of God. Then, everything contrary to the will of God becomes loathsome to a man. The visible realization of the Kingdom of God on earth is the Holy Church of Christ. In it, everything is arrayed according to the Law of God.

Note: See the Gospel of Luke 17:20-21.

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