The Apostle Matthew appears, at least in part, to place the Kingdom Parables in the narrative context in order to explain the “problems” surrounding the kingdom. What do I mean by this?
In Matthew 12:28 we read: “if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” But if the kingdom now exists, why does it not show itself? Remem-ber: the Jews expect a political Messianic kingdom. Why does it appear so small and weak? Why do so many reject it? Indeed, most of Israel is rejecting the king, as we see in Mt 13:57: “And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.’”
The Lord presents this whole set of parables, then, so that his followers might “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” — though to others “it has not been granted” (Mt 13:11), and intentionally so (13:13–16). Consequently, the parables frequently mention the kingdom’s hidden nature, small presence, and wavering condition (Mt 13:9–17, 19–22, 35–28, 31, 33, 44–45). This is not the first century Jewish hope for the Messianic kingdom; nor is it the premillennialist or dispensationalist expectation of an Armageddon-introduced kingdom.
Contrary to such thinking, Matthew carefully records our Lord’s explaining the “mystery” of his kingdom, a mystery that confuses even his followers: “we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21; cp. Mt 13:36). As per the postmillennial system (and much like its sister, amillennialism) the Kingdom Parables sketch the present, spiritual, and developmental nature of the kingdom. I will save the parables of the mustard seed and leaven until last in that they directly support the postmillennial emphasis, whereas the other parables may support either postmillennialism or amillennialism.
I will continue this study in my next blog article.