These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 13:24-43 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points
I. Parable of the weeds (24-30)
II. Parable of the mustard seed (31-35)
III. Parable of the weeds explained (36-43)
I.Parable of the weeds and the explanation (24-30, 36-43)
Who is the man who sowed good seed in this parable?
Who is the enemy?
Who or what do the weeds represent?
Why is the destruction of the weeds delayed?
What are your observations from the explanation of this parable starting in verse 36?
What does this teach us about God?
What does this teach us about people?
What does this teach us about Satan?
Is there a warning here for us? If so, what?
Is it our job to judge/predict who we think is the weed?
What is the difference between the real seed and the weed?
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – Evil workers disguise themselves as angels of light.
Titus 1:16 – Some people profess to know God, but deny him by their works.
2 Timothy 3:5 – Having the appearance of godliness they deny its power.
Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven.
- Satan opposes the work of God. Wherever God and His servants are working Satan and his servants are also working. He not only actively takes away the good seed like we saw in the last parable, but he also actively is planting bad seeds. He is raising up evil crops to infiltrate the church as pretenders in order to damage the good crops. A weed is a destructive force in a garden. It zaps nutrients and chokes out good plants. Weeds in the church are also destructive. How?
- Satan works in secret. Sin loves the dark. If someone is doing something secretly in the dark, it is likely nefarious.
- God is patient and kind and wise. He knows that weeds are present. Allowing them to be present for a time is not confirmation of His acceptance of these people. Neither is a lack of immediate judgement confirmation that He approves of them or their actions. Rather He does not act immediately agains these people because it may damage the true believers. How? First of all if God were to judge all of these people immediately they would have no more opportunity for repentance and turning to Him. In a garden a weed cannot turn into a good plant. But in real life a false believer can potentially still become a real believer. See 2 Peter 3:9. It is also not the job of men to weed out (no pun intended) these weeds. We cannot see their hearts and make a definitive conclusion about the true condition of their hearts. If we were to judge and cast out those whom we viewed as false believers, inevitably some true believers would be caught up in. And that is what the owner of the field says in verse 29, “While youare pulling out the weeds, you may root up the wehat with them.” This would be the result if we were to do this. Therefore God will give this job to angels.
- A final judgment is coming – This passage is a warning to false believers. We need to test our faith. We need to evaluate our motivations. We need to test our own actions. We need to examine our fruit. We need to meditate on the thoughts of our heart. We do not want to be like a goat who thought he was a sheep when they are separated in the last judgment. How can we make sure this doesn’t happen?
- The final judgment will be severe – Verse 42
- Then the righteous will shine like the sun – God hates sin. He will root it out completely and there will be no sin in His final kingdom. At the same time, God wants us to shine like stars even now. Philippians 2:15. Are you rooting sin out of your life? See Daniel 6:4-5 We see a powerful statement about Daniel’s character in verses 4-5. These people tried every method for finding out Daniel’s secrets. Surely they spied on him and followed him. They investigated him. They would have done things like checking his projects and paperwork. Asking questions of his co-workers, examining his house and possessions. Throughout history political adversaries are very good at bringing out the secret sins of their opponents. We have an idiom in English, “everyone has a skeleton in their closet.” It means that everyone is hiding something they don’t want others to know about them. But Daniel was not. Although they tried as hard as they could, they could find nothing even remotely shady in Daniel’s personal or professional life. In fact, the only thing they could find to accuse him about, is that he was too zealous for serving God! Wow! Isn’t that amazing? Daniel had a shining testimony. It wasn’t an act. It wasn’t faked. He wasn’t one person at the office and another person at home. He wasn’t one person at church and another person in front of his friends. He wasn’t one person on Sunday and another person on the rest of the week. Daniel was the real deal. This is who he was. He was a righteous person who lived like it no matter where he was or who was watching.
- I want you to put yourself in Daniel’s place for a moment. Imagine that a team of detectives investigates your life. Their goal is to dig out your secret sins. They want to expose you. They want to prove that you are a different person during the week than on Sundays. So they dig in to every aspect of your lives. What will they find? If they were to check your credit card bills and banking account history, what will they find you spend money on? What will they find out about your truthfulness in paying taxes? If they were to look in your internet browsing history, what would they see there? If they were to check out what kind of movies you watch, music you listen to, or books you read when no one else is around, what would they discover? If they were to observe how you treated your family members and recorded a video of it, would you want to play it here? If they had the ability to go even deeper, and record the thoughts you think when you are all alone, would you feel comfortable to play those in front of all of us? So what would the final report be? Think for a moment about what you would be most afraid of them finding. Brothers and sisters, if you could think of anything, then today take it the Lord. Repent. God can help you be righteous. God can help you have a testimony as pure and blameless as Daniel’s. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Daniel! I would want to pass an investigation like he did. I would want for people who are looking to accuse me to say, “We can find no corruption in Jason. His only problem is he is too zealous for serving God.” (Can add other people’s names here.) A person of integrity and righteousness can live with no fear of being caught.
II. Parable of the mustard seed (31-32)
How is the kingdom of God like a mustard seed?
How big is a mustard seed? How about the mustard “tree” that grows from it? What does this illustrate to us about the kingdom of God?
How does God’s kingdom grow so fast and large? Who causes this growth? What is our role in this?
Background: A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds in the world at just 1/20th of an inch diameter. The “tree” that grows from this seed is technically a bush. This bush can grow to be up to 20 feet (6.5 meters) high. Often times it does tower over the other crops or smaller plants growing around it in fields. The mustard “tree” has a lot of branches and it is a popular place for birds to make their nests even today. Jesus was giving a parable that would have been easily understood by His audience.
- The kingdom of God has a massive potential for exponential growth. For example when the gospel first enters an area no one believes. Only the sower knows the gospel and he uses a few key phrases to spread it. At the beginning the only exposure the people of that area have to the gospel is by hearing a few phrases such as “Jesus loves you” or “He died for you.” Etc. It is hard to imagine how a movement could start from something so small. And yet because of the Holy Spirit’s work someone believes. Then another and another. Until one church is started. And then another and another. And the kingdom of God spreads like wildfire. At the beginning not one person had ever heard of it. Within a short time, everyone heard of it. Acts 19:10.
- Even people outside of the kingdom of God are blessed by it. Because God extends grace to believers, even those around them can taste of or share in some aspects of this grace. See 1 Corinthians 7 about a believing and unbelieving spouse for example. Christians have been influential in stopping the slave trade, stopping abuse of women, helping the sick, taking care of the poor, looking after orphans, instituting one man one woman marriage, and disaster relief, etc.
- Application: What should you do because of this parable?
- Live in awe of the power of God.
- Keep spreading the seed, even little ones, knowing that God can cause them to grow and can cause a movement to start.
- Lesson from the parable of the yeast – The parable of the yeast is basically a restatement of the same principles from the parable of the mustard seed. Yeast is powerful and can completely transform its host. The kingdom of God may be small at the start, but it will increase. It influences from within, not without. Therefore people are changed from the inside out. The change will be comprehensive touching every aspect of a person and the kingdom of God itself will finally expand around the world. It does its work invisibly and slowly, but little by little will accomplish its purpose.
More to come soon