Jesus spoke the Parable of the Dragnet immediately after the parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price for a reason. These three parables are a triplet. One follows naturally upon the other. The Parable of the Treasure shows us Christ’s love for us in His buying the world in order to get us so that we could be called out of the world. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price shows us Christ’s love toward us in redeeming us from our sins. The Parable of the Dragnet shows the separation between those who are redeemed and those who are not. It is a pretty straightforward parable, and, yet, perhaps not quite so simple as some think.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price is the second of the hidden parables—so-called because Jesus tells them only to His disciples. They are found only in Matthew 13. There are certainly direct similarities between this parable and the Parable of the Hidden Treasure that precedes it. But there are also differences. (For more information, see the previous article in this series, “The Parable of the Hidden Treasure“).
The parable I am going to cover in this article starts what I call the hidden parables. They are the last four parables in Matthew 13. These parables are related to each other, not only because they build off each other, but also because Jesus did not give these parables to the multitudes. Jesus spoke them only to His disciples. We learn this several verses before Jesus actually spoke these parables. Matthew 13:36 says, “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” Jesus then explained that parable, and we have covered that in, “The Parable of the Tares of the Field.” But then, staying in the house with His disciples, Jesus gave four more parables that were meant only for them. Let’s look at the first of these.
This parable and the Parable of the Mustard Seed are a pair. They tell much the same story, but with somewhat different emphases. Understanding the Parable of the Leaven is very straightforward. In fact, it is so straightforward that it is amazing that most commentators give a wrong interpretation for it. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus taught that the small, powerful, and simple faith that He planted would grow into a large and corrupt institution. The Parable of the Leaven focuses on the corruption.
The previous parables we have examined in this series centered on the planting of grain. The next two parables we will look at are different. The first one is about a mustard seed that grows into a large tree. The second (which will be discussed in our next installment) is about leaven that leavens the entire three measures of meal. As we study into these parables, we will find that the Bible reveals that their meanings are far different from what most commentators and preachers assume. This means that what you have heard about these parables is probably not what the Bible teaches.
In his children’s book, Frog and Toad Together, Arnold Lobel depicts a toad planting a garden and becoming impatient for the seeds to grow. He is convinced he has to help the seeds along. First, he tells them to start growing. Then, he commands them to grow. Next, he goes out at night and reads them a story. He then sings them songs, reads poetry to them, and then plays them music on his fiddle. Finally, being very tired, he falls asleep. While he is asleep and doing nothing, the seeds sprout from the ground. Unfortunately, the toad doesn’t learn the lesson and concludes that the seeds came up because of all his hard work. I wonder if Arnold Lobel had the Parable of the Seed Growing by Itself in mind when he wrote that story?