Session #093 kOS
Scripture Matthew 13:10-17
Summary Matthew 13 is the 3rd of the five major discourses of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew. In this teaching, Henson draws from Matthew 13:10-17 to lay kingdom foundations before getting into the kingdom parables in this chapter. Through the five points of People, Parables, Promise, Problem & Privilege, you will have a broad overview of the Kingdom Operating System (kOS) and the mysteries that have already been revealed.
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:10 – 17)
Kingdom Parables in the Context of Matthew
The book of Matthew is a teaching about the kingdom of God, written around five main discourses that also show how Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament as the people of faith are types of Christ.
- Kingdom Ways: In Matthew 5 – 7, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount as the new Moses preaching the Law
- Kingdom Assignments: In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out His disciples as the new Joshua sending his people on assignment
- Kingdom Parables (in this teaching): In Matthew 13, Jesus delivers wisdom in the form of parables as one “greater than Solomon” (Matthew 12:42)
- Kingdom Community: In Matthew 18, Jesus preaches about the church as the new Elijah gathering the remnant of God’s people into a community
- Kingdom Readiness: In Matthew 23 – 25, Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse as the new Jeremiah, pronouncing judgment against the temple (Pharisees) and warning the people to be ready for the kingdom
There are only three mentions of wisdom in Matthew, and they are all found in this section of kingdom parables. There is a revealing of certain kingdom wisdom being expressed through these parables, which often start with “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Jesus, the Living Word, or Logos, is now explaining the logic of how the kingdom works – the kingdom Operating System or kOS. The wisdom of this kOS runs counter to the wisdom of the world, and although sometimes running things the kingdom way can seem like chaos (“k-OS”), that wisdom was hidden in Christ and now it has been revealed.
Matthew 13:10 – 17 gives us the key to understanding this kingdom wisdom, providing a foundation before getting into the parables in subsequent sessions. Jesus explains five foundational things here: People, Parable, Promise, Problem, Privilege.
People of the Kingdom
Who was the “them” that the disciples are asking Jesus about in Matthew:1310? The gospel describes the audience as such a large multitude that Jesus had to get out on a boat and address them from there. We also need to ask about the audience of the book of Matthew. Jesus is addressing the people of the kingdom who need to understand what the kingdom of God is all about. They were God’s people looking for the kingdom, and yet could not understand nor see the things of the kingdom.
Are believers like that today? We can preach and declare the kingdom of God, but few understand what it actually is. We know how to talk Christian, but we do not know how to live kingdom. We have truncated the gospel of salvation so much, that we do not understand the gospel of the kingdom anymore either. If we do not understand the kingdom and how it operates, how do we know if we are following the king? If we do not heed the warnings, how will we stand before God on the day of judgment? Jesus wanted the people of the kingdom to really know the kingdom, and we need to know it too. The kingdom is available to all, but not all will get it.
Parables Reveal the Mystery of the Kingdom
A parable is a rabbinic device used to illustrate truth and then make a point, coming from the Greek parabolē (“para”, alongside, “bolē”, to throw). A parable throws a story alongside the truth for the purpose of someone to catch it and see the truth. Jesus spoke in parables with the intent of revealing the mysteries of the kingdom, but to some, the truth in the parable will seem concealed. Whether it is revealed or concealed depends on the response of the listener. Daniel 2:28 tells us that “there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets”, or mysteries, at the right time. The mysteries of the kingdom refer to the ways that God’s kingdom operates, and God desires to reveal these mysteries to His people, to His prophets, to His friends. We have to be convinced that these mysteries are not obscured, but we will only receive them through revelation and not just through academic study or religious rites. The mystery requires faith to believe it, and it requires obedience to pursue it. The mysteries of the kingdom are not reserved for the elite, but open to all who desire it, and whether we receive it all depends on our posture and response.
The seven parables in Matthew 13 will reveal the mysteries of the kingdom. The parable of the sower reveals the condition of kingdom hearts, the parable of wheat and tares tells us of the coexistence of deception and final judgment. The parable of the mustard seed and leaven speaks of the smallness and hiddenness of the kingdom, and the parable of hidden treasure and a pearl of great price speaks of the true value of the kingdom of God. Finally, the parable of the dragnet speaks of how all will be brought in and then separated, and you may read the subsequent sessions for a deeper understanding. All these parables reveal a key point that the kingdom is here, it is at hand, but not in its fullness yet. There are coexistence of the kingdom and undesirable elements, and points towards a coming judgment and final consummation of the kingdom. Understanding this will help us to posture ourselves and not be taken by surprise by the things that come.
Promise of Receiving More
For whoever has, to him, more will be given, and he will have abundance. Matthew 13:12
We have a promise that the moment we receive revelation is awakened, and have an understanding of the kingdom, even more, will be given to us. This is what it means that to him who has, more will be given – when we receive an awakening and begin to respond by moving on it and hungering for more, we will receive more as promised. With an awakening, everything changes. We move from a ‘church-dom’ to the kingdom, and our focus becomes sharper as God is training us to see things for what it is supposed to be. We will experience a holy discontent, no longer satisfied just to do church, but understanding that there is so much more and we will experience this overflow that wants to help others get awakened. If we do not experience that overflow, it may be a hint that we are not getting it, and this calls for prayer and to contemplate our response and our need to realign.
Problem of Hearing but Not Understanding
But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Matthew 13:13
However, if we merely hear the message and do not move on to what we have received, what we have is taken away. We are moved, but we did not move, and the message just becomes a big chunk of information but nothing is happening. The issue is not with the King, but the people of the kingdom who are not really interested in running the operating system.
“Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Isaiah 6:9
Isaiah received the hardest assignment ever – to preach to a people who will not listen, who will not understand. This prophecy was true of the people in Isaiah’s time, and even in the New Testament, both Jesus and Paul use this same passage to describe their audiences in Matthew 13:14 and Acts 28:26. Is it happening again today? Are we not perceiving and understanding, and hence missing the things of the kingdom big time?
This problem is not new. We are still having hearts that have grown dull, hearts that have grown fat, hearts that are calloused and refuse to take in any more. We need to awaken the saints because we cannot be watchful if our eyes are closed. Today we are being distracted by technology and so many other things, blinded by a form of religiosity that is too comfortable. We are fighting a battle both outside and within ourselves, and if we do not understand this, our life will be in chaos and yet we will still think we are okay. If we are only living for this world and missing what God says about the kingdom that is to come, we are missing the point. “Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) If we are operating on the world’s OS, relying on riches and prosperity, we fall into the deceitfulness of sin and our hearts will become dull, our eyes will lose focus, and we will miss the truth.
Privilege of Revelation
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13:16 – 17
The mysteries of the kingdom were hidden for a time and season. The prophets declared it, but they could not see the kingdom fully for it was not time yet. The saints of the Old Testament looked forward to the revelation of the King and kingdom but they did not get to experience it. “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to saints” (Colossians 1:26) was revealed when the King Himself stepped into this world. Jesus’ disciples had this privilege to have an audience with the King, and we today have that same privilege. The kingdom is now an open secret, and anyone who wants it can have it. It is available to all, and this is the privilege we have. As a Jewish leader, Paul thought he knew the kingdom, but he did not get it for it was hidden. When Jesus revealed it to him, Paul goes out into the desert and seeks more (Galatians 1:17 – 18). When Paul was awakened, he got aligned, for he tasted and saw the kingdom. He received that promise and got more, and when he came back to Jerusalem after his three years in the desert, he was now able to articulate the kingdom with whatever knowledge he had and now properly understood.
The Mysteries of the Kingdom
Paul preached Christ crucified, which is a mystery “for had [the rulers of the age] known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8b) For which God would die to save you?
The second mystery is that Jews and Gentiles are all part of the kingdom of God, and Paul declares that the Jews are the natural olive branches, and the Gentiles are now being grafted into the kingdom to be a part of God’s covenant, as “fellow heirs of the same body” (Ephesians 3:6).
In Ephesians 5:31 – 32, our marriages reveal the mystery of Christ and the Church coming together as one flesh, and we need to understand the significance of this if we want to keep our marriages strong.
The armour of God serves the purpose of declaring the mystery of the kingdom by living out our righteousness. There is the mystery that death is not the end, but that in the twinkling of an eye all will be transformed, that though we die we live because of the resurrection – because He was resurrected, so too shall we. There is the mystery that Christ lives in us, which is the hope of glory. Paul labours in his work so that we do not miss the mystery, and if we do not understand it, we will not live the kingdom. Why do we worship? It is because God came in the flesh and died for us. In all other religions, they try to climb to God, but in Christianity, God came down to us. That is why we are called to hold on to the mystery of this faith, that now that we see it, let us live right, embracing the privilege that we have.
2 Thessalonians also says there is a mystery of lawlessness, and that is why today when we see sin, we close our eyes to it or try to justify it. We try to conceal the sin, but we need to counter this with our kingdom OS. 1 Corinthians 4:1 tells us that we are now “stewards of the mysteries of God”. What are we doing with it? We need to get out there and share this mystery, telling others who is this glorious King we have.
We need to speak with love and not with pride as we declare this mystery for others’ wellbeing, for if we have all this knowledge but have no love, it means nothing. This is what the kingdom of God is about. It is now, but not yet. We can play church but still miss the kingdom. We are in this season where God is stirring to awaken His people, for God desires to reveal His mysteries. It is an open secret for anyone who wants to go for it. We also need to understand the problem, and if we face some of these problems, to pray and get aligned. We are privileged people, and with that privilege, we have to be stewards of what we have received.
He who has ears, let him hear. Jesus knows that those who have ears may not necessarily hear, and it is only by the Holy Spirit that revelation occurs. He who has ears, let him hear.