THE PARABLES IN MATTHEW 13
I wish to remind you of all the parables in Matthew 13. The first parable is the parable of the sower going out to sow the seed (vv. 3-8, 19-23). This sower is Christ Himself, who comes to sow His life as the seed into us.
The second parable is the parable of the tares, the false wheat (vv. 24-30). The Lord came to sow the good seed with the intention of getting the real wheat. But the enemy of the Lord came and sowed tares in the field; these tares grew up as the false wheat. This means that the Lord comes to give us His life with the intention of regenerating us as the true believers, the true Christians. But the enemy Satan comes to bring into existence on the earth a great number of false believers, false Christians. So not too long after the day of Pentecost, we see the wheat as well as the tares growing together in the field, that is, the true believers as well as the false believers existing together on this earth.
The third parable is the parable of the mustard seed (vv. 31-32). The mustard is an annual herb. It is small, lowly, and temporary, but good for food. However, its nature was changed so that it became a big tree. This indicates that the church must be an herb on this earth, small, lowly, temporary, full of life, and good for food. However, the nature of the church has changed. The church has become a big tree—Christianity. Look at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Cathedral. What a tremendously big tree this is! When an herb becomes a tree, it is no longer good for food. It is good for the birds to lodge in. The birds in the first parable signify the evil one, Satan (vv. 4, 19), and the birds here refer to the evil persons, the sons of the devil, the false Christians, who lodge in today’s Christianity as the biggest organization on this earth.
Where are you today? Are you in the little herb or in the worldwide, great tree? In the eyes of the world, as the church we should be nothing. We should be just like an herb, so small, lowly, and temporary on this earth, but really good for food. With the big tree, there is the vainglory of this age. If you want to do something for the church, you have to do it in a lowly way, in a small way. Do not try to do it in a big, tremendous way. Always keep in mind that the church is a small herb.
Then in the fourth parable we see a woman taking leaven and adding it into the meal, the flour (vv. 33-35). This woman, who is the same as the woman Jezebel mentioned in Revelation 2:20 and the great harlot mentioned in Revelation 17:1-5, signifies the Roman Catholic Church. This evil woman added leaven, signifying evil things (1 Cor. 5:6, 8) and evil teachings (Matt. 16:6, 11-12), into the fine flour, signifying all the teachings concerning Christ and, in particular, the truths concerning Christ as food. Leavened bread is easy to eat. The Roman Catholic Church put a lot of evil things into the truths concerning Christ to make them easy for people to take.
Do you know that Christmas is a kind of leaven? The birth of Christ is the meal, but Christmas is the leaven. In the Bible there is the birth of Christ but not Christmas. Christ was not born on December 25; He was probably born in the spring, not in winter. In ancient times people worshipped the sun as their god and celebrated December 25 as the birthday of the sun god. After the Roman Empire accepted Christianity, the people were unwilling to drop this celebration on December 25. So the Roman Catholic Church simply adopted this practice and told people that since Christ is the sun, December 25 is the birthday of Christ. Thus, they began the celebration of the so-called Christmas. The Catholic priests admit that Christmas is something false, but they also claim that it helps people to believe in the birth of Christ. This is an example of the "leaven" added into the truths concerning Christ.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)