(Bonus observation, not counted in the 17: don't think for a minute that Jesus is talking about "heaven" as in "Go to Heaven when you die." He's not!)
Verses 3 - 9: Why do so many people presume that an equal amount of seed fell on all four types of soil? Several different commentaries make such statements, but it’s not really indicated in what Jesus says. Wouldn’t it make more sense that a tiny amount fell on the hardened path, and that lots and lots fell into stony or thorn-infested soil? Wouldn't the sower discover which soil was which after things started to grow?
Verse 11: The secrets of the kingdom are given to disciples, not casual listeners. Would God actually conceal things?
Verse 12: Not only would he conceal things, he apparently entrusts treasures to those who have demonstrated that they will take care of them.
Verse 16: Yet he tells the disciples that they are blessed beyond many prophets and righteous people. He is lavish with those who are following hard after him.
Verse 19: “Anyone” can mean me, too.
Verse 23: I remember Derek Prince pointed out that thirty and sixty-fold add up to ninety. He said the hundred-fold dimension is a kind of fruitfulness that exceeds the other two combined. After 30 years I’m still not sure what Derek meant.
Verse 27: Why does everyone require the Master to explain himself? The implication is that it’s his fault. Do I do that? Do I demand that God explain why things go wrong?
Verse 29: Even in the presence of evil, God cares about the harvest.
Verses 31- 33: Jesus used little tiny “bookend parables.” Not everything has to be L-O-N-G. Am I listening?
Verse 36: People who hang around after the crowds leave usually get something extra. What’s my hurry?
Verses 44 & 45: Two more bookends. These are strikingly different. One guy finds the treasure, presumably by accident; the other guy has been purposefully looking for that one pearl. One guy recognizes what anyone can see--treasure; the other guy has trained himself to recognize something rare and precious. Both sell everything they have--everything?
Verse 46: For the sixth time, “the kingdom of heaven is like . . .” Jesus is using images, not allegories. Where did these images come from? Well, for one, what do you think he was doing those first 30 years of this life?
Verse 49: For the second time, “so it will be at the end of the age.” True, the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking into the here-and-now, but it is also about the end of the age. Do I live my life with the end of the age in mind?
Verse 51: Breathtaking! They answered, “Yes.”
Verse 52: Good news--we can be “trained in the Kingdom.” There’s hope for anyone who wants to be his student.
Verse 53: This should be the end of chapter 13. When Langton divided the scripture into chapters in the 13th century he got this one wrong.
Verse 53 (again): When you’re finished, it’s time to leave.