Jan. 19, 2017

“Hear then the parable of the sower."

Matthew 13:1-23New American Standard Bible (NASB)

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 15 For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they  would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly 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.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”


Isaiah 55:6-11 says:   Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”      In today’s text Jesus also speaks of the word of God being sown into the hearts of men, yet in this parable not all of the word does produce the intended result. In fact three fourths of the seed in the parable Jesus tells does not produce the intended result.  Are we to conclude then that Jesus parable teaches us something contrary to what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah?

In truth it is not the fault of the seed. God’s word is true and unchanging. The purpose of God’s word, from Genesis to Revelation is to reveal God’s plan and His will for man, to redeem, reconcile and restore man to righteousness from sin, relationship with God and the image and likeness of God. The word, the seed is never what is at fault when the result is not as expected. Since God’s word, the seed, does not change, the variable is the soil which receives it. As the Isaiah passage says, God’s ways are higher than our ways. In His sovereign plan He has created people with a free will, an ability to choose how they will respond to the seed of the word.

In my own life there were times when my heart was like the road. The word of God and the witness of creation was around me, but I did not understand and even rejected it, so it was unfruitful in my life. Yet the seed was not bad. My life also had a time when I was like the rocky soil.  I heard the word and received it with joy; yet I had no firm root, and when affliction or persecution arose I fell away. Still the seed was not at fault. My life also had a time when I was like the soil among the thorns, in many ways that condition is an ongoing one with which we all struggle.      The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Living in the world we need to prioritize the kingdom of heaven over the things of the world.    

There is a time when we as believers, Christ’s disciples, His followers are changed from soil to sower. We who have heard and received the good news of the gospel are called to be the seed which fell on good soil. We are called to, hear the word and understand it; to indeed bear fruit and bring forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.     We are called to become sowers of the seed. Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)  What we learn from today’s text and the passage from Isaiah is that we are not responsible for the production of fruit. We are to sow the seed of God’s word, the gospel, wherever we go. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says:  Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.     We can never be certain of the condition of the heart of someone with whom we share God’s word. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 Paul describes this faithful working in God’s kingdom:     I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.        We are to sow, water and nurture the seed in the lives of others. Yet the result is left to God’s higher ways. Just as in my own life none of the seed was bad, nor was it wasted, rather God continued to prepare the soil of my heart to receive, so too, none of the seed of God’s word which we sow will be either bad or wasted. God will accomplish His purpose through His word.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for Your word which is good and true. Thank You for Your faithfulness and the faithfulness of Your servants who sowed into my life. Now I pray Lord that through the power of the Holy Spirit, I too would be faithful to sow and care for Your precious seed, that indeed my life would be represented by the seed which fell in good soil. May Your seed bear fruit, thirty, sixty and one hundred fold.   Amen.