Part 47 | The Parable of the Sower

Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Parable of the Sower and the reason for parables.

Read Matthew 13:1-23;
In our journey through Matthew, we have learned a lot about the Kingdom of God (i.e. Kingdom of Heaven)
God’s Kingdom is not about a place, but it is about God’s reign and rule… His salvation coming to mankind.
Jesus, as Israel’s Messiah, has come to inaugurate that Kingdom upon the earth… through Jesus, the Kingdom is breaking in… and when He returns, that Kingdom will finally and ultimately be established and consummated.
New Section in Matthew: In Matthew 13, we find the third of five of Jesus’ discourses that Matthew records.
First:Sermon on the Mount.
Second: Jesus’ Commissioning of His 12 disciples
In this Third discourse: Jesus tell several stories that are called “Parables, ” to teach further truths about the Kingdom of Heaven.
Parables: Simple stories used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson
“earthly stories with a heavenly meaning”
Storytelling is a uniquely powerful way to illustrate a point. Parables, illustrations, and allegories make moral or spiritual truths come alive.
Get the attention of listeners
They grip our emotions
Stories make us think in a way that is different than just hearing the facts (Forced to think through the implications).
Example of the Power of Story:
We have talked a lot about the difference between mere belief in Jesus and saving faith.
To only believe, intellectually, in the facts of the Gospel (that Jesus came, died, and rose again), is not enough to be saved.
Saving faith moves beyond the mind and engages the heart. To have saving faith is to believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, AND to receive Him as the Lord and Savior of your life.
Now, if you’ve been here for any time, you’ve heard me espouse that truth, likely many times.
And most of you understand that principles.
But let me now illustrate that same truth through the use of a popular illustration.
Think about an airplane:
You might believe in the fact that an airplane could get your from one airport to another.
You may say it is the best mode of travel for long distances.
You may be fascinated with airplanes.
Perhaps you’ve studied aviation mechanics.
But all of that understanding and marveling, will NOT get you from one taxiway, through the air, to another taxiway.
In order for it to do what it was designed to do, you’ve got to get on the plane. and you’ve got to trust the pilot.
Only then can it get you to your destination.
You can come to church
You can believe, intellectually, that Jesus exists and that he died and was raised on the third day.
You can even marvel at Jesus and all that He has done.
But in order to be saved… to be transferred from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light; to be granted eternal life… you must fully and wholly entrust your life to Jesus. You must get on the plane.
Jesus’ parables—in a rather gripping way, teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven. But that is not all they do.
Why Jesus used parables to teach.
And we will look at the first parable of this section - ‘The Parable of the Sower”
This parable is important, because it serves as a test, to see if our faith in Christ is genuine. To see if we are truly part of God’s Kingdom.

I. Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

Matthew 13:10–11 (ESV)
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
Dual Purpose: Jesus uses parables to Communicate the truth to some
He uses the same parables to Conceal the Truth from Others
Has nothing to do with intellect
To some the truths of the Kingdom “have been given.”
Meaning that spiritual revelation is a gift from God, not a result of IQ.
Why would God give the truths of the Kingdom to some and hide them from others?
A) Calvinist Interpretation:
God has chosen some people to be saved (called the elect)… and for these people, Jesus uses parables to reveal spiritual truths.
Then their are those who God simply hasn’t chosen to be saved… and He doesn’t want them to understand the Gospel and the Kingdom, because He doesn’t want them to have eternal life. So, essentially, God uses parables to further blind their eyes.
Maybe. But I don’ think that is the correct interpretation.
The Bible teaches that it is God’s desire for ALL to be saved (come to repentance)
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
B) Better Interpretation :
God reveals the truths to the Kingdom to those who receive Jesus and He hardens the hearts of those who persistently reject Jesus and the Gospel.
Consider the Context
Jesus has been going around clearly proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God and teaching about Kingdom principles.
Through numerous He has shown that He is Israel’s Messiah.
He has called ALL to repentance, that they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 7:7–8 (ESV)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
In Matthew 11 and 12 we have seen different responses to Jesus & His message:
Some, like the disciples, have gladly received Him. They have sought to understand Jesus and His message.
Others have been amazed by Jesus, but have not committed their lives to Him.
Towards the end of chapter 12 we saw the crowds who were on the fence.
Then there were the religious leaders (the Pharisees) who have persistently rejected Jesus and His message of the Kingdom, even accusing Him of doing the work of the devil.
And now we move to Chapter 13, where Jesus uses parables to reveal truths about the Kingdom to further bless those who have received Him and His message of the Kingdom with tender hearts, and to spiritually blind those who have stubbornly rejected Him with hardened hearts.
Let me lightly unpack those two purposes of parables.
C) Jesus Uses Parables to Communicate the Truth to the Tender-Hearted (Those who love God with all of their hearts and have received the Lord Jesus Christ)
Matthew 13:11–12 (ESV)
And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance...
Mark 4:10–11 (ESV)
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God...
Note: It is not just the 12 Apostles to whom Jesus is revealing the secrets of the Kingdom; He is revealing those truths also to others who desire to follow Him and are seeking the truth.
Jesus uses parables to reveal hidden truths about the Kingdom to all who love Him and are searching for the truths.
Even today, the parables are meant to reveal Kingdom truths to those of us who follow Christ.
12a For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance...
God will continue to reveal His truth to those who have responded favorably to Jesus!
These parables are meant to show us the unmatched worth of Christ and His Kingdom, and to teach us how to walk as people who are in the world but not of the world.
D) Jesus Uses These Same Parables to Conceal the Truth to the Hard-Hearted
Matthew 13:12–15 (ESV)
For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“ ‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Jesus quotes here from Isaiah 16, to compare this generation with the Israelites of Isaiah’s day, who were disobedient to God and had hardened hearts:
Isaiah 6:9–10 (ESV)
And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Parables serve as a form of judgment upon those who reject Jesus and the Kingdom.
God is patient and long-suffering, but there comes a point where he will quit pursing those who reject Him; He will turn them over to their hardened hearts.
It is a dangerous thing to reject (or put off) the call of the Holy Spirit… to reject the Gospel… or—if you like—to stay on the outside of the plane.
Let me quickly unpack the first parable:
II. The Parable of the Sower
(V. 3-9) I won’t read it again.
This parable is taken from the agricultural methodology of Jesus’ day.
Seed was sown in a different way than we or used to.
When it came time for planting, the sower would have a large bag over his shoulder, filled with seed that he was going to plant.
In our country, we plow a field and then plant the seed; that is not how it worked in the first century.
In Jesus’ day, the sower would scatter the seed across the field and then plow it into the ground and then the rain would come, the seed would germinate, and the crops would come forth.
When the sower scatter the field, the seeds were at the mercy of the wind, falling wherever it blew.
To teach about the Kingdom, Jesus uses things that would normally occur during every season of planting. He tells of a sower who went about sowing seed:
Some of the seed was caught by the wind, landing on the hardened, beaten down path… and the birds came by and snatched it up.
Some of the seed fell upon the shallow, rocky soil. It quickly sprouted, but because the root did not go deep it quickly withered, being rendered useless.
Some of the seed blew to parts of the field where there were other things—such as thorns and thistles—were already growing… And though the seeds took root and begin to grow, the the crops were be choked out by thorns and thistles.
And finally, some of the seed fell upon hearty, healthy, nutrient-rich soil, and produced a wonderful crop of 30, 60, or 100 fold.
Jesus then says, “He who has ears, let Him hear.”
He is not just giving a lesson on agriculture, but He is revealing a truth about the Kingdom.
Helpfully, Jesus gives us the interpretation.
A) Jesus is The Sower
(This is implied within the context of this passage, and is confirmed in verse 37, when Jesus gives the interpretation of another parable).
Matthew 13:37 (ESV)
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
The title ‘Son of Man’ is Jesus’ has deep roots in the OT and is Jesus favorite way of referring to Himself.
B) The Seed is the Word of the Kingdom (i.e. the Gospel)
Matthew 13:19 (ESV)
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.
Jesus has been going about proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom… He has been sowing the seed of the Kingdom everywhere He goes.
C) The Soil Represents Different Groups of People Who Hear the Word of the Kingdom.
1). The Hardened Path Represents Who Who Reject Jesus
Matthew 13:19
Matthew 13:19 (ESV)
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 what was sown along the path.
(Those who have blatantly rejected Jesus and His message of the Kingdom, in spite of clear evidence)
What’s interesting, is that it is the religious leaders who have most blatantly and pervasively rejected Jesus. (It is hard to reach self-righteous people)
These people have hearts that are still in the grip of the devil, and He does everything He can to keep them from hearing the truth.
Some of you today who hear these words today; you’ve and your heart is so hardened against the things of God, that it is nearly impenetrable. The devil will do everything in your his power to keep you from seeing the truth. Pray that God would soften your heart!
2) The Rocky Ground Represents the Spiritually Weak
Matthew 13:20–21 (ESV)
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
At then end of Matthew chapter 12, the crowd of people marvel when Jesus’ heals and delivers the blind and mute demoniac.
These people quickly respond favorably to Jesus, but then second guess their decision because of the pressure put on them by religious leaders. They see the persecution that Jesus has to endure, and they don’t want to endure the same.
We all have know people who have run to the altar and proclaim their love for Jesus. They express faith in Christ, but their faith has no root. When trouble and persecution come they check out. They are nowhere to be found.
They want the blessing of Jesus, without the hardships of the Christian life.
As persecution against Christians in this country continues increase, we clearly see those who are who are NOT truly rooted in Christ.
3) The Thorny Ground Represent the Double Minded
Matthew 13:22 (ESV)
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Again, this is someone who seems to respond favorably to the Gospel. But this person is double minded. He loves the things of this world. Money, illicit sex, power, prestige, etc.
Think of the disciples Judas. He is one of the twelve. But his response to Jesus is chocked out by his love for money and the things of this world.
1 John 2:15 (ESV)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
We all know people who fall into this category: They claim to love Jesus. They are faithful for awhile. The Gospel seems to take root. But they still long for the things of this world. They dabble with sin… They make decisions that are best for them, not that are most Christ glorifying. And the Gospel that they claimed to love is chocked out by wordly passions.
Illustration: Lady who told me this parable was about money… that if we sow our financial seed in faith, we can be rich beyond our wildest dreams. (That’s a popular interpretation amongst the prosperity gospel movement).
That interpretation is the antithesis of what Jesus is saying. These “preachers” use a warning against wordly pleasures as a means of to acquire the things of this world.
4) The Good Soil Represents those Who Wholeheartedly Receive the Gospel
Matthew 13:23 (ESV)
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
As the Gospel is proclaimed, many people will be saved.
And we will know those people by the fruit of their lives.
Ultimately, those people will pass the true test of salvation—namely—endurance til’ the end. They will persevere. They will not fall away because of persecution. Their love for Christ will not be chocked out by sin and the world.
And ultimately, those of us who fall into this category will ultimately be vindicated. And we will be with the Lord forever.
Personal Response
What Kind of Soil are you?
Do you have a tender heart for the Lord or is your heart hardened to the point where the message preached today goes in one ear and out the other?
Are you willing and able—by God’s grace—to withstand coming persecution? Are you willing to follow Jesus in the best of times and the worst of times.
Are you wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus, or is your faith growing amongst the thorns and thistles of sin and wordly passions?
Are you bearing spiritual fruit or is your life no different from the lives of those who are in the world.
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