The Seed and the Soils

Matthew: Kingdom Authority  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sermon 39 in a series through the Gospel of Matthew

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Psalm of the Day: Psalm 131

Psalm 131 ESV
A Song of Ascents. Of David. O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:9-16

Psalm 119:9–16 ESV
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.


Good morning Church! I was Glad when they said to me let us go and worship in the house of the Lord!
Well after last weeks, sort of interlude to discuss how we read and interpret and read and how we can understand parables. This week we will start diving into a series of particular parables. In particular the ones that make up what we would call the parable discourse in Matthew 13. This is the third large discourse section of Matthew.
And the parable in particular we will be looking at, well I would not say that it is the most famous parable, that's most likely the prodigal son, but this one is surly in the top three most famous parables of Jesus. Partially I think this is one of the ones that Jesus himself explains the meaning of for us. So for us it serves as a wonderful way to be shown practically how to think through parables. So if last week our discussion was a sort of meta level how do we interpret parables, this week is a sort of “practice problem one.” This is the worksheet that your teacher sent home to make sure that you understand the assignment. So again, like last week we have two different passages and again like last week we are going to skip, but as we look at them I am sure that the reasoning why will make sense to us all. We will be reading Matthew 13:1-9 and then we will read Matthew 13:18-23 together this morning.
Matthew 13:1–9 ESV
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:18–23 ESV
“Hear then the parable of the sower: 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. 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. 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. 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.”
These are the words of the Lord for us this morning, Lets Pray
SO here we have the parable of the Sower, we have a little bit of introductory comments and they are worth at least just a passing note to see some cool things. We have the location and timing here as Jesus speaking from a boat to, verse 2 the whole crowd.
If look back to the sermon on the mount, and the way that was introduced, it was a long time ago, but Matthew 5 1 says that seeing the crowds he left up to the mountain top and HIS DISCIPLES CAME TO HIM. Then the next large discourse which was the missions discourse was a message to his disciples, calling them, equipping them and warning them as they go out to the world. But this one, this discourse is different. Jesus is speaking to the crowds. This speaks to at least a little bit what we looked at last week. Now the crowds are gathering, and instead of talking to just his disciples or calling just his disciples he goes out onto a bot not to flee, but in order that he has a bit of a stage if you will. a position of authority that he speaks to the crowd from. The crowds are gathered around him and he begins to teach THEM.
And so it is to these gathered crowds that he teaches in parables. Last week we noted the reason that this is important because parable teach those who will follow and conceal from the world. SO we note first the audience then we dive right into this parable.
Interestingly called the parable of the sower but I would argue that the sower is NOT the most important part of the parable. Ultimately this parable is about two things. It is about the seed and the soil. the parable of the sower is more about the seed that is sown and what it is sown into than t is about the one who does the sowing. If that thought interested you and you want to dive into the part of the sower you will have to come on Thursday and we will talk about that at Grace Group. But the heart of this text, and the heart of this parable is the seed and the Soil - and so it is those two things that we will spend our time this morning looking at.
We will start by looking at the seed. What is the seed that is being sown. And Jesus is very clear that the seed is the gospel


Matthew 13:19 (ESV)
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom
Matthew 13:20 (ESV)
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word
Matthew 13:22 (ESV)
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word,
Matthew 13:23 (ESV)
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.
It is the word of the kingdom. It is the message that Jesus gave to his disciples in chapter 10 in the missions discourse. the word that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It is that God comes to save., It is that Jesus is the Messiah. The seed that is planted is the gospel message.
And that is an important place to start. When we sort of think through he gospel in general. What are we saying? it is a transliteration of a word that literally means GOOD NEWS. and we often will think, and even we might often say: if it is good news why does everyone not believe and accept it?
and the parable here of the sower gives an explanation for this phenomenon. Why does the world not accept this good news. For those of us that do go out and fulfill the great commission (news flash: that should be all of us!). We call people to see and hear and know and understand this good news. and the dying world apart form the good news we wonder: why do they not see and hear and understand and hope in this good news? this parable s Jesus telling tells us why.
Disciples: go on this difficult missionary journey. Preach the gospel to people that will reject it, and reject you. In fact, your family may reject you, those you love and who claim to love you will reject you. You will face persecution. you will be brought before kings and courts on account of this good news. That doesn't sound like that good of news. So the disciples go out and you can understand the questions of WHY? why will they not accept this. Jesus will tell us.
The seed is the gospel, the reason the seed does not grow has NOTHING to do with the seed itself. It has everything to do with the soils.

The Soils:

we need to start with this thought. The problem (or the solution) is the soils! For we might have the temptation to think, and even if we don’t say we think this, our actions betray our true thoughts here: We think the problem is not the soil it is the seed. The gospel, we think: that is the problem. It is not friendly enough. The gospel of Jesus Christ our lord is not quite palatable to the taste of the world. and so you will see people claiming to try and do the work of the Lord, but the news is this: I don’t know what seed they think they are working with, but it is not the gospel. They compromise the Seed because they have not evaluated the soils.
In stead of doing what we will be doing today, which is spending the bulk of our time at the soils, making sure that t is good and right and prepared for the seed, instead they try to change the message. You know, God is JUST love. You know, that lifestyle is not really a sin. You know, who am I to judge, I just want to tell you God loves you. That’s the good news. REALLY?
Let me help us here. the Good news is that for sinners such as me and you there is hope in Jesus Chrsit. The GOOD NEWS is that it does not matter how sinful and vile you are three is hope in the gospel. The GOOD NEWS IS that in spite of your sinfulness God saves. Don’t change the seed. Proclaim the life changing redeeming power of Christ. The sanctifying good news that calls us out of darkness and sin and into righteousness. If is the message of forgiveness and the message of GO AND SIN NO MORE.
But now we look at four different soils that this seed is given to. This is not a difficult passage to grasp. In fact, it is one of the more straightforward of the parables of Jesus, but it is critical. Because we have to see why certain soils are bad. and this knowledge is important for us for two reasons. The first is in our own lives. We can look to ourselves and ask: am I in danger f being this soil. But secondly it gives us the tools to understand how we can help certain soils become good. In all of this I want to note, because we are talking about the seed f the gospel, the hope is that the soil of our heart, which is ultimately what Jesus is talking about here, is to know that God is in the saving and redeeming and changing business. And so we may be broken, our stony awful heart is here, but God can change it and make the soil good! And so knowing what the problem is here in the soils gives us insight to know how to pray for, how to minister to, and how to minister to those broken hearts around us.
So Lets look at these soils, the first is the PATH. And the path is a picture of the SEED LOOSELY HELD

Path: The Seed is LOOSELY HELD

The seed of the gospel just loosely held. It i not understood. It is not grasped onto. This is the person who hears the gospel, and they don’t understand either some portion or all of it. and when you talk to these people their misunderstanding is show clearly. and so they see no need to lay hold of this because their is no thought as to what they have. To paint this picture, in their hand is the life giving hope of the gospel, what is in their hand is full life in the Spirit, what is in their hand is redemption and healing. Full pardon is here in their hand but they do not understand what they have so they don’t grab it. They let it fall from their hand.
And so instead the hope of the gospel is snatched away. the evil one comes in. Sometimes you will preach the gospel to people that just do not understand it. They do not have the categories, the heart or the mind to understand some portion if not all of the Gospel. So you go and say ALL the right things. Ask all the right diagnostic questions: If you were to die tonight do you know what would happen to you? If you explain the Gospel clearly there will be some that just don't get it and so they will not hold on to it.
This seed thus spread to these hard hearts, this hard path-like soil, and so the people will not lay hold of it. Instead the seed is taken away and they begin to grasp at whatever other hope they can try to find. They look for the happiness, peace and comfort that they THINK the world can offer, but it will always leave them wanting. For these people it is like this: In one hand the gospel, in the other self-help, power of positive thinking. On one hand the hope of a savior who loves them and died for their sins if they will just submit to him and in the other living their definition of whatever a good life is. They loosely hold one, grasp the other and their seed will not be fruitful.
May we, to quote from elsewhere in Scripture, may we pray to the God of the harvest, that those that do not understand have their eyes open, that they are given ears to hear so that they lay hold tightly to the hope of the Gospel.
The next soil is the ROCKY SOIL. Matthew 13:20-21
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.
The Rocky soil shows us the dangers of the SEED BEING SHALLOW.

Rocky: The Seed is SHALLOW

It is the picture of a seed that seems to be doing OK, but then you realize that there is nothing going on under the surface. Those things we can’t often tangibly seen those things lying underneath we learn there is nothing going on. It is all window dressing. It is all this sort of superficial external something they can produce in their own strength sort of change.
If you have been in the church long enough, if you have lived this christian life long enough you have seen this person. They come to church they are super excited. This is what I needed, this is awesome. my life has been a mess, you know, I have this problem or that problem, I lost my Job I got this issue, and they come to church and it SEEMS like they are getting their life on track and AS SOON AS life is still a little difficult, AS SOON AS their family starts telling them you sure you want to be a christian, AS SOON AS their friends say, OK that church stuff was cute ad funny but come back to us, we learn that there is no deep root of the gospel.
The solution to this is first and foremost to pray, that should be a given in all of these, Only God can fix this problem. But here is the point: the seed itself has the answer to shallow soil. This is what I mean by this: often the reason that the seed planted in rocky soil is so shallow is because of what we mentioned before, the seed that is offered is INTENTIONALLY shallow. Because to call someone to abandon all their hopes and loves and dreams,. to place that ALL at the foot of the cross. To call for someone to make jesus LORD of their life to call them to rip off the stinking sticker on their car that says “God is my co-pilot” and replace that with a sticker, if you must have it on your car, replace that with a sticker that says: Jesus Chrsit is Lord of my life and I am now a slave to righteousness. Well that call is too hard. so we make a shallow Gospel! and I am here to tell you today that the gospel message is not shallow at all. It will cost you your life. Take up your cross and follow him!
The Gospel is not about FEELING better or even, ultimately about fixing all your problems (although in the gospel you find joy and peace and it fixes the heart of all your problems which is sin!) but the gospel is about giving God glory honor and praise, and then is serving him in gladness, it is making Jesus LORD submitting to his authority for salvation and holiness. It is realizing that it doesn’t matter HOW I FEEL! I say this with love church: I hope that your lives are blessed beyond measure, that you experience joy abundantly that the more difficult portions of life don’t always seem to be dragging you down, I truly hope that BUT as your pastor and as someone who reads scripture and brings it to you, my duty is to tell you tat what God has called us to is more than just feeling good about ourselves and happy fuzzy feelings. He has called us to sacrifice. he has called us to abandon all to follow him. He has called us to love him and in doing so we will find all the joy hope peace and goodness we desire. We will find it in treasures stored in heaven, not anything this world can provide us. WE will realize that this world is not our home, we are strangers and aliens here. DO not let your seed be shallow, for that seed can offer you nothing when the going gets tough (and it will!).
And therefore when we preach the gospel to the world we must not preach a shallow seed! It demands our life
It demands our life And the next soil can help us understand how that works the THORNY soil shows us the dangers of seed that is NOT EXCLUSIVE!

Thorny: The seed is NOT EXCLUSIVE

It demands our life and it demands ALL of our life. Matthew 13:22
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.
The seed will not grow and flourish in any soil that is the seed AND. It will not grow and flourish in any soil wherein we have the Gospel but ALSO… You can still live this way or that… The seed will not grow and flourish and prove fruitful in any soil that seeks to serve two masters. I had this conversation this summer sharing the gospel there is not an option with the gospel of sort of I will have the gospel and my truth and you have the gospel and your truth the Gospel is inherently EXCLUSIVE. It is inherently saying this is the way to haven: Jesus says i am the way the truth and the life and NO ONE comes to the father except through me. there is no other name under heaven or on earth by which man can be saved. It is Jesus christ ALONE. and so we need to preach that message that is, in the eyes of the world bigoted and prideful, because it is not bigoted or prideful it is just the truth of what God has revealed.
And anyone who will not hold to the seed of the gospel EXCLUSIVELY, to the abandonment of all other loves and all other hopes will not be fruitful.
These three soils paint for us the danger of watering down any sort of gospel message. I was reading one of my commentaries, and they commented how we never notice, or we never read in this parable sort of what percentage of which seeds go where. It is NOT that Jesus is saying what we sort of immediately assume that there are four soils so 25% of the seed to each one. and we look to our life and think: When I preach the gospel i will have a 25% rate and that is OK. WE sort of say that to comfort ourselves, but that is not implied in this passage. In fact, if we were to sit back and think about it, only a very foolish farmer would plant a quarter of his crop on a path, a quarter of his crop on rocky soil, a quarter of his crop on thorny soil and only plant 1/4th of his crop in what is considered good soil. Only a foolish farmer would do that. But when we look then not at these soils as a percentage or something like that but instead we see the problems inherent in them, what we begin to see is that watering down the gospel, changing the gospel to meet the message of the world, changing the gospel to meet the taste of the world is in fact the stupidest thing you could do. For to intentionally sow this seed shallowly or in a non exclusive way or in a way that does not stress the importance of the gospel is to purposely sow in fruitless soil.
Don’t be a foolish farmer. WE must present the pure and undefiled seed of the Gospel to the world. It is then up to God to prepare the soil we preach it into. and we pray and we trust and we hope that he himself causes that seed to fall on good soil. For in GOOD SOIL THE SEED IS FRUITFUL!

Good Soil: The Seed is FRUITFUL

The Gospel at work in the lives of believers is the most powerful, life giving, display of God’s work we could ever hope to see!
Most of us are not farmers. all of us, 100% of us are not ancient farmers in the near east - the time and place of Jesus. So we read these numbers and think: OK, those are big numbers. It will produce Matthew 13:8
Matthew 13:8 ESV
Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
and we think: that seems like a good ROI - return on investment. But let me help us see how fruitful it is. Normal seeds, when we talk about a return on a harvest. Each seed that I plant, how much crop do I expect to get. SO I plant this corn seed how many ears of corn do I expect to get from the corn plant that grows. according to records that we have from back then and looking at the world. a good harvest expected would be seven. Every seed of corn you plant gets you seven ears or one barbecue’s worth of corn on the cob. this would be s sevenfold increase. that would be good. tenfold would be like you are sitting in the square with your farmer friends talking about the harvest and the people you tell that you have a ten fold increase and they think you are making moonshine with your harvest because that is nut-so.
So the numbers jesus throws out here, 100, 60, 30 is not like - well some people are 100 Christians, and that is way better than the just squeaking by 30 Christians. no. ALL of this is mindbogglingly insane fruitfulness. it more than makes up for, if we think about it. all of this seed that bears this much fruit makes up for, in some way, all the seed that was lost in the bad soil. this is the hope of the gospel. It changes us. It shapes us. we then live spirit empowered lives, where we walk in the knowledge of the Lord. We produce the fruit of the spirit in our lives. Love joy peace … Our lives are lived in the empowering work of the Spirit. He teaches us how to serve him, how to love him. The life that is impacted by the gospel IS by definition fruitful.
So here is your final task: where is the fruit in your life? The gospel the pure undefiled seed of the gospel has great power. will we cultivate the soils of our hearts, seek to hear and understand. this is verse 23 we hear and understand the word of the Lord. When w hear his life giving words to us, we endeavor to hid it deep in our hearts that we, psalm 119, we hide it in our hearts that we may not sin against God. and it is difficult, so we dive deeper and we ask for hep and we do it together. because the reward for understanding is new and fruitful life. so as i pray almost every Sunday: May our hearts be found as good soil. Lets PRAY!
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