The Sower, The Seed, The Soil
Matt. 13: 1-23
Introd. I have always been interested in history. I enjoy the history channel and reading books about historical eras. We use different words to describe these era’s – we can say kingdoms, dynasties, or a more modern term is nations. Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans all laid claim to being the dominate civilization during the times preceding Christ. There is a common thread: civilizations flourish and then decline?
History channel – 55 bc – Julius Caesar bridge across the Rhine – 30 feet deep - 400 m long – 9 meters wide built in 10 days 400,000 Germans surrendered later JC declared himself a God – ides of March killed
In more modern times, 17-19th century -England was a dynasty – at its height it was the largest kingdom in history controlling approximately 1/4 of the world at the turn of the 20th century. With due respect, it is no longer the dominant kingdom of the world.
earthly power is fleeting and the shifts of power are inevitable throughout history.
In the midst of all of these kingdoms, there is one kingdom that never ends – it is the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven as described in Matthew. It is a kingdom that supercedes all nationalistic boundaries and economic preferences. It is the real kingdom of peace.
In Matt. 13 Jesus talks about His kingdom. He uses 7 parables to explain it. Each of them has a unique perspective in aiding our understanding of the kingdom.
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly message. Not an actual story but a representative story – it is a way to concretize truth. If we are going to teach people about things they don’t understand, we start with what they do understand.
After telling the parable of the sower, the disciples are perplexed – vs. 10 why are you using parables? Vs. 11 he responds “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven – some translations say mysteries”
Mystery - dark and difficult to understand but in Nt times, mystery meant something unintelligible to the outsider but perfectly clear to those in the know.
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There is another element to Biblical mysteries – they cannot be discerned by the five senses – they are spiritually discerned. Revealed to us by God through his spirit and his word.
Lots of examples: The gospel – the resurrection – the Lords Supper are all Biblical mysteries. Revealing and unfolding of these mysteries is always found in Jesus Christ. law is fulfilled in Him. Col. 2:3 “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Vs. 12 Has will be given more – more truth we act upon, the more truth will be revealed to us.
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quotes this passage from Isaiah that even though the truth was brought before them – they rejected it – rejected him as the Messiah. Vs. 16 says but those who accepted and believed it are blessed. Blessings come not just from hearing the word of God from acting on the word of God.
Now he gives us the interpretation of this parable in verse 18-23.
The first two of these symbols the sower and the seed are easily understood. Vs. 37 tells us the sower is Jesus and vs. 19 tells us the seed is the message of the kingdom or the gospel of Jesus Christ. The picture then is of Jesus sharing the good news of the gospel with all who would listen so they may become a part of his kingdom – his family. The seed will be sown on every type of human soil whether the seed will grow or not.
But the soil represents us – the people – those who hear the gospel. We are the dirt in the story. The responses are quite different.
Some of the seed fell on a hard path. Fields in biblical times were not like our fields today which have been prepared by modern machinery with the crops planted in neat rows. In those days, The fields were in long strips with paths between them so that people could pass through. That was important in a culture where everyone walked.. In either case, the seed finds it impossible to take root. It cannot penetrate the ground which is hard and dry. It is totally inhospitable and unreceptive to the seed.
This type of soil represents the cynical person. They have no use for the Christian life, even though they may be familiar with it. They see it as irrelevant and unworthy of their interest. They may be belligerent. You cannot tell them anything. There is no place for God in their lives. They are proud and arrogant. “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). They are stubborn, selfish and willful. When you have that attitude, the Word of God cannot live. It cannot even get started. The Word never sinks in, and after awhile Satan snatches it away. Even what you have been given is removed.
It is not that they can’t understand but they choose not to understand. Evil one (Satan) hardens their heart. We’re in a spiritual war. Not personal among people Satan is at work to destroy us.
I would venture to say that none of you here today have this type of heart. If you did you wouldn’t be here.
This is the passage of scripture that got through to John Bunyan – he was a cold hearted evil man who thought only of himself. He ridiculed Christians unmercifully. One day he came across these words and said to himself: “even the devil knows that if you believe the word, you will be saved.” I don’t want to serve Satan. He went on to write Pilgrim’s progress and be a great testimony for the faith.
Encounter people like this: we can pray for them, we can love them, we can show them the kindness of God but only the Holy Spirit can penetrate a hard heart.
The second type of soil is shallow, rocky soil. The rock pushed up through the soil everywhere you looked, but in some places there was solid shelf rock covered by a thin layer of soil. In this type of soil the seed would sprout up immediately, but it could not develop an adequate root system so that it died as quickly as it sprang up.
This soil represents people who live controlled by their emotions and not their will. They are a sales person’s dream. buy anything that sounds good stay up at night just to hear the latest infomercial and then buy two.
But as soon as the next things comes along, they buy it and discard the old. Live by their emotions. Spur-of-the-moment exuberance is not what Jesus’ kingdom is about.
Change jobs, churches, spouses, and friends with regularity. Can’t commit and when the emotional rush wears off, they seek the next high. Live a shallow life flitting from one experience to another never satisfied for very long.
Jesus was talking about those who immediately receive the Word of God with enthusiasm, but who do not last. Vs. 20 says They have genuine joy in the beginning. They are excited about what it means to know God and experience a new life. But something happens as it always does. An illness, problem or crisis comes, and they cannot understand why God would allow something like this to happen. They become cynical and offended at God and fall away. You have known people like that — they just go from one interest to another without ever landing solidly anywhere. They see Jesus as a decision and not a lifestyle.
They live by the flesh and the flesh is at work to destroy you.
The third type of soil where the seed fell was full of thorns and weeds, which Jesus described as, “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things.” Do any of you have anything that worries you? These weeds grow up and choke the Word and make it unfruitful. Notice that this is good soil. Things grow easily here. The plants are prospering. Even the Word begins to grow here. But the soil is crowded with other things. Other things have been allowed to grow that should never have been there. And because there was no effort to remove the weeds, the Word had no chance to grow.
It seems crazy, but the farmer was indifferent to the presence of the weeds. He did not see the importance of removing them. But the result was a harvest of thorns and thistles rather than food which would enable him to live. This kind of person is overly tolerant of the weeds in his or her life which makes it impossible for the Word to grow.
This type of soil represents the overcommitted person.
He/she is so wrapped up in the temporary, they have no time for the eternal. They have a good heart, just too busy. This is a particularly strong temptation for us as Americans. We are subject to every kind of option, amusement, and interest there is. I’m not against having fun, enjoying life, doing lots of things but there must be a stable base upon which to build.
World in which we live is at odds with God’s kingdom and therefore the world tries to mold us into it’s values and tries to destroy our spiritual base.
Do you know what the word “amusement” means. It comes from the root word “muse” which means to contemplate, to think over, to meditate and when you add the a to the beginning it means No amusements don’t require thinking – they take our minds off of real life. We all have them; but there is a time to get serious about our lives as well.
But there was also good soil. These are the people who want the Word to grow in their lives. Jesus said that the difference between the good soil and the others was that they “hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” This type of soil represents the fruitful person. Their hearts are not hard — they receive the Word into their lives. They work the soil of their hearts, plow it, weed it, fertilize it and are therefore productive. The soil of their lives produces an abundant harvest.
It is not that these people are more talented, it is simply the result of the effort and time invested by those who received the Word. These are people who desire the Word of God and are eager to grow in him. They are not sidetracked. They understand that there is effort and commitment involved in the Christian life, and they are willing to pay the price of whatever it takes to grow spiritually. They are not playing at the Christian life — it is their life. They want to know God. Their lives are good, rich, deep soil. God expects growth. It is the natural result of good soil and careful preparation.
God is at work to strengthen us.