Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Sower And The Seed

Matthew 13:1-23

The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.   And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” (Matthew 13:1-10)

When Jesus left the Pharisees, a large number of people followed him.  He went out in boaat just offshore where those on shore could easily see and hear him.  He began to teach them using stories, starting with a story about how a sower planted seed and it didn’t all produce the same results.    Some didn’t even sprout, some was not productive and some produced huge crops.  He said that anyone who understood should pay attention to the lesson.  The disciples asked him why he used stories that were so hard to understand.

“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:11-13)

Jesus said that the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven were not for everyone to know.  I Corinthians 2:14-16 tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 
A man I know has grown up around both Navajo and Spanish speaking people but has refused to learn either language.  He frequently gripes about not being able to understand when they talk to someone who doesn’t speak English but it is his own choice.   Over the years he has picked up some words, but often confuses them.  As a result he is sometimes confused by the little he knows of the language.

Those who don’t have the Holy Spirit to guide them are incapable of understanding some things and will only be confused by partial understanding, much like the man.   Those who have the Spirit to enable them are capable of understanding everything and can easily learn what Jesus means.  By putting the information in story form, even those who do not get the complete meaning can guess at the meaning and enjoy the story.  Jesus was polite enough not to leave them out completely.

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:14-15)

The inability to understand by the people there was the result of their choice, just as it is for the man I mentioned.  They didn’t want to understand so didn’t bother to learn enough so they could.  As a result they did not receive all the benefits Christ had to offer.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.” (Matthew 13:16-18)

Because they were equipped to understand, the disciples were learning things the old prophets had not been able to understand.  Now he would explain the parable for their sake. 
“When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” (Matthew 13:19)

The message of salvation meant nothing to people who didn’t understand it and they soon forgot what they had heard.   Like the soil that had not been plowed, they were unprepared to receive the message.

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matthew 13:20-21)

 Some people have a partial understanding and eagerly claim it before they fully understand what is involved, and never come to the point of full salvation.  When problems or conflicts arise they fall away because they were not prepared to make a full commitment to Christ.

“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)

The third group are people who have made the full commitment to Christ and been saved, but later concerns about surviving or building a career consume all their energy and they never produce much of anything.

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)

The good ground are those who have been prepared enough to completely understand and be saved and have learned to focus their energy on what pleases God.  As a result, they produce abundantly, although their output varies widely.

The impact of the gospel is very much affected by how well prepared a person is to receive it.  The less people know the more unlikely they are to receive the message.  To have much impact in a new area requires time preparing the people.


  1. Great post, Donald! Too often I think we get discouraged when we witness and yet there seems to be no fruit. But if we are preparing the soil by providing good information and encouraging the hearer to be receptive, there may be fruit when they hear the Gospel later. I believe that all who witnessed to that person with the right motive will share in the reward, regardless of who "led him to the Lord." Ultimately that is the job of the Holy Spirit, and our job is to plant and water the seed.
    God bless,
    Laurie .

  2. I agree. I suspect a lot of people are too busy trying to get kudos from other people to worry about whether people really get saved.