Verse: Matthew 13:3-23
“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.”
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“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.””
The beginning of this parable talks about something that at face value is pretty easy to understand. If a farmer just throws seeds randomly without preparing the field, he is just feeding the birds. If he throws the seeds in a field full of rocks, the seeds will not develop strong enough roots to survive the elements. However is the seeds are planted in a field that has been prepared— the seeds will be fruitful and result in a bountiful harvest. That makes sense. However the purpose of this parable isn’t to help us grow things around our house (Though it is solid advice for getting things to grow).
This parable, like all of them, has a much deeper meaning that we are going to dive into. Here Jesus is saying that there is an obvious distinction between believers and non-believers. Non-believers miss the deeper meaning of the parables because of the absence of a personal relationship with Jesus. Without that relationship, individuals lack the God-given wisdom to interpret the parables.
The verses (Matthew 13:11-17) go on to discuss fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8-10). “You will hear, but not understand. You will see, but not perceive”… This further highlights how believers will read the parables and will develop a deeper understanding in addition to fostering their relationship with Jesus. However, non-believers can read a parable and only take it for its literal meaning— which often can lead to further confusion. In verse 15, Jesus acknowledges both God’s sovereignty and also human responsibility.
Jesus continues in verses 20-23 explaining the original parable. First he acknowledges that those seeds thrown in the path easily wander when they encounter the word and do not understand it. Then those seeds in the rocky ground represents Christians who seem to start out strong, but because their roots are shallow, when they encounter storms they are swept away. Then those seeds among thorns represent christians who are trying to embrace the materialistic world and also the teachings of Jesus. These two things are not compatible and result in a lack of fruit. Lastly you have the individual who is planted in the good soil. This is the person who develops strong roots to weather those trials and tribulations. They study the word and understand the underlying message. They bear fruit, leading to a bountiful harvest.
Jesus makes it clear that there are many situations that occur, but only one results in a fruitful harvest. So ultimately there are two paths:
Those that hold fast and bear fruit.
Those that simply do not.
Jesus makes it clear that both God’s sovereignty is at play in addition to human responsibility. We need to ensure we are in a solid community that fosters positive relationships with Jesus. That we are challenged regularly to be in the word, in prayer, and involved with a community of believers. This allows accountability to develop to ensure we are growing those strong roots to weather those storms that may come over the horizon.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the grace that you’ve shown through your son, Jesus. Please help us to focus on our spiritual disciplines this week. Challenge us to reach out to our community when we don’t totally understand something. Please help us to be transparent with each other so that we all can grow together. Please help us all to glorify you in all that we do. In Your Heavenly name I pray,