Matthew 13 (also in Mark 4 and Luke 8)
The Parable of the Sower
1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
[Jesus was teaching the people in parables, using familiar subjects to teach spiritual truth. The Greek root for parable is para-bolle, to cast beside, to create a similitude or a parallel comparison. Here the familiar element is farming. Everyone likes to eat, so all land owners would sow the ground with wheat or barley seed so they would have grain to make their bread. It is something that would be very common to his audience. Here are the elements of the parable: seed, sower, ground, sun, rocks, thorns, crop or harvest. Nice story, nobody had any idea what it meant.]
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
' Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have
Lest they should see with
eyes and hear with
Lest they should understand with
hearts and turn,
So that I
[Jesus, why do you speak to these people in parables? He answers because they are not supposed to understand. And we say "what! I thought Jesus always wanted people to understand so they can be saved". To understand the answer you need to look at Isaiah 6:]
Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
" Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
9 And He said, "Go, and tell this people:
' Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'
10 " Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed."
11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?"
And He answered:
" Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
12 The LORD has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump."
[So Isaiah says ok God I'll be your preacher, and God says great here is what you will say and BTW – nobody will listen to you because they are under judgment, and their judgment is not yet complete. Then Isaiah said "How long Lord", and God says until there is only a remnant, just 10% of the people remain. This is when Israel was captive in Babylon as a judgment for Idolatry.]
Matthew 13: 16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
[Jesus said you are not the ones under judgment, you will see and hear and understand what I am teaching. And this understanding will be a blessing to you.]
The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
[The temptation in looking at these examples, and what I started doing when I was studying, is trying to figure out which of these hearts are saved, and which are unsaved. The ground by the "wayside" is the only one of these where it gives us a clear answer as to their salvation. Luke 8:12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Now if there are 4 examples why do you think only one of them is clearly pointed out as not saved? Simply put, the parable is not just about salvation but about being fruitful. Having the word of God grow in your life and bear fruit, and if not, why not. So when you read these don't ask "are they saved?", instead ask "what did they do with the word of God". The ground by the wayside did not take in the word of God, because the ground was compacted indicating a hard heart , and the birds snatched the seed away, meaning the devil causes the hard hearted to dismiss the word of God without even considering it. They hear but do not understand.]
20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
[The stony ground can look like the good ground to a farmer because there is a little bit of dirt on the top, but just underneath are rocks that make it impossible for a root to secure the plant. These are people with a superficial belief. I saw a lot of this growing up at youth rally's. Lots of kids, emotional invitation, everyone comes forward, "you don't want to go to hell, do you?". They repeat a prayer, someone tells them that they are saved, and they start out excited. Monday they all come to school with a new Gideon Bible in their pocket. By Wednesday they wonder why they are carrying that Bible around. By Friday some has mocked them and their new belief and then can't even remember the sermon that made them want to get saved in the first place. They go back to life the way it was, and wonder what really happened at that Church. They receive the Word but they do not keep it. ]
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
[I see a lot of these people today. They want a better life, a better marriage, better family, better finances. And someone tells them if they will just get saved, everything will turn out better. God was never their goal, just the means to get what they really wanted. So they go to Church sometimes, and maybe they even pray before a meal, because that is what good people do, but all they have really done is add religion to an already crowded life. They still seek money and pleasure more than God, so the Word of God never bears fruit in their life. ]
23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
[The good ground are those who hear the word, receive it, keep it, cultivate it and watch it grow. Faith for them is not a catch-phrase on a bumper stick, but a way of life. The Word of God convicts their heart, leads them to repent, seek forgiveness, and receive eternal life. They hunger and thirst after righteousness, so they crave God's Word, to nourish their soul. And they eliminate those things in their life that compete with God for their affection, their attention, and their worship. So the Word of God bears fruit 30, 60, and 100 times more than they received. Some read this and think fruit is winning converts. But Jesus never sought converts, he wanted disciples.
Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
The Apostles were not selling Fire Insurance, they were teaching and preaching a new way of life. A restored relationship with God, to where we once again reflect the image of God, in which we were originally created. The Apostles did not even call their gospel Christianity, the called it "The Way" Jesus put it like this:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
In the Greek, way is hodos meaning journey, truth is aletheia meaning truth, and life is zoe meaning lifetime. So Jesus did not portray himself as a one-time-experience, that you forget about a week later, but rather the Journey of Truth for a Lifetime. Those who live this journey of truth, will bear fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. This is the parable of the sower, and one day each of us will stand to answer "What did you do with the Word of God?" Did you receive it, did you keep it, did you weed out anything that interferes with it, and when it bore fruit, did you turn yourself and become a sower of the Word?]