Memory Verse: Matthew 13:8
13:13a, 10-17 Jesus And Parables
- 13:1-3a The same day Jesus was teaching the scribes, Pharisees, disciples and whoever else was around Him at the time, He went out of the house and sat by the sea side. Jesus ministry wasn’t limited to just teaching indoors at places like the Synagogue or a house, but he would also teach outdoors. Great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He went into a ship and sat. The crowd of people stood on the shore and Jesus used this as an opportunity to teach them through parables—simple stories used to illustrate a spiritual truth when explained.
- 13:10-17 After Jesus taught the first parable, His disciples asked Him “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” He answered them giving two main reasons in connection to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and how it fulfilled scripture: (1) To reveal and give more spiritual insights about these mysteries to those who have accepted the truth they were given. After hearing and seeing the truth, they received it by faith thus given comprehension. Their hearts were responsive to Jesus. The parables are instructive to such a person. (2) To conceal and take away spiritual insights about the mysteries from those who rejected the truth they were given. After hearing and seeing the truth, they rejected it thus not given comprehension. Their hearts were unresponsive to Jesus—meaning they were unable to convert and be heal from their sins. The parables are not instructive to such a person. Therefore, the parables can reveal or conceal further spiritual truth depending on how you have received the truth that you have already been given. The disciples were blessed because they accepted the truth they were given and were partaking in the culmination of all God’s promises through the ages coming to fruition in Jesus (many of God’s servants would have desired to see and hear or experience what they are experiencing).
13:3b-9, 18-23 The Parable Of The Sower And Its Explanation
Mark 4:2-9, 13-20; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15
- 13:9, 18 After telling the parable to the crowd Jesus told all those willing to hear to pay attention to what He was telling them. He explained to the disciples why He used a parable and now explains to His disciples the spiritual truth illustrated by the parable.
- 13:3b, 19a The Sower and the Seed—Earthly meaning: A sower (a person who scatters seeds on the ground) went out to sow (scatter seeds for future growth). When he was sowing the seeds fell on four different kinds of soil. Spiritual meaning: The seed represents “the word of the kingdom” (the word of God or the gospel), the sower is anyone who spreads the word of the kingdom and the soil represents the heart and response to the word being received. Application: First, check your life to see which “soil” or person you are. If you have heard the word of the kingdom—that God wants to rule your heart as King, how have your responded to it? Second, know that as we preach the word there will be different reactions to it, our responsibility is just to be faithful in sowing.
- 13:4, 19b The Way Side—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell by the way side but birds came and ate them up. The “way side” was a road or path that people walked on. The ground would be packed down and the seed wouldn’t enter into the soil very easy. Therefore, the seed was easy for birds to eat. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it even though He doesn’t understand it. Therefore, the wicked one comes and steals away that which was sown in that person’s heart. Application: Do you have a hard heart? Do you understand the gospel? Is Satan keeping you or others you know away from continually hearing the word so that it doesn’t take root in them? Are you willing to study the gospel so you can understand it?
- 13:5-6, 20-21 The Stony Places—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell upon stony places but because of the lack of soil (there was soil but rock under the soil) they didn’t have deep roots and when they sprung up they were dried out by the sun and withered away. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it joyfully without hesitation but it doesn’t take root and thus it can only last temporarily. When tribulation and persecution (times of testing) come about because of the word of the kingdom he just as quickly is offended by it and rejects it. Application: Do you have a selfish heart? Do you easily accept and reject things based on what is good for you? What is the reason you are a believer? If being a believer means that you will have to suffer and be persecuted, maybe you will loose your job, etc., will you still believe?
- 13:7, 22 The Thorns—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell among thorns and because thorns sprung up they were choked out. These thornbush plants would be growing in the same soil as the seeds the sower was sowing and would be in competition with what the seeds needed to grow and be fruitful. The thornbush plants would overpower the seeds and they would die. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word of the kingdom, and the person becomes unfruitful. Application: Do you have a faithless or greedy heart? Are you unwilling to completely trust God about all the cares of this word and seek first His kingdom? Is your desire to go after pleasures and wealth instead of loving God? You have to make a decision about who you are really going to trust and who is going to be your Lord, so what is your decision, who would you rather have? What idols of the heart are keeping you from fully trusting Jesus?
- 13:8, 23 The Good Ground—Earthly meaning: Some seeds fell into good ground and produced fruit—hundredfold, sixtyfold or thirtyfold. Spiritual meaning: The word of the kingdom goes forth and a person hears it and receives it with understanding and bears fruit. Application: Do you have a fruitful heart? Do you understand the gospel and believe it by faith? Are you willing to believe it not matter the cost? Are you willing to trust in Jesus as the Lord of your life? Has your life changed since you became a believer or has it stayed the same? What fruit has produced in your life that shows you are a believer?
- Conclusion: It seems that only the good soil represents a true believer. The other soils represent those who accepted the gospel to some degree but not completely—without genuine saving faith. They have some characteristics of believers but the word of God never produced a fruitful heart in them. The gospel was the same for all but the hearts of the people determined if the gospel would make a difference in their lives. Has the gospel made a difference in your life?
- What is a parable?
- Why did Jesus use parables?
- What does the sower and the seed represent?
- What are the meanings and applications of the soils?
- Which soil are you?