Parable of the Sower
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Let’s listen to Jesus preach His first parable. An interested crowd gathered, and Jesus stepped onto a boat on the shore, using the water as a sound resonator, carrying His voice to each ear. What would it be like to be there on that day…to be in that crowd? Here’s an idea: Let’s recreate the scene right now in this room! I’m no Jesus, but I hold in my hand His very words.
Read vv. 1-8
Three big questions emerge…
Sow what? The Word of God! Sow when? All the time! Sow where? Everywhere…but hopefully on good ground!
This parable answers the question, “Why doesn’t everybody get saved?” As tremendous as salvation is, it’s a wonder that so many do not get saved.
Ill.—if you were Governor and you went to a prison and offered every single inmate a pardon, you’d expect every single inmate to accept the offer…so why do many turn down the Lord?
What is a parable, and why did Jesus teach in parables?
Parable = ‘to place alongside of’. It’s an illustration alongside a truth. It’s an earthly story with heavenly meaning. It’s a physical illustration of a spiritual concept. You see, we live in the physical, and don’t often exercise the spiritual part of us. So these illustrations help the light to come on in our understanding…in our spirits.
So, why teach in parables? The disciples wondered the same thing…
v. 11-12 Jesus says there’s 2 reasons I teach in parables:
To reveal and to conceal.
To reveal truth to those who accept Him and to conceal truth from those who reject Him.
The principle applies to us today: If you respond positively to what light God has given you, then God will give you more light. But if you reject the light, you won’t get any more light. If you fail to step into the light shone before you, no more is offered.
Ill.—car headlights show you the next bit of road. If you move forward, they show you more.
If you obey the truth you know, God will share more truth with you…but if you don’t, then why should God give you more?
There’s no skipping steps with God. You cannot bypass the process He has set for us.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…
Some of you say they stopped growing in the Lord at a certain time. You were going forward, but then you seemed to plateau and level off. If I were you I’d go back to that time and see if there was a command you never have obeyed. You cannot circumvent that truth. The train stops right there until you meet the requirements to go forward.
I counsel with professing believers who say they aren’t willing to give up a certain sin, or forgive someone who wronged them, or begin to tithe, or be baptized, or answer God’s call…and they wonder why the heavens seem silent and their life isn’t advancing.
God does not reveal truth to us so that we may consider it, but that we might obey it. “Use it or lose it!” They are the 10 commandments, not 10 suggestions!
Jesus came to His own in Israel and they rejected Him, so now he goes to the individuals, and uses parables to conceal the truth from those who don’t want to believe, and to reveal truth to those seeking more light.
Today we see 3 elements to this first parable: the sower, the seed, and the soil.
Notice that only 25% of the seed ends up being successful. 75% didn’t take. So, what’s the problem?
The seed? Is it the problem? No, v. 19-20 say the seed is the Word of God. It is inerrant, infallible, and inspired. Now granted, we don’t want to use a watered down Word…and many translations and paraphrases unfortunately do just that…but ultimately the God breathed Word of God is perfect, and so powerful that even well meaning but misguided interpreters and translators cannot undo it even with many unfortunate renderings they apply to it often times.
Consider the power contained in just a little seed. If I were to hold a few apple seeds in my hand, there would be the possibility of an entire orchard. That’s exciting, because even if I only preach to a handful of folks -- if I can just get some seeds planted they can spread and reproduce and be fruitful for ages to come!
The seed of the Word is daily carried all around the world online with little effort…imagine what we could do if we tried!
Within the acorn is the potential of a mighty oak tree.
1 Peter 1:23
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
There’s no problem with the seed.
Ill.—years ago they found a seed deep within a pyramid in Egypt. It was estimated to be 3,000 years old. Just for fun they planted it to see if it would grow and reproduce, and it did!
The Bible is the seed, and within it is amazing potential. Each of our s.s. teachers scatters seed each week. Children’s workers and WOL Club leaders / missionaries we send out / sermons preached here and in thousands of other places…
We’re privileged to be one of those rare places still seeing souls saved, though not as many as we’d like, it’s much more than so many…and how is that possible? By scattering a lot of seed!
God has promised that His Word will not return void.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Usually we use those verses to make a point about the burden and the tears we should have…but I’m afraid some have that heart but don’t scatter the seed…the precious seed that is absolutely vital to the process of seeing a loved one get saved! Do you ever get around to talking about the Lord? Do you ever share the actual words of the gospel, or just pray for them or for someone else to do the talking?
Elsewhere the Bible says if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly…but if bountifully then, well!
We need to sing out the “Wonderful Words of Life.”
Why doesn’t everyone get saved? Why do many lost people visit here and walk out lost? Well, the problem is not with the seed.
A 2nd question: Is there a problem with the sower?
v. 37 Jesus is the sower in this parable, so we know He sowed right. What did He do right? He sowed! Sow what? The gospel of the Word. Sow where? Everywhere! Sow when? All the time!
The magic formula of the sower is to sow plentifully everywhere. If you aim at nothing you’re sure to hit it! We must try and try again, over and over, all the time! We must try and fail. Many fail to try!
We cannot continue to allow seed sowing opportunities to get by us. Don’t wait to be led…God has already led! Don’t say I’m looking for an open door…the door is wide open until one day very soon when God will shut it, and then no more sowing can be done!
You should carry gospel tracts from the rack in the lobby, and tuck your tip in it in the restaurant, and hand it to friends, or leave them in lobbies and restrooms. Some here use my plan on the back of the church business cards, the Five Facts, also in the lobby. It gives them our service times, an invite to come, and a picture of an amazing looking person, with her husband at her side!
Let’s be honest about the fact that we all need to do better at scattering seed...we have plenty of opportunities, but many of us just need to take them, intentionally, on purpose.
Also: passionately…that’s where the tears and the burden come in. The seeds only spring up if they are watered with our tears. When is the last time that you wept over a lost loved one? That’s what this altar is for!
And: patiently… in due time we’ll reap if we ‘faint not’. Don’t give up.
Ill.—farmers don’t plant on Monday and expect to reap on Tuesday, or even next week or next month. Just obey and do your job, and trust the results to God! Plus, we often will never know the results of our witness…I believe we will have some surprising discoveries in heaven!
In this parable, there’s no problem with the sower or the seed, so the problem has to be with the soil. [the human heart is the soil]
4 kinds of soil in this parable:
v. 19 The indifferent heart is pictured by ‘the wayside’. This is the footpath alongside the fertile field. It’s been walked on so much that that dirt is hard and the seed won’t make it. This is a hardened heart.
Just pray for them, and God can break up that soil, and perhaps a seed can get into a small crack sometime! Some won’t look up until they are flat on their back…so pray for circumstances to get their attention! Some need a near death experience to shake them up. Any religion is good enough to live by…but I need one that’s good enough to die by!
v. 5-6 The impulsive heart is pictured by stony ground. It’s totally different than the wayside. It’s not rock on the surface, there is a little soil, but then rock underneath. The seed doesn’t get very deep, so it springs up quickly. But it has no root system, and dries up and withers away.
These are impulsive decision makers who actually make a profession of faith. Maybe it’s an emotional, impulsive decision…yes, I wanna be saved! But there’s no depth or root to them, like ‘easy-believism’. And in a few weeks or months the FBI couldn’t find them!
Ill.—Alka-Seltzer Christians: a lot of fizz at first but soon they fizzle out. Like a faulty rocket, they make a lot of noise and fire at first, but never get into orbit.
It says the sun comes out and they wither away. That’s circumstances and problems. Some come to God w/ problems thinking that if they get saved their problems will all go away. Is that true? If getting saved is the end of problems then I say it’s the FRONT END!
Indifferent heart, impulsive heart…
v. 7 The impure heart is in thorny places. The thorns and weeds here may have been cut away at ground level, but the roots were still there.
Ill.—mow the dandelions in your yard…are you rid of them? Of course not, they’ll be right back!
These thorns and thistles and weeds represent worldliness.
v. 22 The world and riches choke out the Word!
The word repent means to turn, and as you turn TO Christ, you should also be turning FROM something, and that is the world system.
“The world behind me, the cross before me” is the best verse of “I have decided to follow Jesus!”
Let’s be clear now: These 3 examples are not believers who lost their salvation…they were never saved at all! The evidence of a true believer is that they bear fruit, Jesus said, by their fruits ye shall know them. James was right: Faith w/out works truly is dead! We’re not saved BY works, but a true faith will work!
The last example is the only true believer:
v. 8 This is the heart that humbly receives the truth of the Word, in genuine faith and repentance this one gets saved and is filled w/ the indwelling Spirit of God.
What kind of ground are you? If you are one of the first 3 types of soil, the good news is, you don’t have to stay that way. Make sure you have a fertile heart…ask God to stir your soul and turn the layers of your life over, and turn them over to Him!
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