Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
/That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.// //And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down.
And the whole crowd stood on the beach.//
//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…”// /
/“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.”/
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ndoubtedly, most of you will be familiar with this story that Jesus told concerning a farmer and his crop.
Jesus frequently used illustrations from the world of agriculture.
His listeners were mostly people acquainted with rural life and familiar with agriculture, especially horticulture.
However, just to ensure that each of us knows the account, consider again the story Jesus told.
A farm worker went out to sow his seed.
As the seed was scattered, some fell on the travel-hardened path where the birds feasted on some seed.
Other seed was scattered onto rocky ground.
The soil was thin there.
The rocks underlying the thin soil warmed the seed so that it quickly sprouted, but because there was scant soil to hold the moisture, the sun scorched the seedlings and they quickly died.
Other seed was strewn among thorns, and though they tried to grow, the briars and brambles outgrew the good seed and choked the plants.
Other seed fell on good soil and produced a harvest.
Not all the soil was of equal worth, for the same seed produced varying amounts of increase.
Of course, Jesus was using a parable—a story designed to convey spiritual truth.
Later, the disciples asked him, Why do you speak to them in parables [*Matthew 13:10*]?
Listen carefully to the response that the Master gave them.
To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it [*Matthew 13:11-17*].
Parables, then, are for the spiritually perceptive.
This does not mean that the parables Jesus told are necessarily easy to understand simply because one is a Christian.
The Master found it necessary to continue by explaining what He intended to communicate through this particular parable.
The question of Jesus’ meaning, though unspoken by the disciples, nevertheless weighed heavily on their minds.
Christians are Called to Plant Some Seed.
Hearing the parable without benefit of the explanation seems to place the emphasis upon planting seed.
Listening to the explanation, the emphasis would appear to be upon the fruitfulness of the seed as it falls on various types of soil.
Either emphasis is correct.
Christians are to plant the seed, but they are responsible to do so wisely, knowing that not all the seed scattered will take root.
Let’s establish that the seed in question is the Word of God.
In His explanation, Jesus spoke of the Word as the seed [*Matthew 13:18*].
That this is the case becomes yet more apparent in the accounts of this same parable provided in the other synoptics.
Mark quotes Jesus as saying, The sower sows the Word [*Mark 4:14*].
The definitive definition is provided through Luke.
There, Jesus is reported to have said, The seed is the Word of God [*Luke 8:11*].
By this criterion, it should be apparent that the sower refers to Christians.
Therefore, we can be certain that the responsibility weighing upon each Christian in the Kingdom of God is to sow some seed.
Tell others of the Good News concerning Christ.
I concede that there is no command to evangelise associated with this parable, but there are sufficient other Scriptures throughout the New Testament to enforce the knowledge that each Christian is responsible to tell others the Good News.
Underscore in your mind this vital truth that all Christians are responsible to serve as evangelists—we are responsible to tell others where life may be found.
The command of Christ demands that we tell others of His sacrifice.
How else are we to understand the Great Commission than that we are responsible to point others to life?
If we take seriously the words of Jesus, we are to compel people to come [*Luke 14:23*].
Salvation is not something that the Lord offers in a casual fashion.
It cost Him His life—separation from the Father, torment in our place, and at last the offering up of Himself because of our sin.
Therefore, it is irresponsible to think that we can be casual about telling others of His sacrifice.
We must be focused on bringing others to life.
A literal translation of *Matthew 28:19, 20* states, [h]aving gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptising them—to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days—till the full end of the age.
The emphasis is that since the disciple is already going, he is to disciple all nations.
Jesus assumes that disciples will be going throughout their world.
This command is repeated in the other synoptic Gospels as well.
In Mark, Jesus commanded to those who are His disciples, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation [*Mark 16:15*].
In Luke, Jesus is recorded as providing the following charge to all disciples.
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things [*Luke 24:46-48*].
Those were certainly powerful words that the Master spoke prior to His ascension into the heavens.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth [*Acts 1:8*].
We err if we imagine that these words applied only to those gathered on that mountain from which the Lord ascended.
The words reveal the command of Christ to all disciples, a command that shall of necessity be imposed upon the faithful until the end of this age.
We too frequently forget the purpose of Christ’s incarnation.
Jesus Himself said, the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost [*Luke 19:10*].
Just so, the Master has sent forth those who are His disciples, expecting that they will sow His seed wherever they go.
To disciples Jesus said, As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you [*John 20:21*].
Of necessity, if we count ourselves disciples, we are compelled to tell others about the love of God and of the mercies of Christ the Lord, for so we are commanded.
There is no question but that the will of the Master, expressed repeatedly through His command, is that those who claim discipleship will reveal their relationship through obedience in testifying to the truth of His love and sacrifice.
The conviction of the New Testament demands that we tell others of Christ the Lord.
The whole of the New Testament account demands that we tell others of the salvation that is found in Christ the Lord.
There were no silent witnesses during the days of the apostolic church.
Those who believed the message of salvation were transformed and openly proclaimed their faith.
They did so at great risk to themselves.
We forget the passion and ardour that characterise the apostolic appeals.
Consider one such instance of apostolic fervour.
Paul, initiating the letter to the Roman saints, speaks on behalf of all Christians when he says, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek [*Romans 1:16*].