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Monday, June 1, 2020

7 Parables of Matthew 13 -- Part 2

       Last week, we talked about the Sower and the Seed. The Sower is Jesus and the seed is the Word of God. Now we will talk about the soil in two teachings.

The Soil

       The seed belongs to the Sower. Jesus, the Sower and the Word of God, used four types of earthly soil to illustrate the four conditions of human hearts in which the Word of God is sown. In His explanation to His disciples in Mark 4:14, Jesus said, “The sower sows the Word.”  It is the Word of God that produces new, spiritual life into those who have hearts that hear the Word but also “do” the Word. Biblical hearing is understanding the Word and obedience to it. A person who is lazy about God’s Word will be unfruitful for God’s Kingdom. How we respond to God’s Word will determine our spiritual growth.
         Jesus is sowing the Word of God to this crowd. No doubt there will be the following types of receivers in this crowd. No matter how the seed of the Word is received, Jesus spreads it liberally without concern for the outcome. This is His grace as He sends forth His Truth.
       The four soils that Jesus is illustrating in this parable represent the hearts of people and their different reactions to the Word of God. Even though the Word of God is sown freely in this world, its effectiveness depends upon the truth being spoken, and the condition of the hearts of the receivers. The four heart conditions in this parable represent a hard heart, shallow heart, crowded heart, and a faithful heart. The condition of the heart will determine the growth or lack thereof of the sown seed. Seed can be sown in all kinds of soil but not all seed will survive and bear fruit.

         Seed Sown by the Wayside
 This is the hardened heart. There were paths around the field and between rows that many feet, carts and hooves had passed over while tilling the land, sowing the seed and gathering the harvest. The sown seed that fell upon this soil could not even penetrate this hardened ground. It remained on the surface. This soil hadn’t been plowed or fertilized in preparation for the seed. It was so hardened that it prevented the seed from even sprouting.
         This illustration of  the seed sown on the wayside are those who have such hardened hearts of unbelief that the Word of God is unable to penetrate their hearts. It is not received and cannot grow. It remains on the surface. These hear the Word and immediately discard it.
          This sown seed becomes bird food! In Jesus’ explanation of this parable, He says. “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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” Matthew 13:19 In the spiritual, Satan and his demonic host will steal away the Word of God that isn’t received in any depth. Satan is always waiting for a chance to snatch the Word of life from humans. The fruitfulness of the seed depends upon the ground on which it falls.
         The prophet Isaiah spoke of peoples’ hearts that had become calloused and didn’t “understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” Isaiah 6:10 The seed sown in a calloused heart will fall by the wayside (fall away). The understanding of those with hardened hearts is darkened. The Pharisees had this kind of heart (see Mark 3:5), and therefore could not see (understand) Jesus. They were “blind leaders of the blind.” The Pharisees and the scribes had the greatest Master Teacher – Jesus -- in front of them and yet they didn’t believe Him because their hearts were calloused. They were hearers only. The words Jesus spoke didn’t penetrate or have an impact upon them. The Word of God cannot take root in someone unless they have a receptive heart.
             The only remedy for this is to allow Christ and the Holy Spirit to penetrate our souls and allow the Seed of the Word to change our hearts. If not, we will remain hard like the Pharisees.
     Seed Sown in Rocky Soil

              This is the shallow heart. The seed (Word) that falls on this soil can’t take root and grow because there is little dirt in this rocky ground. The rocks crowd the seed’s growth. This seed will only produce plants that have shallow roots. There will be no depth. Jesus’ explanation of this soil is “This is the man who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21
            These are people who hear the Word but are not doers of the Word. They don’t allow the implanted Word and the Holy Spirit to remove the rocks (sin) which stunt spiritual growth and spiritual strength so it can take root. Mark 4:16-17 says that these hear the word and receive it with joy but because the Word has a shallow root, it only lasts for a time. When trials and tribulations come, these are not prepared to withstand them. Their faith is weak.  Sin and the devil will defeat them. Shallow faith from a heart that is untended and taught will quickly lose faith and the cares of the world will soon wither the life of Christ in them. The only cure for this is to allow the Sower to remove the rocky (sinful) layer and let the seed of the Word penetrate deeply within their hearts, minds and souls.
                                          (to be continued)

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