Sowing the Seed

10 January 2021 AM – Matthew 13:1-23 – Parables21 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Read Matthew 13:10-17. The “mysteries of the kingdom” are the ages between Israel’s rejection of God’s kingdom and their full reception of God’s kingdom. Dwight Pentecost states, “Thus this new program began while Christ was still on the earth, and it will extend until His return to the earth in power and great glory. Matthew 13 This period includes the time from Pentecost, in Acts 2, to the rapture; that is, the age of grace (which we also call the age of the Holy Spirit, or the church age).” The KJBC adds, “That interval is the Church Age, during which believers are citizens of the kingdom which is within them (Lu 17:21).”
As Jesus told this first parable, He sat in a ship anchored along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. A multitude of people stood on the shore listening.
Transition: As we look at the parable of “Sowing the Seed”, we will examine the story told, the single truth and some spiritual applications that we ought to apply.
  1. The True-to-Life Story Told
a.         Read the story (v.3-9).
1)         Parallel passages are in Mark 4:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8
2)         Mark’s Gospel is very similar in length and content.
b.         Clarify the story
1)         One author states, “The expression implies that the sower, in the days of our Saviour, lived in a hamlet, or village, as all these farmers now do; that he did not sow near his own house, or in a garden fenced or walled, for such a field does not furnish all the basis of the parable. There are neither roads, nor thorns, nor stony places in such lots. He must go forth into the open country as these have done, where there are no fences; where the path passes through cultivated land; where thorns grow in clumps all around; where the rocks peep out in places through the scanty soil; and where also, hard by, are patches extremely fertile.” Thompson quoted by G. C. Morgan
2)         The sower went forth, out into his hillside fields.
3)         Some of the sower’s seed fell on the way side or path that went through his field. Being packed and hard ground, the seed did not penetrate and the birds ate it.
4)         Some of the seed fell on stony places. These were places where only a small amount of soil covered a rocky ledge. The soil was too shallow to sustain plant life.
5)         Some of the seed fell among thorns. Such thorn bushes were stronger than the seedling and quickly choked the life out of it.
6)         A large portion of the seeds fell into good ground. The good ground had been ploughed, cultivated, weeded and perhaps fertilized by the farmer. This ground was rich and fertile. Here the seed took root and grew producing varying amounts of increase.
7)         Galilee was in a farming community. Jesus’ listeners were either farmers or gardeners or had observed the work, the frustrations, and the benefits of growing crops.
2.        The Single Truth
a.         Jesus explained this parable for us. Rare for Jesus to do
1)         In both Mark and Luke Jesus tells us that the seed is the Word of God.
2)         The hard ground represents those who refuse to believe and the devil like a bird takes the seed from them.
3)         The shallow stony ground represents those who received the Word of God. However, the seedling roots soon reached the stones of troubles and persecution caused by the Word. This offended them and they lost interest.
4)         The thorny ground represents those choked by thorns of worldly cares, riches, and lusts, leaving them unfruitful.
5)         The good ground represents those who hear the Word and understand (Mat), hear and receive (Mark), with honest and good heart, hear and keep the Word (Luke). Only the good ground produced fruit, some an hundred times more, some sixty times more, some thirty times more. The good ground always produced some fruit.
6)         I believe that the KJBC rightly states, “Only the last one was genuinely saved and produced fruit to prove it. The others fell away (not from salvation, but their profession) and were unfruitful. Jesus said that the believer’s fruit would vary, but He gave no one the option of being His follower and producing no fruit at all!”
b.         Now let us identify the single truth.
1)         The reason that the seed of God’s Word does not always produce fruit is the fault of the ground not the seed. It is not the seed’s fault. It is not the sower’s fault. It is the listener’s fault. Man has a free will to choose.
2)         In other words, “A man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart.”
3)         A secondary lesson would be “Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the gospel. Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it.” ibid
4)         True salvation produces the fruit of a changed life. “No fruit means no spiritual life.” KJBC
3.        The Spiritual Applications
a.         Keathley identifies three lessons from this.
1)         One lesson we can learn is that we need to sow the word. There will be results. Some will reject, some will accept and bear fruit. Our job is to spread the good news.
2)         Another lesson is that people need to have an open heart to receive the word. We cannot convince them intellectually of the Truth and their need for Jesus. Their hearts must be prepared and ready.
3)         We also need to have an open heart to hear the word. We need to let it speak to us. We do not want to be like the man in James that looks in the mirror and does not notice the things that need fixing.
b.         Other applications
1)         The seed of God’s Word does not sow itself. As Keathley said, God has commissioned you to be a sower. (Mark 16:15) “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
2)         You will not always know the kind of soil on which your witness for Christ will land. Keep on sowing. Some will find good ground.
3)         A prudent farmer will seek to prepare the soil in his field. You can do this by praying for the hearer and seeking to cultivate faith in his heart. Be friendly, Christ-like, caring, tactful, polite, knowledgeable, patient and persistent.
4)         Do not despair when the Word you sow lands on unreceptive soil. God holds you responsible for the sowing not for the soil.
5)         If you claim to be a Christian but there is no fruit in your life to prove it, do not deceive yourself. Jesus said, (Matthew 7:21-23) “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Your sin condemns you!
6)         If you are not yet a true Christian, humbly ask God to prepare the soil of your heart so that you can believe. Keep asking until your heart is broken. Then if you will simply trust Him to save your soul, He promises that He will. (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Romans 10:13) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Conclusion: Is the fruit of a changed life abiding in you to prove that the seed of God’s Word has taken root in your life and given you eternal salvation? If there is no fruit, there is no life no matter how religious you may be.
            If your heart is like one of the unfruitful soils in this parable, you need to ask God to prepare your heart. Pray like the man who said to Jesus, Lord help my unbelief. If you will draw near to God, He will draw near to you. Then, by faith confess your sin and simply trust Jesus to save you from hell.
Song: Let Jesus Come into Your Heart, 244