(Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
July 13, 2014 (5th Sunday after the Pentecost)
What is parable? “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought” (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5).
The Parable of the Sower is the first parable on this year’s lectionary. So let’s discuss first why Jesus Christ used the parables in his teaching? Jesus answers us on Matthew 13:10-17. Jesus cloaked the kingdom in his parables since God reveals only his mysteries to his disciples (v.11). “The secret about the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside, everything comes in parables” (Mark 4:11). He also challenged his listeners, esp. the Pharisees and Priests, to understand the Word (v.13). Having explained that let’s proceed with the passage for today.
Jesus Christ went out the house and sat beside the sea, but the crowd was following him, and waited for him to discuss something spiritual; so he got into a boat and from there he taught the people who were standing on the beach.
The parable has four kinds of soil where the seeds fell down. But they are not the focus of the parable. It’s the seeds.
However, let me tell you how the farmer planted his seeds. The farmer carried the sack of seeds on the left or right side of his body. Then he grabbed the seeds and threw to his field. But when he was throwing his seeds, some of the seeds fell to different grounds. In our passage some fell on the path, some fell on the rocky ground, some fell on thorn bushes, and most of them fell on good soil.
I. Seeds Fell Along the Path (13:4).
Have you experienced to watch a Chinese drama movie without caption? Could you understand it? Of course not, if you are not a Chinese and if you don’t speak Chinese. It’s like the explanation for this text. A man who hears the Word, but he doesn’t understand it (13:19). Since he doesn’t understand it, he has no foundation of truth, and when the evil one comes, he snatches away what was sown in his heart.
All of us are walking in that stage. Some of us heard the Word of God in a crusade, Bible studies, Sunday sermon or personal sharing of a friend, but we don’t understand it. That’s why it is not rooted in our heart. So when the evil comes we are easily swayed and victimized. When other people come to us and tell us different beliefs we are easily snatched away since we don’t know our own beliefs.
II. Seeds Fell on Stony Ground (13:5-6).
Jesus explains the seeds fell on stony ground. He says, a man who hears the Word, accepts joyfully, but since it has no roots, when he encounters troubles and persecutions, he falls away (13:20-21).
These people received the gospel, but they did not nurture it to make it alive in their hearts so when they meet troubles and persecutions because of their faith and principles, they left their belief and service to God.
III. Seeds Fell Among Thorn Bushes (13:7).
When Jesus explains the third kind of seed, he says that this is a man who hears the Word, but worries life, so he gives in to worldly pleasures, and worries of life, and did not bear fruits. “It can’t produce a crop” (13:22).
This is the person who receives the Word and honestly tries to live for Jesus Christ. But there is one problem, the thorns or worldliness. He is unwilling to cut completely loose from the world. He bears fruit, fruit does appear but it never ripens; it is never able to be plucked. The thorns choke the life out of it (davidgospeldaily.blogspot.com).
Jesus explains the fourth and last seed fell on the good soil by saying that the man who hears the Word, understands it, and produces plenty of fruits (13:23).
The man’s heart is noble. He honestly seeks to learn to know the truth, spiritually as well as physically. Once the truth is known he holds fast to it. He bears fruit with perseverance and patience. How long have you been a Christian? How many souls did you already brought to Christ? (davidgospeldaily.blogspot.com).
The Apostle Paul advised believers to engage in good works so they would not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14). The Apostle Peter also exhorted believers to add the qualities of Christian character to their faith lest they be unfruitful (2 Peter 1:8) (sermonillustrations.com).
In the four kinds of seeds, where do we put ourselves? Are we seeds fell on the path? Seeds fell on the rocky ground? Seeds fell on the thorn bushes? Or Seeds fell on the good soil? Our own seeds will reflect our own spirituality and status before God.
The message of the parable is that the Kingdom of God is sure, and the message of the parable challenges us to be faithful as God is always faithful to us.
There was a little boy who used to escape his bedroom after being punished. He would crawl out of his bedroom window down an old fruit tree to the ground.
One day, his father told him that he was going to cut down the fruit tree, because it hadn’t borne any fruit for a number of years.
That evening, the boy and his friends bought a bushel of apples, and during the night, tied those apples on the barren branches.
The next morning, the man could not believe his eyes. He said to his wife, “Honey, I can’t believe it! That old tree hasn’t yielded any fruit for years, and now it’s covered with apples. And, the most amazing thing is that it’s a pear tree!” (illustrationexchange.com).
Fruit in the Spirit can’t be faked! You either have it or you don’t. You might attempt to hang apples on the pear tree – but that’s not real fruit! God doesn’t want us to pretend. If you don’t have a fruit that God intends for you, go to Him today. Yield yourself to Him, to His will, to His love and He will give you much fruit that you cannot imagine.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).