Jesus and the Purpose of the Parables, Part 3 (Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign, Day 1418 since Jan. 20, 2017 / Day 1783 since Jan. 1, 2016)
TEXT: Matthew 13:1-23:
1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Simon Kistemaker said, “When the Word of God is proclaimed, it causes a division among those who hear; God’s people receive the Word, understand it, and obediently fulfill it; others fail to listen because of a hardened heart, a basic superficiality, or a vested interest in riches and possessions.”
In our last few messages, we have been looking at the parable of the sower. Let’s continue looking at what this parable means.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says about this passage, “Jesus did not speak of any “mysteries” concerning the kingdom of heaven until the nation had made its decision concerning Him. That decision was made by the leaders when they attributed His divine power to Satan. Now Jesus unveiled certain additional facts not given in the Old Testament about His reign on earth. Many Old Testament prophets had predicted that the Messiah would deliver the nation Israel and establish His kingdom on the earth. Jesus came and offered the kingdom, but the nation rejected Him. In view of that rejection what would happen to God’s kingdom? The “secrets” of the kingdom now reveal that an entire Age would intervene between Israel’s rejection of the King and her later acceptance of Him. Second, Jesus spoke in parables to hide the truth from unbelievers. The secrets of the kingdom would be given to the disciples, but would be hidden from the religious leaders who rejected Him. In fact, even what they had previously known would no longer be clear to them. Jesus’ parabolic instruction thus carried with it a judgmental aspect. By using parables in public, Jesus could preach to as many individuals as before, but He could then draw the disciples aside and explain to them fully the meaning of His words. Third, He spoke in parables in order to fulfill Isaiah 6:9–10. As Isaiah began his ministry, God told him that people would not comprehend his message. Jesus experienced the same kind of response. He preached the Word of God and many people saw but they did not truly perceive; they heard but did not understand. By contrast, the disciples were blessed because they were privileged to see (understand) and hear these truths, truths that people in Old Testament times longed to know. Jesus’ disciples heard the same truths as the national leaders, but their response was entirely different. The disciples saw and believed; the leaders saw and rejected. Since the leaders turned from the light they had been given, God gave them no additional light. In Jesus’ interpretation of the Parable of the Sower, He compared the four results of sowing to four responses to the kingdom message. This was the message preached by John, Jesus, and the apostles. First, when one hears the message but does not understand it, the devil (the evil one) snatches away the Word that was sown. This is seed sown on the path. The next two results—represented by seed on rocky places that had no root, and by seed among the thorns (worries and wealth) that choke it out—speak of hearers’ initial interest, but with no genuine heartfelt response. The seed on rocky soil speaks of a person who hears the Word but falls away when he faces trouble for having expressed interest in the Word. Only the seed that fell on good soil had an abiding result and the production of a crop that increased 100, 60, or 30 times what had been sown. The one who believes Jesus’ word (the man who hears the Word and understands it) will then receive and understand even more. The difference in these results was not in the seed but in the soil on which the seed fell. As the gospel of the kingdom was presented, the good news was the same. The difference was in the individuals who heard that Word. The Lord was not saying that an exact 25 percent of those who heard the message would believe. But He was saying that a majority would not respond positively to the good news. In this parable Jesus demonstrated why the Pharisees and religious leaders rejected His message. They were not “prepared soil” for the Word. The “mystery” concerning the kingdom Jesus presented here was the truth that the good news was rejected by the majority. This had not been revealed in the Old Testament.”//////
Warren Wiersbe said about this passage, “This chapter records the events of a crisis day in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He knew that the growing opposition of the religious leaders would lead to His crucifixion. This fact He had to explain to His disciples. But their logical question would be, “What will happen to the kingdom about which we have been preaching?” That question is answered in this series of parables. So, He first explained the truth concerning the kingdom, and then later explained to them the facts about the Cross. Our Lord’s use of parables puzzled the disciples. He had used some parables in His teaching already, but on that day He gave a series of seven interrelated parables, then added an eighth. The word parable means “to cast alongside.” It is a story, or comparison, that is put alongside something else to help make the lesson clear. But these are not ordinary parables; Jesus called them “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”. In the New Testament, a “mystery” is a spiritual truth understood only by divine revelation. It is a “sacred secret” known only to those “on the inside” who learn from the Lord and obey Him. In this series of parables, Jesus explained the course of the Gospel in the world. If Israel had received Him as King, the blessings would have flowed out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But the nation rejected Him, and God had to institute a new program on earth. During this present age, “the kingdom of heaven” is a mixture of true and false, good and bad, as pictured in these parables. It is “Christendom,” professing allegiance to the King, and yet containing much that is contrary to the principles of the King. Why did Jesus teach in parables? Two reasons were given: because of the sluggishness of the people; and because it was prophesied in Psalm 78:2. Jesus did not teach in parables to confuse or condemn the people. Rather, He sought to excite their interest and arouse their curiosity. These parables would give light to those with trusting, searching hearts. But they would bring darkness to the unconcerned and unrepentant. The seven parables describe for us the spiritual course of “the kingdom of heaven” in this present age. In them we see three stages of spiritual development. The Parable of the Sower does not begin with “The kingdom of heaven is like” because it describes how the kingdom begins. It begins with the preaching of the Word, the planting of the seed in the hearts of people. When we say, “Let me plant this thought in your mind,” we express the idea of this parable. The seed is God’s Word; the various soils represent different kinds of hearts; and the varied results show the different responses to the Word of God. Jesus explained this parable so there is no doubt of its meaning. Why compare God’s Word to seed? Because the Word is “living and powerful”. Unlike the words of men, the Word of God has life in it; and that life can be imparted to those who will believe. The truth of God must take root in the heart, be cultivated, and permitted to bear fruit. It is shocking to realize that three fourths of the seed did not bear fruit. Jesus did not describe an age of great harvest, but one in which the Word would be rejected. He was not impressed with the “great multitudes” that followed Him, for He knew that most of the people would not receive His Word within and bear fruit. Fruit is the test of true salvation. This would include holiness, Christian character, good works, winning others to Christ , sharing what we have, and praising God. If a plant is to bear fruit, it must be rooted in soil and exposed to sunshine. In the parable, the sun represents persecution that comes because of the Word. Persecution helps believers grow. But the sunshine will kill a plant with no roots. This explains why some “believers” do not last: Their faith was weak, their understanding was meager, and their decision was not sincere. It is possible to “believe” and yet not be saved. Unless there is fruit in the life, there is not saving faith in the heart. Nineteen times in Matthew 13 we find the word “hear.” The Parable of the Sower is found in the first three Gospels, and in each one, the closing admonition is different. It is important that we hear God’s Word, because “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Jesus said, “Who hath ears to hear”, “Take heed what you hear!”, and “Take heed how you hear!”.
After Jesus told the parable of the sower to the multitudes, He privately provided the reasons why He taught in parables and an explanation of the parable to his disciples. Before we look at the explanation of the parable that Jesus has provided, let’s look at the reasons why Jesus taught in parables.
Matthew 13:10-17 says, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” David Guzik said, “The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay; and so the very same gospel message that humbles the honest heart and leads to repentance may also harden the heart of the dishonest listener and confirm that one in their path of disobedience. The parables of Jesus presented God’s message so the spiritually sensitive could understand, but the hardened would merely hear a story without heaping up additional condemnation for rejecting God’s Word. In light of this, those who do understand the parables of Jesus are genuinely blessed. Not only do they gain the benefit of the spiritual truth illustrated, but they also display some measure of responsiveness to the Holy Spirit. ” Isaiah 6:9-10 says, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
Now let’s look at the nature of the sower and the seed. The seed is explicitly stated to be the word of the kingdom, the Gospel. Jesus does not directly state who the sower is meant to represent, and there are two interpretations of it. The first view says that Jesus is the sower. In the Parable of the Tares, which occurs later in this chapter, that sower is explicitly said to be the Son of man, Jesus Christ. So if Jesus is the Sower in that parable, it makes sense for Jesus to be the Sower in this parable as well, since He is the ultimate source of the seed of the Gospel. The second view is that the sower is meant to represent anyone who shares the seed of the Gospel, first being Jesus, then the apostles, continuing through Christians of every age all the way up to the missionaries and true evangelists of our day. If that view is correct, we find a lesson that we can learn here: The power of the Gospel is not dependent on our power, for God’s word will not come back void. We do not need to be anxious about sharing the Gospel just because we are not skillful speakers or makers of good conversation. John MacArthur said, “The results of the hearing of the gospel always depend on the condition of the soil, not the skill of the sower.” We must share the Gospel, the seed, regardless of what kind of heart, or soil, it falls upon. The sower did not pause to consider the soil on which his seed fell, he simply spread it extensively, and let it fall where it would. We cannot be attempting to know the hearts of people and only sharing the Gospel with the people we think will be receptive, we must share it everywhere with everyone, and let it be accepted or rejected as it may. Charles Spurgeon said, “Our business is to scatter the good seed broadcast. We are not to dibble in the Word, we are to throw it as far as we can, and to let it fall wherever God pleases.” Let’s spread the Gospel and leave the results to God.
Now, let’s look at the four different types of soil, or hearts of the hearers, that the seed of the Gospel falls on.
First, Satan snatches away the seed of the Gospel from the hearts of those who do not understand. Matthew 13:4 says, “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:” Jesus provides the explanation in verse 19: “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” John MacArthur said, “Satan wants to make sure it never has a chance to penetrate. He snatches it away through the influence of false teachers. He snatches it away to the fear of man. He snatches it away through pride. He snatches it away through doubt. He snatches it away through prejudice. He snatches it away through stubbornness. He snatches it away through procrastination. He snatches it away mostly through the love of iniquity. But he snatches it away. That’s a sad situation. And you have to look at your own heart this morning. Are you that hard dry road at the end of the field? Maybe you even come occasionally here and some of us throw the seed. It bounces, disappears. Has your life been hardened by sins that you’ve constantly tread over your heart so that the powerful, productive seed of God’s Word can never penetrate?”
Second, some receive the seed of the Gospel with joy but fall away when trouble comes. Matthew 13:5-6 says, “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” Jesus provides the explanation in verses 20-21: “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Colossians 2:6-7 says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” David Guzik said, “As seed falling on the thin soil on top of the stony places quickly springs up and then quickly withers and dies (Matthew 13:5-6), so some respond to the word with immediate enthusiasm yet soon wither away. This soil represents those who receive the word enthusiastically, but their life is short-lived, because they are not willing to endure tribulation or persecution because of the word. Spurgeon made a good point: “I want you clearly to understand that the fault did not lie in the suddenness of their supposed conversion. Many sudden conversions have been among the best that have ever happened.” The problem was not their sudden growth, but their lack of depth. Tribulation is a general term for suffering which comes from outside; persecution is deliberately inflicted, and usually implies a religious motive. Falls away is literally ‘is tripped up’; it is not a gradual loss of interest, but a collapse under pressure.”
Third, some hear the seed of the Gospel, but their focus on the world chokes out the word. Matthew 13:7 says, “And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:” Jesus provides the explanation in verse 22: “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Mark 10:25 says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew Henry said, “Prosperity destroys the word in the heart, as much as persecution does; and more dangerously, because more silently. Care for another world would quicken the springing of this seed, but care for this world chokes it. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse. Worldly cares are great hindrances to our profiting by the word of God, and our proficiency in religion. They eat up that vigour of soul which should be spent in divine things; divert and distract us in duty, and do us most mischief of all afterwards; quenching the sparks of good affections, and bursting the cords of good resolutions; those who are careful and cumbered about many things, commonly neglect the one thing needful. Those who have raised estates, and so the danger that arises from care seems to be over, and they continue hearers of the word, are still in a snare; it is hard for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven: they are apt to promise themselves that in riches which is not in them; to rely upon them, and to take an inordinate complacency in them; and this chokes the word as much as worldly cares do. Observe, It is not so much riches, as the deceitfulness of riches, that does the mischief: now they cannot be said to be deceitful to us unless we put our confidence in them, and raise our expectations from them, and then it is that they choke the good seed.”
Fourth, some hear the Word, understand the Word, and grow in Word. Matthew 13:8 says, “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” Jesus provides the explanation in verse 23: “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” John 15:8 says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” Adam Clarke said, “to hear, to understand, and to bring forth fruit, are the three grand evidences of a genuine believer. He who does not hear the word of wisdom cannot understand what makes for his peace; and he who does not understand what the Gospel requires him to be and to perform, cannot bring forth fruit; and he who is not fruitful, very fruitful, cannot be a disciple of Christ; and he who is not Christ’s disciple cannot enter into the kingdom of God. From the different portions of fruit produced by the good ground, a hundred, sixty, and thirty, we may learn that all sound believers are not equally fruitful; all hear, understand, and bring forth fruit, but not in the same degrees-occasioned, partly, by their situation and circumstances not allowing them such extensive opportunities of receiving and doing good; and, partly, by lack of mental capacity – for every mind is not equally improvable. Let it be further observed that the unfruitfulness of the different lands was not owing to bad seed or an unskilful sower – the same sower sows the same seed in all, and with the same gracious design – but it is unfruitful in many because they are careless, inattentive, and worldly-minded. But is not the ground naturally bad in every heart? Undoubtedly. And can any but God make it good? None. But it is your business, when you hear of the justice and mercy of God, to implore him to work in you that which is pleasing in his sight. No man shall be condemned because he did not change his own heart, but because he did not cry to God to change it, who gave him his Holy Spirit for this very purpose, and which he, by his worldly-mindedness and impiety, quenched. Whoso hath ears to hear let him hear: and may the Lord save you from an impenitent and unfruitful heart!”
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:8: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in 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.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.