Jesus at the beginning of Matthews chapter 13 was sitting by the sea when he saw a crowd coming towards him. He went into a boat and sat there and started teaching them. He started by telling them the parable of the sower. To sow in Greek means to scatter seed. So, the sower is someone who scatters seed. To scatter is to throw in various random directions. So, Jesus was telling them about a person who just took seed and threw it randomly or all over the place without checking were the seed will fall. In those days seed was scattered by hand. A method which, by its nature, left some to fall on unproductive ground. In Eastern practice the seed was sometimes sown first and the field plowed afterward. Roads and pathways crisscrossed many fields, and the traffic made much of the surface too hard for the seed to take root. Jesus used this practical thing that the Israelites did everyday and were aware of to teach them. This is the parable that he told them:
Matthew 13:3-9 (ESVST)
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 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, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
In the above parable, the seed fell in four places, along the path, rocky ground, thorny ground and lastly, good soil. After this his disciples asked him why he spoke in parables and he explained from verse 10-17. We are not dealing with that today. After he explained to them why he uses parables to speak, he then gave them an explanation of the parable of the sower above. We will be looking at the explanation in our message today.
Matthew 13:18-23 (ESVST)
18 “ Hear then the parable of the sower:19 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.
Jesus starts by explaining that the seed is the word of God. You see it clearly in Mark
Mark 4:14 (ESVST)
The sower sows the word.
Jesus starts with the seed that fell along the path. He says this seed represents the word of God and when anyone hears the word and does not understand it, the evil one, meaning satan or the devil, comes and snatches this word that was placed in their hearts. The word snatches in Greek means to take away by force. It is a word also used to mean a robbery of a property. So, this means as soon as one hears the word and does not understand it, the devil takes it by force away from that person, leaving that person without any word of God in them. This then prevents the person from hearing about the word and the person remains a sinner and unrepented. So, the issue here is LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD OF GOD.
20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 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.
For any seed to grow, it needs to have proper roots. Roots are the source of life for any seed because water, nutrients and any food that the seed needs to grow, comes through the roots. “Rocky places” refers not to ground covered with small stones but to shallow soil on top of solid rock. The seed will initially grow but because the roots are prevented from fully growing because of the rocks, the seed eventually dies. Likewise, a person of this nature receives the word of God with joy. They start fellowship with other believers and attends church and sings and praises God. They take part in all the activities of the church. At the beginning they are strong but as the trails and tribulations of being a Christian starts getting to them, they immediately turn their back and leave. These are the people without perserverance. So, the issue here is LACK OF PERSEVERANCE OR ENDURANCE.
22 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.
This is someone who also hears the word of God but they love the things of the world too much to let go. They try for a while to serve both God and the world but their love for the world eventually overcomes them and they turn their back and leave. This is best described by this passage:
Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESVST)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
The temptation is just too much for this person to handle and they end up going back to a life of sin. So, the issue here is THE LOVE OF THE WORLD OR THINGS OF THE WORLD.
23 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.”
This is a person who hears the word of God, understands it, has perseverance and loves not the world and it’s things more than God. This is a person who after hearing the word, makes the word of God his life and not only that,, this person starts to live according to the word of God. This person also starts to spread and preach the word of God to others thereby increasing the number of believers. This is a person whose life centers around the word of God and makes the word of God his/her world. This is a person who believes what the writer of Hebrews had to say
Hebrews 4:12 (ESVST)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The question here is that which one are you, is your heart along the path, in rocky ground, amongst the thorns or is your heart in good soil. Have you allowed the word of God to find good soil in your heart or bad soil. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, be warned:
Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESVST)
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
The word “enlightened” in this verse means, in Greek to make one understand, it does not mean to believe. This is not someone who is a believer or who has accepted Jesus as the son of God. Rather the writer of Hebrews says that this is a person who has tasted, in Greek meaning, who has taken part in the good things of heaven and shared, in Greek meaning, who has taken part in the activities of the Holy Spirit, and also this is a person who has taken part in the goodness of WORD OF GOD and the powers of the age to come. The powers of the age to come referring to the end times. So, this person has seen it and heard it all. He has been part of everything, he understands everything and yet this person turns his back and walks away from God. These people they do everything but falls short of believing. They then walk away from God, for these people, it is impossible for them to be restored back to God and the reason for that is, they will be crucifying Jesus afresh and putting Jesus to shame.
These people are called Apostates and the sin is calmly Apostasy.