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Matthew 13:1-23

The Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Four Soils

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We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel and we have some extra copies. If you didn’t bring one with you and you would like one to follow along, just raise your hand up real high and somebody will drop one by your row or aisle. It’s helpful to look and to follow it along in the text. We’re studying the first book of the New Testament. It’s called Matthew and we’re calling our study of Matthew, The King and His Kingdom. It’s about Jesus, who is the King, and with the coming of Jesus, the inauguration, the beginning, if you will, the start of the unfolding of the kingdom of heaven has happened.

And so far, in Matthew’s gospel, we have studied the person of Christ in chapters 1 through 4, the principles of Christ in Matthew 5 through 7 – that’s that very famous sermon called the Sermon on the Mount by most of us and encompasses those three chapters. The power of Christ was a record of a number of the miracles of Jesus. And so we are studying those in chapters 8 through 12. Now we come to the parables of Christ. 

And it’s interesting because Matthew, who used to be a tax collector, who, if he were alive today, would be really good with spreadsheets. He would understand what a GL, general ledger line, is. He would understand what columns are and how to put things in groupings and the way he wrote this gospel record, you can see that he’s done that. You can see that he’s grouped things like we have up on the screen there so that we might learn and that it might be easy for us to grasp what he has recorded for us here: 

  • The person of Christ – Matthew 1 – 4
  • The principles of Christ – Matthew 5 – 7
  • The power of Christ – Matthew 8 – 12
  • The parables of Christ – Matthew 13

These seven parables that we find in what we call Chapter 13; the chapter breaks and the verse breaks were added much later for us, especially for English speaking people. As we would print the Bibles, we were able to find, hey, here’s Chapter 13, those start there. 

With Matthew though, we see, and as a matter of fact, I’ll show you how this works, you can see that this is the third of five teaching segments of the Lord Jesus and that Matthew has recorded these five discourse segments if you will. Look at – just go back to your Bible to Chapter 7 – that last two verses there, verse 28 of chapter 7,”The result is when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at his teaching.” And then jump over to 11:1 from where you just were, and see if you could see a common thread. “It came about that when Jesus had finished giving instructions to his 12 disciples.”  Look at 13:53, we won’t get there today, but that will be coming for us soon. “It came about that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed from there.” And then look at 19:1 (and those of you who used to do Bible drills are still with me), “And it came about that when Jesus had finished these words…” verse 1 of chapter 19 says. And if you look at 26:1, you would see the end of what’s typically called the Mount of Olivet Discourse, ”It came about that when Jesus had finished all these words…” Do you see what Matthew has done? He’s clearly marking it for us, even though our English Bibles weren’t set up to follow that marking necessarily. But Matthew’s doing a great job at saying, here’s a discourse and here’s the end of it, here’s another discourse and here’s the end of it. We have five sections like that. And we’re in the third section when we get to Chapter 13, which holds seven parables.

And we’re only going to do one of them today and we’ll do the other six next week. But the other six are much shorter than this first one that we’re going to do. And some of you will be familiar with this, so I’m going to invite you not to allow familiarity to breed indifference. You’ll have to be the one to decide that. I can’t do that for you. But if you will look at this afresh, we’re going to pray right now that the Lord will open our eyes. Pray with Me:

“Heavenly Father, we bow in your presence. May your word be our rule, your Spirit be our teacher, your greater glory be our supreme concern. And as we read, study, and meditate on this passage, give us a clear vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power, and a more confident assurance of your love for us. We pray this, in Jesus’ name, for his glory. Amen and amen.” 

So this is God’s word, unique in its source, timeless in its truth, broad in its reach, and transforming in its power.

Look with me at Verse 1 of chapter 13, if you will, “On that day, Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.” It’s a reference to the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret. It just has a bunch of different names for the same body of water, sits about 680 feet below sea level, 25 miles south of Mount Hermon in the northern part of Israel that we call Galilee.

Great multitudes gathered about him so that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole multitude was standing on the beach. So he’s literally being crowded off the rocks and sand on the beach there and crowded into a place where he is backing up. Then now, all of a sudden, there’s water. And so he grabs a boat and pushes just a little bit away and he’s going to finish his preachment by sitting in this boat while people are standing on the beach, lots of people standing on the beach. It says, verse 2,” And great multitudes”, as opposed to just a ‘regular’ multitude. Don’t miss those words, they mean something. Those adjectival modifiers are important for us. And they’re standing on the beach. He spoke many things to them in parables. As I say, we’ll find seven in this chapter. He says in verses 3 – 9, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road. The birds came and devoured them. Others fell upon the rocky places where they did not have much soil. And immediately, they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched. And because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns. The thorns came up and choked them out. Others, these other seeds, fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some 100 fold, some 60 and some 30. He who has ears, let him hear.”  Interesting…

The disciples came and they said to him, why do you speak to them in parables? I like some of the questions the disciples asked Jesus from time to time. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of questions for Jesus. Raise your hand if you have any questions for God at any point in your life. You better be raising your hand at least in your heart. Because we’re all finite creatures and we’re talking about an infinite being and he’s going to, by definition, blow our minds. If your mind is blown by some of what you read here, you’re right at home.

You’re right where you ought to be in terms of your relationship with him. But this question, to me, I think on the one hand, it’s like a question about pedagogy, his method of teaching. But on the other hand, it might be, why are you speaking to “them” in parables? I don’t know. What do you think they’re really asking? Sometimes people will ask a question and they’re really making an accusation. Some of you men have heard this before, “Are you really going to wear that shirt with those pants?” Anybody ever heard that? Anybody? Nobody’s ever heard that?

And I need to hear that because I do not know what I’m doing most of the time. I’m fortunate to have somebody help me with that kind of thing. And I had somebody help me when I was little and I still have somebody to help me now that I’m older, and it’s really good – God watching out for me. But sometimes it feels like that’s more of an accusation. That is, “You really ought not to wear that shirt with those pants.”  And maybe that’s what this is. I don’t know. Maybe these disciples think, ”Why don’t you just come out and tell them? Why don’t you just say,” I’m God’s Messiah, you should bow before me. I’ve come to save you.”  Why not just say it right out? Why are you speaking in parables to them?

Or it might be about why you speaking to them. Their question could come from a lot of different places, couldn’t it? He answered it. Let’s see what he took it to mean [verses 11-12] “He answered and said to them, ‘To you, to his disciples, it’s been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it’s not been granted. For whoever has, to him shall more shall be given, he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has, shall be taken away from him”.

  Now I hear a lot of you already. You’re already thinking. I can almost mind-read right now. Some of you are thinking about wallets and money and financial status and stuff. That’s not what he’s talking about here. That’s not what this is about right here. But it’s still about something, and it’s important for us to know that. It’s important for us to see what he’s saying about why he speaks to them in parables.

[Verse] 13,”Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”  And in their case, the prophecy of Isaiah is being … What’s that word? Fulfilled – strong theme in Matthew. A dozen times, he talks about fulfillment of prophecy quoting Isaiah often quotes the Old Testament almost 100 times. Matthew, definitely a Jewish man riding with a Jewish audience in mind, connecting the dots for them between the Old Testament prophecies and this person in front of him, Jesus, saying that he’s fulfilled so many of these Old Testament prophecies.

And even some of that’s coming to in other lives around him as well. These people who hear, but don’t hear, their ears are working, but their hearts not listening. Their eyes are watching, but they’re not seeing. And we talked about this already in the last couple of chapters, they’re literally willful unbelievers. So Jesus says what they have will actually be taken away from them, because they’re just not using their ears for the right thing. You will keep Isaiah prophecy is from Chapter 6 of Isaiah. It’s a really beautiful thing.

And he says, this is what’s being fulfilled right in front of you. You’ll keep on hearing, but will not understand. You’ll keep on seeing, but will not perceive. For the heart of these people has become dull. And I’ve been marinating in this passage, all week long. And I’m convinced that that word dull is really important for me, and maybe it is for you as well, because we fly right by it. We wouldn’t even think about it. But I would suggest to you that one of the things Jesus came to save me from, in addition to saving me from all of my other sins, is my sin of dullness.

And maybe you have that as well. See, I’ve been around this a long time. I’ve taught through Matthew multiple times, and sometimes our rest on my laurels. Sometimes I think, oh, I’ve got that sorted. I don’t need to listen to this. Sometimes I come in here thinking, “I’ve sung that song a million times, I don’t need to really engage with God when we sing that song.”  And what happens to us is we miss the hope and promise of being almost home. See?

And we miss that God has created all of his creation for one reason and one reason only, it’s this supreme end for which he’s created the world as Jonathan Edwards would say, ”It’s for His glory.”  And we go through life glory-less because we just become dull. [verse 15] “These people, their heart has become dull, their ears, they scarcely hear, they’ve closed their eyes unless they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn again and I should heal them.”

The Old Testament is a story of over and over and over and over again, a cycle of God’s people turning away from Him. Coming back, turning away. Matter of fact, the book of Judges, which is the book we started The Village Chapel. When we first started Village Chapel, we taught through the book of Judges. And it has this cycle of the rebellion of the people, the retributive justice of God against their sin, the repentance of the people, and then the restoration of the people by God who restores them. And it’s a cycle over and over again. It’s amazing cycle.

And it shows one thing really brightly, but I think a lot of people never see it in the book of Judges. And it’s the grace of God toward rebellious people who are repeat offenders and desperately need his grace. And they can’t restore themselves. They can’t even stay connected or pay attention to him. And yet He’s gracious toward dull hearts like mine, like yours. Jesus to his disciples, “But blessed are your eyes,” verse 16-17, “because they see and your ears because they hear. Truly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see and did not see it and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.”  He’s pointing out to his disciples, what wonderful spiritual privileges they have. And I had to stop this week and think about the wonderful spiritual privileges that I have. How about the wonderful spiritual privilege of being here today? How about the wonderful spiritual privilege of being able to sing? How about the wonderful spiritual privilege of being able to pray for the concerns of our congregation and our world?

And here’s my proclivity, oh man, that song’s too slow, that prayer is too long, the preacher is not funny, and on and on I go. Dull to what God might want to do in here [points to heart]. He says, many prophets and righteous … they desired to see what you see and they didn’t get to. Verse 18-23,”Hear then the parable of the sower.”  Now, he’s going to explain this to his disciples. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and it snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom the seed was sown beside the road. And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, 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. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns. This is the man who hears the word and the worries or the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good ground. This is the man who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and brings forth some 100, some 60, some 30 fold.”  Oh, it’s a great, great inspiring passage. There’s so much here that I’d like to get to. First of all, let’s just go back and look at the very beginning of the chapter before I get into some of the main points that I want to talk about. And that’s that you can see the setting itself, can’t you? As a matter of fact, if you can’t, here’s a picture of the Sea of Galilee, Sea of Galilee from the hillside right up there. It’s beautiful. And you can see the different kinds of dirt and the agricultural orientation of the land. Here’s my girlfriend. She’s there. We’ve been there together a few times and there she is. And this is another … I just had to have one shot of her. This is another shot where you can see how up in Galilee, in the north especially, you can see while it’s the most fertile soil in the entire region, it’s amazing what you can grow there, there are places there where there’s just outcroppings and the farmers will pile together the rocks and then they’ll plow up to fields so they can …But they’ve got to take these big rocks out. And so they make these little strips of rocks, these little fences along the borders of their property.  Down by the seashore itself, here’s a picture of a bunch of us standing out there right by the Sea of Galilee, on the rocky little shore that’s there. Can you see the people listening to Jesus crowding around? They wouldn’t be facing us like those people are in this camera shot. They’d be turned around and facing Jesus, who’s sitting in a boat. And he would be in a boat that …they actually have uncovered one from the 1st century. Here is the little bit of it that’s left.

The great care that they took to excavate this and to actually carbon date it to the 1st century and to have found it on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee – it’s pretty amazing. Is this the boat Jesus and his disciples paddled across? I haven’t got a clue. I don’t know if it is. It’s the kind of boat they would have been in, though. They estimate this would have hold about 12, 15 people, maybe. And the idea that there were boats like this is now historical reality, as opposed to let’s just imaginatively tell a story. And the idea that there would be boats like this in the Sea of Galilee is actually historical reality tied to physical evidence that you can actually see right there on the screen or in person. 

Now, setting all that aside just for a second, I want to deal with a couple of just a little bit of literary understanding about what a parable is, if you don’t mind. A lot of folks will say earthly stories that make a heavenly point. And I think that’s fair for a general definition of it. Jesus wanted to teach is heroes about the kingdom of heaven. And because it would inherently involve some mystery, he tied it together with some images. He populated his stories with everyday items like seeds, sheep, servants, sons, vineyards, tenants, candles, coins. He spoke about everyday experiences like work, responsibility, forgiveness. He spoke about common occupations like shepherds, landlords, judges, business owners. He spoke about common relationships like employers, fathers, children, brothers, siblings, talked about all of that, so that we could get a look, a little bit of an idea into what the kingdom of heaven could be like. 

What was the purpose of the parables of Jesus? Right here in verses 10 to 15, he says, some aspects of it are to reveal to certain people and other aspects of the parables are to conceal. And you’re out there going, is that contradictory? No, it’s not. No, He actually spells that out for us in 10 through 15. The parables of Jesus weren’t just simple stories designed to make sure that everybody got the picture. Let’s reduce it down through the basics. That’s not the purpose of the parables of Jesus.

Nor were they meant to be a moral of the story kind of thing that we now get a new piece of moral burden that we’re supposed to take on and try to live up to this. That’s not the purpose, certainly not the purpose of this particular parable. They were designed not merely to impart practical wisdom to a fool or to prick the conscience and promulgate some religious legend. According to Jesus, the parables are designed to reveal to some and to conceal from others. That may cause some of you some consternation.

And if you think about it only in one direction, it at least will be something we wrestle with and don’t fully understand. But Jesus says, in verse 9, right here –”He who has ears let him hear. “ Hmm… I have ears. I use them to hold my glasses up and my Shamwell microphone holds that up. I could work at Costco and do the display thing at Costco and have this little mic on doing that thing. Some of you have earrings on you, using your ears for the adornment of your jewelry. But they’re designed for much more than glasses, Shamwell mics, and jewelry. Your ears were designed for hearing.

You have two of them, which is awesome. That’s great. Because in my case, I lost 40% over here, but I can still hear. And this is awesome. But “Am I listening?” is a great question for me to ask myself when I come in here or when I get in front of my Bible in the morning or when I pray, Am I doing more than just talking at God or am I listening for God? And when I open my Bible, am I listening for the Holy Spirit to speak to me? I have ears in my heart as well. It seems to me that the conceal and reveal thing tells us this at much. And I can’t answer everybody’s questions about all aspects of it. I can’t even answer all of my questions. But in some, I can say this, I believe that:

Revelation is the gift of God. And it seems that the disposition of a person’s heart and mind determines whether or not they come to understand what Jesus is saying through his parables. So, it’s not just “he who has ears,” but rather, “he who has ears, let him hear!”  

Use your ears for what the Lord designed them for.

It seems that with the parables when you look across the landscape of them, they speak about some regular themes that occur. Often I would say:

  • The already- but- not-yet Kingdom of Heaven.

 It’s already unfolding, but it’s not yet completely unfolded. With the coming of the king. It’s started, but it isn’t finished yet. It’s not its total consummation yet. 

  • That God loves and welcomes people even though they are sinful.

Somebody say, amen. My little dull heart, that broke through me. I was like, yes, please love and welcome me, I am a sinner.

  • Some people respond to God with faith and others respond with unbelief, scorn, and some with indifference.

And in this particular case, we’re talking to a group of people in the religious leadership of the day that are actually hateful toward Jesus. They have murder on their mind. We’ve already been told that. 

So, He’s speaking to this great multitude that all have a lot of different reasons for being there. Some just want their friend healed. Some people just want to hear some truth in a world full of confusion and lies. Some people need some hope about the future in this multitude and in this room as well. And here comes Jesus and he puts it in such a way that if our hearts and minds are open to hear from him, he grants to us the gift of revelation. If I were to outline this particular parable, I’d say there’s the call to listen, which is this beautiful word, behold. In Verse 3, there’s the parable itself, verses 3 through 9. The purpose of parables is spelled out in 10 to 15. The blessedness of having eyes and ears of faith is spoken about in 16 and 17.

And then the meaning of this parable, verses 18-23, Jesus is really good about just laying that out for us. What does the sower represent? Who does the sower represent? It’s interesting. Jesus doesn’t actually tell us that, does he? He just says that the sower went out and he threw some seed. In those days, he would not have had a targeted Ryobi power blasting, seed sowing thing that he bought at Home Depot in Jerusalem. He would rather … The sower would reach into a bag, take out a bunch of seed, and just literally start throwing it indiscriminately and any just everywhere, is the way they would do it, just to distribute it everywhere.

It’s interesting. Who’s the sower? When I was growing up in Sunday School, we had this thing called a flannel-graph. How many of you had flannel graph? Anybody?  Everybody over 50? Okay, good. We have the flannel-graph thing and it wasn’t digital. They put a picture of creation and different animals in a flannel-graph. There’s the soft and fuzzy gray thing with the big fluffy tail. And the teacher would say, “Who is this?” And I’d say, “Jesus.” Everything is Jesus, right? That’s the answer to every question in Sunday School, is Jesus, at least you think.

And you might think that the answer to ‘Who is the sower?’ is Jesus. My reflection would lead me to say, “Could be…”  But, you know who else it might be? Might be you, might be me. Why? Because. He has called us to be ambassadors. He’s called us disciples to preach the gospel. And that doesn’t mean you have to have the title ‘pastor’ or the seminary degree that goes with it. What that means is just like He calls us to open our mouths and testify and bear a witness to the great things He’s done in our lives. You might be throwing some seed out there for others.

And you might be the sower. 

What does the seed represent? Well, certainly, the seed, it’s pretty clear about, it’s the good seed of the Word of God. I think that’s fairly clear and we can settle in there. I love what Tozer says. He says, “The Holy Scriptures tell us what we could never learn any other way. It tell us what we are, who we are,”  good question in our day and time, “how we got here, why we are here, and what we are required to do while we remain here.” That could be like an entire sermon series that I’m sure he did. But look at what he’s saying about the Bible.

Look at what he’s saying about the ancient scriptures we call the Bible. Look at what you could be looking for there instead of trying to find out here. Because where you take your questions is really important. Where do you take your questions? Who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be a human being? Take those questions to Jesus; take those questions to the scriptures. I agree with Tozer on that.

What are the various kinds of soil? And notice up on the screen there I put them for you: hardened soil, shallow rocky soil, the thorn choked soil, the good soil. Used to have all four of these. And you might have all four of these in your backyard. When we used to live here in Hillsboro Village, we had a house, and out back,  the house had been built on the privy of Belmont mansion. And privy for those of you who don’t know, my understanding is that means the bathroom, basically. That’s the junkyard, all the trash went there. And so when we did some additions to the house back there, sometimes there would be little things pop up in the dirt. There’d be some hard packed dirt. There’d be some shallow dirt with rocks in it. There’d definitely be some weeds. Trust me – we had serious dandelion attack in there. But then there’d also be some good soil back there. And so I had all four of those happening. And when I look at this, what do the various kinds of soil represent? So many times, I think people teach a passage like this and they say, “This is about salvation.” And I think it could be about how you respond to the gift of the gospel total. I think that’s fair.

But I also think that, for me, a guy who’s been around this faith and this Bible for a long, long, long, long, long time who sometimes becomes dull, it’s really important for me to also see that there are places in my heart that can become hardened soil, categories of my life, if I think like Matthew. Columns over here in this category, I’m the hardened soil. In this category, I’m the shallow soil. I’m, woo! Yay! Jesus. And then, raaa. Over here, I’m the thorn-choked soil. And is there part of my heart that’s open to the Lord and His change? Oh yes, I got it.

But I wonder if maybe wherever you’re at in your journey with God right now, you might think of a story like this, and perhaps it could break up your fallow ground like it’s been breaking mine up. The road hardened soil hears, rejects, and hardens. The shallow soil hears, raves, yay! And then caves, boom! It’s down. The thorn choked soil hears, easily gets distracted because of the cares of the world, easily deceived. That happens to me. It happens to you, I bet too. The good soil keeps on hearing on an ongoing basis, learns and bears fruit as it digs root.

What should the road hardened soil part of me do? I need to beware the incremental hardening of my heart. My desperate need is to continually break up the fallow uncultivated ground of my heart and remain teachable and reachable. Even when we’re studying a passage that I’ve studied a bunch of times, even when we’re singing a song I’ve sung a million times. Why would I want to harden my heart from God breaking through? Why would I want to say, no, resist? That’s important. I think shallow soil that hears, raves, and caves.

I think when we become aware of our spiritual shallowness, the best response is to cultivate healthy soil by the removal of any obstacles to our faith and mix in some good soil. Now I’m not a farmer. Pastor Matt is a farmer. They’ve grown some stuff out there. I don’t have green thumbs. I’ve got blackened thumbs. The death thumb is what I have for plants. And I like plants, so I like to think I’m the orchid whisperer once in a while or something like that, but I’m not, really. I just am faking it and I’m a poser. And my orchids know it. 

But I think that this little thing is true. That if I’m aware of my spiritual shallowness, and how many of us would admit that? Well, I guess we’d have to first get to a place where we’re poor in spirit before we can be blessed by that or through, in spite of that condition. Because blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Say, not will be, but is. If I get to the place where I understand I’m shallow, if I get to the place where I understand I need more depth to offer a place for these roots to grow and for this bearing of fruit to happen, which really this whole parable is actually not so much primarily about the sower or the seed.

This whole parable is primarily about let’s get to growing fruit, bearing 100 fold, 60 fold, 30 fold. It’s about a flourishing soul that bears fruit to God’s glory. Do I have that going on? That’s a great question for me to ask. And how I can get there, I’m exploring that with you in these different kinds of soil.  

A thorn choked soil here is easily distracted, easily deceived. When our faith is being choked out by anxieties and deceitfulness, the best response is some spiritual weed and feed. And I say choked out by anxieties. And that’s when I’m anxious, I’m basically saying, I don’t think God can handle this. Do you understand? Think about what you worry about all the time. When I worry, that’s essentially what I’m saying is that, God, I call you. I believe the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. But in this particular moment in my life, in this particular category of my life, I’m not able to trust you in this. I’m more worried, and so I’m going to find my path, my way to solve this. And then the deceitfulness of the world around me that says, do it this way, here’s how you fix it.

Then that takes over. And really, the response for me in that particular case is a little bit of spiritual weed and feed. There might be people props or places I go that need to go. The props might be a computer. The people might be unbelieving friends that are crowding out the faith that I have. It might be something inanimate like the internet itself or the voices of news that just are always telling me to be afraid or always telling me everyone’s lying or always telling me … So there’s all kinds of different voices that seek to influence us and crowd out our confidence in God.

We need to become the non-anxious presence of God’s people in a very dark and fearful world. Could we do that? What would happen if a group of people started to become non-anxious because they trust in God? Not because they trust in themselves, not because they trust in the government, not because they trust in money, not because they trust in education, but because they trusted the Lord. This is the One who has just claimed a chapter ago, “All things have been turned over to me by my Father.” That’s who we’re trusting.

To me, He’s the only one qualified for us to trust. Alright, I’ve got to close up. I love the way that this passage was foreshadowed in Psalm 1:1-3. Would you read with me? 

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither, and whatever he does, he prospers.”

Now here’s the question, the so what of all of this. What kind of soil represents your heart today? I realize tomorrow I might be more hardened than I am right now. I realize tomorrow I might be beguiled by some anxiety or something where my affections are misdirected and it woos me and calls me and says, ooh, you want this. That might happen to me and that might happen to you. But right now, if you stop and think about, that’s what the parable is for. Jesus places this in front of us and then says, hey, what kind of soil represents your heart today?

I’ll ask this, which kind of soil do you want your heart to be? If we live an unexamined life, as Socrates said, it’s really not worth living. But if we come to the place where we examine our lives and we say, what kind of soil do I actually want to be my heart in terms of its receptivity to the Word of God? That’s a good question for us to ask ourselves. So, Joe here, I want to put a quote up here by Joe Kapolyo. He is one of the contributors to the Africa Bible Commentary. I think sometimes it’s really important to read outside of my context by faithful Bible scholars who are from a different part of the world that have completely different experiences than I do. And the Langham partnership is been a really wonderful part of putting together this Africa Bible Commentary. I really do like it. And Joe M. Kapolyo was the former principal of the Theological College in Central Africa in Zambia. Zambia is the same city where, or the same country rather, where our friend Conrad Mbewe is from.

But Joe says, “Jesus’ explanation of the parable focuses on the different types of hearers and the fact that it is the prepared soil that is capable of bearing rich harvest. Sowers must sow indiscriminately.”  Isn’t that cool, how this sower tossed it out little everywhere? And the gospel offer is free to anyone and everyone and it goes everywhere. The gospel offer does. And the Word of God is here and we have it everywhere. I’ve got 10, 20 Bibles. I don’t know how many you have. We have it everywhere.  “Sowers must sow indiscriminately, but hearers must be careful to ensure they are rich soil, capable of receiving, nurturing the seed, which is the Word of God.” And I’ll close with this John Stott quote:

 “Greatest secret of spiritual development lies in personal, humble, believing, obedient response to the word of God. It is as God speaks to us through his word that his warnings can bring us to conviction of sin, his promises to assurance of forgiveness, and his commands to amendment of life. We live and grow by His word.” 

So beautifully put. Points me in the right direction – this wise old pastor who’s now home in glory. 

Pray with me. We join Spurgeon in praying:

“Oh, Heavenly Sower, plow me first, and cast the truth into me. And let me yield Thee a bounteous harvest. And Holy Spirit, we place ourselves before you, pray that you would come and cause the good seed of God’s word to find fertile soil in our hearts today. May it take root and bear fruit as it transforms and renews our minds for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, amen and amen.”

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