“Are You Listening?” (Matthew 13; Luke 8)

Scripture reading – Matthew 13; Luke 8

We identify eight parables taught by Jesus recorded in Matthew 13. The Parable of the Soils, usually identified as the “Parable of the Sower” (13:3-23); the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (13:24-30, 36-43); the Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31-32); the Parable of the Leaven (13:33); the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (13:44); the Parable of the Pearl (13:45-46), the Parable of the Net (13:47-50), the Parable of the Householder (13:51-52).

The focus of today’s devotional is the Parable of the Soils (13:3-23), of which you will notice that Christ identified four types of soil: The “wayside” (13:4, 19), the “stony places” (13:5-6, 20-21), the thorny ground (13:7, 22), and the “the good ground” (13:8, 23).

We find three familiar elements in the Parable of the Soils (Sower).

The first, the Sower, who “went forth to sow” (13:3). Unlike modern-day farmers who utilize tractor and plow, the work of a first century farmer was difficult. Laboring under the sun from sun up to sun down, his hands callused from working with a crude hoe, preparing furrows in the soil for planting, a farmer would come to the close of a day exhausted. Once the soil was prepared, the farmer would take up a leather bag that contained precious seed, and with measured strides begin to scatter seed across the field with simple flicks of his wrist. Each seed, whether wheat or barley, was precious, containing the potential of life and eventually harvest.

In spite of the farmer’s careful labor, some seed would invariably come to rest upon four soil types that Jesus identified in his parable. The “wayside” described the footpath a farmer and his neighbors would take through a field. The “wayside” ground was hardpacked and the seed would eventually be crushed under foot, or snatched up by birds (13:4). “Stony” was ground often worked by poor farmers. Such ground was less than desirable, and with rain, erosion, and the turn of a plow, required the farmer to be constantly removing rocks and stones from his fields (13:5-6). Thorns are a menace to every farmer, and good seed that fell among thorns was robbed of the moisture and sun that is necessary for good seed to take root and bear fruit (13:7). The “good ground,” was fertile and seeds that were planted in it would bear much fruit: “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold” (13:8).

What was the point of the Parable of the Sower and the Soils upon which he scattered seed? The disciples asked Jesus somewhat this question when they came to Him and asked, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” (13:10) Why did the LORD teach spiritual truths and veil them in simple narratives?

Jesus answered, “Because it is given [committed] unto you [His disciples] to know [understand] the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven [knowledge known only by divine revelation], but to them [others not of their number] it is not given” (13:11).

The followers of Christ were sincere in their desire to hear and understand spiritual truths (13:11); however, those who were not genuine believers were left in spiritual darkness (13:11). They could see, but they refused to believe (13:13). They could hear, but they refused to hear what Jesus taught (13:13).

I close with an interpretation of the Parable of the Soil (Sower).

Christ identified Himself as the “sower” in the parable, for we read, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man” (13:37). The seed is identified as “the word of the kingdom” (13:19) and in the Gospel of Luke, “the word of God” (Luke 8:11).

The ground, identified as four soil types was symbolic of the hearts of men and their response to the Word of God (13:19-23; Luke 8:12-15). The “wayside” heart is like its namesake; hardpacked, callused, insensitive, and unresponsive to the Word of God (13:19). The “stony” ground heart is impulsive and shallow (13:21); when troubles and trials come, the Word of God withers in a stony heart like a seedling without root withers in the sun. The “thorny” ground heart is preoccupied with sin and worldly pleasures (13:22), and is beguiled by riches and worldly possessions (13:22).

The “good ground” heart is commended by Jesus for being both fertile and fruitful (13:23). The “good ground” heart is described in Luke 8:15 as “an honest [noble; moral; virtuous] and good [morally good; pleasing to God] heart, havingheard [understood] the word [the Word of God], keep it [holds fast; sets roots], and bring forth fruit [bear fruit] with patience[endurance].”

Friend, what is the spiritual condition of your heart? Does your heart evidence a sincere, honest, longing desire for God’s Word? Open your heart to the LORD before it is too late.

Romans 10:9-10 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heartthat God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith