Matthew 13:1-23

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.

His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

The Seed Parable #1
This Farmer scatters Seed everywhere He goes and He goes everywhere! Where were you when Seed began to pelt your little head? Where were you when the Seed first penetrated the surface? …and when it began to take root? When did the Plant actually begin to grow? That patient Farmer just kept planting ’til it “took”.

The Sower
Who is this Farmer? And how can He be so patient? It seems probable that the ultimate source of the Seed is God, supplying it by His Spirit to the distributors who scatter that Seed by their words and actions wherever God sends them. Of course, God has no need to hurry.

The Seed
The Word of God. The Gospel. The Good News. The message of the Kingdom. Confirmation that there is a loving Creator-God that rules in a Reality that is our real home and He has bought us out of slavery to the evil powers that presently hold this planet in darkness.

Wayside – Lookyloos – Outside our thoughts
Our first exposure to this news of the Kingdom is just that – new. We are clueless. It practically goes in one ear and out the other. This also speaks of our state of mind, unable or unwilling to understand. We do not focus on it because it is foreign.

Rocks – Compulsives & Hardheads
Stones in scripture always mean established authorities. Rock-like or hardened. Hard-heartedness or stubbornness. Insensitive and head-strong. This state of mind is typical of adolescence or in the early stages of character development. When we have just begun to learn we tend to think we know everything. We are happy to hear the news but we don’t continue to focus on it because we don’t want to. Our mind is made up and when the challenge comes, we retreat to business as usual.

Thorns – Worriers
The descriptive words used here draw a picture of people who by their own choice, are beat up, kidnapped and suffocated. Like the thorns of a thick bush, these poor souls are pointed in every direction. They cannot focus on anything because they are so fractured, there is no way to tell which is up.

Good Ground – Broken, Prepared & Hungry
The “good” ground here is beautiful and well prepared for its purpose. This condition of the heart is in stark contrast to the other “ground” upon which the Seed fell. In the description of this ground’s receiving of the Seed there is an element of drawing the Seed into itself. That suggests an active seeking after the Seed.

Why Parables?
When these different types of ground are perceived as stages of the Word penetrating into our hearts we can also see the confirmation and illustration of the concept that it is God who is the pursuer as in John 4:23 and that it is His Spirit that “works in us to will and to do”[Phil 2:13]. When seen in this light the reason Jesus gives for telling things in parables makes sense. Isaiah 6:9&10

Disciples’ Access
But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” This blessing was due in large part to the fact that Jesus is going to explain the parables to them personally. There seems to be more than just the obvious advantage of having a person tell you face to face what they meant by what they have said. Jesus suggests this in verses 11 & 12, “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.” So having this privileged access to the substance of the reign of God’s Kingdom guarantees that you will never see the stream of information and insight dry up.

How Do I Qualify?
John 14:6-7 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 15 ¶ If ye love me, keep my commandments. 21-27 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being [yet] present with you. But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

• You qualify if you love Jesus, which means you do what He says. [By the way, that’s the reason for this series; so we will know what He says.] Note: That last statement Jesus makes in verse 17 should not be read in a weepy little sympathetic voice: “No men, I hope you won’t feel upset or afraid [sob, sniffle].” This is a command, “Since you have this privileged access to Me, My Father and our input and insight constantly available, STOP LETTING YOURSELVES BE MANIPULATED AND INTIMIDATED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND POWERS OF THIS WORLD!! LIVE IN MY PEACE.