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Parable of the Sower

Parables of the Kingdom

The parables of the kingdom, are some of Jesus’ most memorable teachings. One, because of they form short, memorable stories taken from the culture of His day. Secondly because of the clarity in which He expressed their simple truths. Another reason is that they engage the curiosity forcing one to contemplate and to think deeply about them.

Matthew chapter 13, contains many of His parables. They all are focused on the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God. One of the most well known is the parable of the sower. This story definitely focuses on the responsibility one has to hear God’s word and obey it. It likewise draws the analogy of the hearers receptivity to that of the different kinds of soil.

Sowing the Word of the Kingdom

“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them .But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: Some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear let him hear.” (Matt. 13:3-9)

Aside from the obvious lessons in the parable, the deeper truths were called the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus taught in parables so as to reveal His word to his disciples but to conceal it from the “powers that be.”  These parables were a sort of “code language.” Christ spoke of things which were revolutionary.

In these parables were deeper meanings which were earnestly sought out by the prophets and wise men. Yet they were not privileged to see them. Such affirmed the blessed status of Jesus’ disciples.

Shallow Ground Hearers

Those who did not understand and who were unwillingly to seek out the meaning, allowed those words to be snatched away by their lack of interest. They were wayside hearers. Just as a sower sows and some seed falls by the wayside, God’s word falls by the wayside of non-interested hearers.

Kingdom Emotional Hearers

Many get emotionally involved and can endure for a while. They hear the word, receive it immediately and even are joyful in its prospective blessings.  However, the kingdom was not attended by merely good messages. According to Luke and Paul, it would be entered only through much tribulation and suffering. (Acts 14:22; 2 Thess. 1:4-6)

The pain of suffering and tribulation quickly erased the smiles from the faces of shallow disciples. Christ said these were stony ground hearers. They had no depth of earth. They were like seed that fell upon soil that had stone underneath preventing the plant to become strong by deepening its roots.

The reference here is to the Jewish persecution and resistance that both Jewish and Gentile Christians faced. The kingdom was a direct threat to the long and well-entrenched practice of Judaism. To accept it in some cases meant death. Saul’s persecution of the church after the stoning of Stephen is one example. See Acts chapters 7 and 8.

Double-Minded Thorny Ground Hearers

Those who heard the word, obeyed it, but compromised their integrity by seeking to maintain their love of Judaism and avoid the trials that came with standing for Christ were thorny ground hearers. They divided loyalty expressed itself in conformity to the Jewish world which the Apostles, following the example of Christ, warned against.

They were caught up with the cares of “this age.” The word world gives the average English reader the wrong conception of the parable. The age was the Jewish age. Jesus’ message was spoken originally to Jews, (Matt. 15:24; John 1:11). The gospel was to the Jew first, then to the Gentile, (Rom. 1:16).

The natural affinity of the Jew to His cultural, political and theological heritage was difficult to overcome. Those who were not grounded would eventually find themselves torn between the two, especially when Christianity was young and not well established.

Hence, Paul wrote they were not to be “conformed to this age [Jewish] but transformed. (Rom. 12:1-2). He enjoined them to live soberly, righteously, and godly in that present age, (Tit. 2:11-12). Yet, Demas, one of his companions in ministry, forsook Him having loved the present age. (2 Tim. 4:10) Again, in all those texts, the Jewish age was meant. That is not to say that all references to Judaism use the word age, for world. Some use cosmos, as in the case of John who said, Love not the world for it was passing away, (1 John 2:15-17). He spoke of that same Jewish age.

Others allowed the deceitfulness of riches, perhaps their lands and businesses which would eventually be destroyed in Jerusalem’s destruction hold them within its grip. The result was they eventually became unfruitful.

Parables of the Kingdom – Committed Hearers

Finally, those who received the word of the kingdom on good ground were those likened to fertile soil. Their hearts were open. They searched the scriptures. They counted the cost of discipleship and they committed their lives even to death. They knew that in Christ they were victorious and that not even physical death could claim victory over the faithful in the kingdom.

These parables of the kingdom fall in line with Christ’s initial message at the beginning of His ministry. The time is fulfilled. Repent for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near. The kingdom came in their day as Jesus taught. The saints endured the persecution and trials. They brought forth an abundance of fruit, some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold.

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