Four Kinds of Soil
Matthew 13:1-23 (Pastor Heo)
The Parable of the Sower
13:1-15pp — Mk 4:1-12; Lk 8:4-10 13:16,17pp — Lk 10:23,24 13:18-23pp — Mk 4:13-20; Lk 8:11-15
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
God bless you with his Word. Your family, community, schools, offices, through you.
First two verses: “That same day, Jesus went out and sat by the seashore…
He went out in a boat to preach.
This is a very important chapter in the gospels. It shows a definite turning point in Jesus’ ministry.
At first, he was teaching in the synagogues. But now, he is teaching outside. This shows that the synagogues were closed/opposed to him – doing their best to find a charge against him – to turn anything he said or did into an accusation.
This is a supreme tragedy that Jesus was banished from the church of his day. John: “He was in this world, but the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1)
Maybe even today this could happen.
But that didn’t stop him from bringing his message of salvation to the people. He preached in the temple of Open Air, on the street, on the beach. A man with a real message – a real heart to deliver it – he will always find a way to deliver it.
The Kingdom of God is the focus here (and the focus of the book of Matthew). In this whole chapter (13) there are 7 parables about the Kingdom of God. Today, just one – the sower and seed. Next time, 3 more about weeds, then the mustard seed, then yeast and leaven, then the end time prophecies about the field and treasure, etc. So this chapter is the chapter of prophecy of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Parables: very important. What are they? Why did he teach in parables? What are the characteristics?
- WHAT: Greek: parabole = to place aside, to cast alongside – a story/comparison/illustration. Biblically, a short earthly story with a heavenly meaning – using everyday objects to explain heavenly truth.
- WHY: the laziness of the people at that time. Also because of the Psalm 78:2 prophecy “I will open my mouth and utter things that are hidden – things of old…” – it was written and prophecied that he would teach in prophesies.
- CHARACTERISTICS: Makes abstract ideas concrete. Most people think in visible pictures. For example, who can explain beauty or goodness without a story? But if we SHOW something with those characteristics, we can clearly understand.
All great lessons start from the Here and Now to get to the There and Then. Jesus wanted to speak spiritual fact directly, but humans would never understand – because we have no experience of these things in real life (no one died and lived to tell of it…). So, Jesus uses what we KNOW, the world and earthly things to teach of heavenly truths.
Parables help us think over these things. We must discover the truth for ourselves. Unless we discover it for ourselves, we will forget it quickly and it will be useless.
That’s why Jesus teaches heavenly truth through material things.
Today: A farmer
Four kinds of soil:
- Roadside (hard – can’t get under the ground – birds come and eat it)
- Rocks (shallow – no root – easy to spring up, but also dies quickly)
- Thorns (choke out the plants as they grow up together)
- Good soil (100x, 60x, 30x what was sown – produced abundantly)
Jesus then explains the direct meaning of each: (18-23)
- Road – hear but don’t understand – Satan snatches it away
- Rocks – received the Word with joy BUT lacking a root, he falls away
- Thorns – hears but worries about money and life so that he loses focus
- Good soil – hears and understands – becomes fruitful
In this story, the seed = the Word of God. Like the seed, the Word of God has life and power in it = transforming, creating power, and future fruit.
The soil = our hearts in front of the Word of God.
4 soils = 4 hearts
Outwardly, we all look the same, but even among us in this room today, there may be 4 kinds of hearts today. Please, be honest before God, personally, privately. What kind of heart do I have?
4 hearts, 4 hearers, 4 listeners = which are you?
During listening, examine yourselves – don’t ask your neighbor. Even though we worship God together, we also are worshipping God personally, individually.
#1: Hearer with a shut/closed mind.
If both doors in this room are closed, no one can enter this room. If the mind is closed (prejudice, pride, arrogance, sinful lifestyle, immoral character), anything we do not like to receive make us blind and shut. The Word of God may condemn what we like, and reveal what we do as sinful.
If we reject/refuse to receive the Word/Truth of God, it means our hearts are shut. If you shut your heart, even Jesus cannot enter into our hearts. He’s a gentleman. “Here I am, I stand at the door and knock…” Revelation 3?
#2: Shallow Mind.
He fails to think things out and think them through. Some people just follow blindly along with all the trends – new fashion, new electronics. They are constantly STARTING but never FINISHING. When they meet problems and hardships, they quickly give up. Even if they start new things with JOY they never finish them… It is good to receive God’s Word with emotion and action – but remember, we cannot live with God’s Word on EMOTION alone – you also need ACTION and COMMITMENT POWER. Christianity has demands that must be faced before it can truly be received. Yes, it’s a great blessing, but before that, also a great responsibility.
#3: The divided/distracted mind.
He has so many interests so that he misses out on the most important thing. Yes, these days everything is faster and more distracting: travel, food, information, results. Are you too busy to pray? Too busy to study the Word of God? Yes, we may not do bad things, we may do good things – but remember one of Satan’s biggest strategies is to keep us distracted with the 2nd and 3rd best. Remember, the 2nd best is the worst enemy of the BEST.
In your personal priorities, where is Jesus? If he is #2~ it means Jesus is not in you. In each person’s life, Jesus is either #1 or #0 (gone). Why? He’s the Lord, God, King, Creator.
#4: Good heart.
This soil/heart is open, soft, clean, deep.
In the reception of the Word of God, there are 4 stages.
He is willing to receive the Word – ready and prepared to hear and understand. He has sought many things and knows how this applies. He hears and understands and produces fruit.
- Produce fruit
Without PRACTICE…no fruit.
I know about the piano, I know the history, I know the keys, but I cannot play because I never practiced. Without practice, no fruit. This is not theory, but practice. “Everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…” Matthew 7?
Fruit is the test of true salvation. “A tree will be recognized by its fruit. A good tree will bear good fruit, a bad tree will bear bad fruit.” Fruit is winning others to Christ, sharing with others, the evidence of remaining in Christ. “If a man remains in me, he will bear much fruit…”
This parable has a double-impact/meaning for us.
- Before the Word of God, we are hearers.
- Before the world outside, we are preachers (sowers).
Remember, it is impossible to be a bad hearer and a good preacher. Only a good hearer can be a good hearer.
No farmer/sower expects every single seed he sows to germinate and bear fruit. Yes, he knows very well that some seeds will be lost, blown away. Yet, he never stops sowing – he keeps going. Even though some is wasted, yet, harvest is coming.
We must be sure: The harvest is certain.
To sow is our job. To make it grow is God’s job, not our job. Paul (a great farmer): “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (Col? Eph?)
When sowing, we must not look for a quick result. This is not natural. We must WAIT for the harvest. WAIT for the seed to take root.
In nature, it takes a HUGE time for an acorn to take root and produce a huge tree. It may also take much time for the Word of God to take root in man – even if the seed was sown in his heart in childhood, it may not take root until long into his adulthood when it saves him.
This generation looks for a quick result, but we must sow (preach) with assurance, confidence, patience, perseverance – knowing that the Harvest is coming – the End is coming soon. This End is not the end, this End is the new starting point for all eternity.
God bless us with his Word. We are not only hearers, but also preachers (sowers) of the Word.