In 2000, God had opened the door for Dale and I to launch into marriage ministry. We were young in age, but strong in faith, and eager to surrender to whatever the Lord had for us. One night, right after we had put our kids to bed, some friends knocked on our door. They asked us to go into our kitchen and wait until they came and got us. Moments later, they got us, took us into our den, and sat us on a blanket they had brought and spread on our floor. With candles burning and worship music playing, they read Matthew 13:3-9 to us. While reading, they took seeds from a bowl and poured them into Dale’s hands and mine. Then they prayed over us and commissioned us to go and scatter seeds. It was a monumental moment for Dale and I and we have remembered it ever since that day.
You may be wondering why our daily Bible reading tacked the end of Matthew 12 onto today’s reading. Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother, and sister and mother.” at the end of chapter 12. Why? Because He was about to give seven examples, spoken in parables, to describe what “doing the will of the Father” would look like. A parable is a way of teaching that uses the physical to explain the spiritual. Jesus often spoke in parables and He explains why, later on in the chapter. So, these seven parables , that Jesus called, “secrets to the kingdom of heaven” together describe the Kingdom of Heaven and living in it, doing the will of the Father, while we are HERE.
The Sower and the Seeds
This parable was HUGE in its implications. Whereas most of the disciples and Jewish people would have thought that the coming of their Messiah was only and strictly for God’s chosen, the Jewish nation, Jesus was proclaiming and inducting them into a ministry that would reach to the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 5:1-7 says, “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. ‘Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there, I will command the clouds not to rain on it.’ The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.“
The Jewish people were very familiar with this prophetic passage. Now, Jesus is initiating a new beginning. It was one thing to labor in God’s vineyard, but quite another to go into the world (the field) and share the Word of truth, the gospel. God’s chosen rejected Jesus; therefore, the gospel would now be given to everyone.
KINGDOM LIVING GOES INTO ALL THE WORLD AND MAKES DISCIPLES
Many of us have heard the parable of the sower and the seeds taught, preached, and referred to over the years. We tend to look at it from the soil of lost people’s hearts. But today, I just thought we might want to consider the soils of a Christian’s heart as it pertains to this passage.
The Path: it is so hard that it is impenetrable; this is a CALLOUSED Heart. For a variety of reasons, this heart cannot grasp truth. The word “understand” is “syniēmi” and means “to put together and comprehend”. The Word of God is spiritually understood (“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Cor. 2:14). So, if you approach it intellectually, you will not understand it; if you approach it as if you already know it all, you will miss its deeper implications for your life. Has your heart become callous to the Word of truth that is currently being scattered on your heart?
The Rocky Places: it has so many obstacles in its way that the Word can’t get rooted; this is a SHALLOW Heart. Paul encouraged us in Colossians 2:7, “Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Roots hold us steady and give us strength through the difficult storms we face. If you go to church and get a message that makes you “feel good“, and even go out talking about how good it was, but it doesn’t change your heart, and you never think about it again, it never got to take root and transform you. When the storms of life come, without being rooted in the Word, you may quickly “fall away“. Has your heart become shallow to the Word of truth that is currently being scattered on your heart?
The Thorns: it is consumed with worry over taking care of all that has been accumulated; this is an OVERWHELMED Heart. We can so easily be deceived into thinking that we have to have it all and have the latest and greatest of everything. We fall into that trap and before we know it, we are so overwhelmed with all that is required to take care of it all that we “choke out” the Word from our lives. Such a slow erosion. Such a slow fade. Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 Has your heart become overwhelmed to the point of choking out the Word of truth that is currently being scattered on your heart?
The Good Soil: it is able to receive; this is an OPEN Heart. When we are aligned to allow the Spirit to reveal this Truth to us, we are able to “understand” and comprehend, but also we are able to actually see how we can put what we have learned into practice. Ephesians 1:17 says, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” When we put the Word into practice, we have gained wisdom. Wisdom is putting Truth into practice, convincing us that the Word works. Is your heart open to the Word of truth that is currently being scattered on your heart?