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.”

Matt 13:18-23 (NIV)

In our verses for today our Lord gives us the interpretation to the Parable of the Sower by comparing four results of the sowing of the good seed to four responses. To be sure, the difference in the results was not due to the seed sown but the ground to which it was sown. Indeed, Peter describes the Good News as the “imperishable seed”:

23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)

The Good News ever remains the Good News – it is how the hearer responds in his heart to this Good News which makes the difference. This is actually a “Heads-up!” a red flag from Jesus - if you will - to check our lives if we too have had the immense privilege of having the Gospel presented in our presence. Sadly, our Lord shows us that the majority of the hearers of the Good News do not respond positively rather they reject this treasure – sooner or later. The Words our Lord spoke in the Sermon on the Mount come to mind:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matt 7:13-14 (NIV)

“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” A.W. Tozer

The ground upon which the good seed falls in this parable is the human heart which we discover are each differently disposed and qualified. Like soil, man’s heart is capable of improvement – of bearing good fruit – through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is to be most pitied if it lies fallow. Four different characters are revealed by Jesus through His description of the condition of the hearts of the hearers – the hardened and unaffected, the short lived emotional zealot sans wisdom, the worldly entangled and the fruitful for the kingdom – three being inferior and one being superior.

Those who hear and remain unaffected take no heed or no hold of the Truth – it goes in one ear and out the other - making no impression. The devil comes quickly snatching away what was sown. Such mindless, careless hearers are low hanging fruit and easy prey for the adversary. We are to prepare our hearts and give earnest heed when presented to the Truth we hear. The emotional zealots sans wisdom appear to swallow the Truth without chewing it – never assimilating it into their souls. They receive it with exuberant joy yet because they are rootless they quickly fall away. They have no fixed principals in their judgment – no firm resolution in their wills. It is possible for these to have the green blade of profession yet no root of grace. Emotional zeal will never carry us through trials, it will never sustain us. We cannot live on our emotions alone in our faith walk – we may endure for a while but not to the end. Remember, James tells us that even the demons believe and tremble (show emotion) yet are hardly saved:

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. James 2:19 (NIV)

The Truth begins to root in those who find themselves entangled with the world yet we discover that ease and prosperity, worries and the deceitfulness of stuff are destroyers of the word within the heart just as much as persecution and trials are. As the stony ground spoiled the root we see here the thorny ground spoiled the fruit. Worldly cares can be as entangling as a thorny bush or vine. They consume the vigor of the soul which could be invested in more profitable kingdom work. We are to let the focus on the future (heaven) sanctify the present for its highest and most advantageous uses. Scripture tells us we are to redeem the time. Never exchange eternal glory for temporary gain. That’s like accepting the paste gem instead of the true diamond. In the end, all of these worldly entanglements will be charred. The writer of Hebrews writes:

8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Heb 6:8 (NIV)

“Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity.” Charles H. Spurgeon

The good fruitful ground is distinguished by one trait – faithful fruitfulness. Jesus did not say this land was without stones or thorns but none that prevailed and prevented the producing of fruits in keeping with repentance. Saints in this world are not freed from sin but rather from the reign of it. Not all produce the same amount of fruit either. Some Christians are more fruitful than others. There are degrees of true grace – not all of Christ’s followers are of the same form yet if the ground is good, the fruit will be right.

“The most brilliant way to live is to always look for the light.” Ann Voskamp

What I Glean

  • The Good News of the Gospel is the imperishable seed.
  • I am held accountable for my reaction to what I hear.
  • I am to set my mind and heart on things above – not earthly things. 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4 (NIV)