Matthew 13 The Sower
Matthew 13:1-23 MKJV In that day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the seaside. (2) And great crowds were gathered to Him, so that He went into a boat and sat. And all the crowd stood on the shore. (3) And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow. (4) And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them. (5) Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. And they sprang up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth. (6) And the sun rising, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. (7) And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked them. (8) And some fell on the good ground and yielded fruit, indeed one a hundredfold, and one sixty, and one thirty. (9) He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (10) And the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? (11) He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them. (12) For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has. (13) Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand. (14) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, “By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive; (15) for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. (17) For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard them. (18) Therefore hear the parable of the sower. (19) When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown by the wayside. (20) But that which was sown on the stony places is this: he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. (21) But he has no root in himself, and is temporary. For when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, he immediately stumbles. (22) And that sown into the thorns is this: he who hears the Word; and the anxiety of this world, and the deceit of riches, choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful. (23) But that sown on the good ground is this: he who hears the Word and understands; who also bears fruit and produces one truly a hundredfold; and one sixty; and one thirty.
Jesus sat watching the sun rise over the hills, reflecting shades of blue and red from the tiny waves upon the water. The sky was already a light blue. The contrast made Him think of the images in His mind of Heaven with the translucent pavement of blue like a sea of glass mingled with fire. He let out a deep sigh, as a sign of being a little homesick. As His thoughts and prayers focused on the people He had served the day before, and began turning toward the coming demands of the day, He could hear people beginning to gather behind Him. Jesus remained in meditation with the Holy Spirit as the people respectively waited. Jesus already knew, this was not a day centered on physical healing, but spiritual. As the water turned to shimmering blue and silver every word of His sermon flowed through His mind. The Spirit was working in Jesus to pull in bits and pieces from different parts of scripture to teach a lesson many had prayed for, but few had experienced.
His disciple made their way through the crowd to be at His side. Jesus’ mind was still focused on the Spirit, His heart pleading for the time when the Holy Spirit will one day cover the earth and be heard again. A deep feeling impressed Him to provide a visual image of the Spirit of God moving upon the waters. Jesus got into a boat and cast out a little way into the water as the people gathered upon the shore.
Jesus looked upon the faces of the people sitting on the shoreline, and those standing behind them. He could see His prayers had been answered as He gazed upon the hunger and wonder in their eyes. He knew the Spirit had prepared the hearts and minds of each individual called to hear Him speak that day.
Jesus began His parable, “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” As He spoke, He motioned with His arms the movements of a farmer sowing his seed in a field. Jesus hesitated a little while, while He shifted His weight from side to side in the boat, making it rock, creating tiny splashes of water, like rain. This helped the people to see beyond His words, and the physical scene.
Timing was everything for the farmer. If he planted too early, he may risk a late frost on the tiny plants. Plant too late the crop may not properly develop. The sower spread his seed and relied upon God to send the proper amount of sunlight and rain.
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring out and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do. Isaiah 55:10-11 MKJV.
Jesus continued His parable, “And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them.” As He spoke a little boy threw a few bread crumbs in the air, which landed in the water, and were instantly scooped up by a few nearby sea gulls. One of them flew near Jesus, who made a motion like trying to catch the bird in a net.
A little laughter was heard from those gathered. Once it was silent Jesus continued, “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. And they sprang up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.” As Jesus spoke, He bent down to pick up a few small stones lying on the bottom of the boat, and tossed them into the calm water. One after another they formed tiny rings which quickly expanded in the water. The people watched as the ripples intersected and then disappeared. Pointing up at the sun, Jesus continued, “And the sun rising, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away.” The timing was perfect, as the sun reached an angle reflecting off the water into the eyes of those listening. They had to shade their eyes with their hands to see Jesus, His human image in contrast to the light of the sun shinning off the water. To God, the image of the symbols was as important as the words.
After the dramatic scene was accomplished, Jesus held up one corner of a fishing net as His next prop and said, “And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked them.” Some people remembered a field they have seen over grown with weeds. Some times in those fields, a flower will grow. The tiny flower will struggle to compete for sunlight, moisture and nutrients. The weeds will do all they can to smother the little plant. They will crowd around the plant to rob it of sunlight, while in the unseen struggle beneath the ground, roots will try to strangle the tiny plant from below. No one remembers what the weeds looked like, but most people will never forget the tiny plant with it vibrant color, and delicate pedals trying to survive in a world doing its best to gain complete domination.
Sitting down in the boat, Jesus finished His parable, “And some fell on the good ground and yielded fruit, indeed one a hundredfold, and one sixty, and one thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He called out to John, who immediately began pulling Jesus and the boat in by the rope he had been holding. As Jesus neared the shore, He reached over and began splashing water onto those on the shore, each time sending hundreds of drops or water into the air, and onto those who came to hear Him preach.
Jesus sat down to a simple breakfast with His disciples with others sitting near and far along the shoreline. A cool breeze was blowing off the water, making for a comfortable setting when combined with the sunlight filtering in through the scattered clouds. As the clouds cleared away and the sun cast it rays, Jesus turned His face to capture the warmth, and the disciples said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus stood up, walked behind John, put His hands on his shoulders, and leaning over He answered and said to them, “Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.” Jesus walked over towards Peter, picking up three cakes of bread on the way. Placing them on Peter’s plate He said, “for whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has.” Jesus positioned Himself in the middle of His disciples and continued, “therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive; for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Walking among His disciples Jesus first touched Philip’s eyes, then Mark’s ears, “blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard them.”
Jesus gave the disciples a minute to think about what He had just told them, and discuss it in hushed tones. They could tell this was one of the most significant lessons Jesus would teach. Imagine, learning things from the Son of God the prophets yearned to hear, see, and understand. Their attention was now totally focused on their Great Teacher.
The disciples had been following Jesus for more than a year. They had seen Jesus speak, heal, and raise people from the dead, but never had they seen such an excited look in His face. The excitement on His face told them He was about to share something very important. They listened with joyful anticipation as Jesus began, “Therefore hear the parable of the sower. The sower sows the word.”
The disciples knew, Jesus is the one who sows the word. Jesus’ words and the Holy Spirit began to inspire John as he thought to himself, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3 MKJV)
Jesus continued, “When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown by the wayside.” As the disciples listened they remembered how quickly the birds had snatched the bread thrown by the boy on the shore. They knew the devil would work on people quickly to steal the Word from them before the seeds had a chance to sprout in their hearts. Knowing this they wondered to themselves, how does Satan steal the Word away? They remembered the words of Hosea, “The prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.” (Hosea 9:8 MKJV) Satan used false prophets to mislead people. They also remembered how David used birds to represent people. “Our soul has escaped like a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.” (Psalms 124:7 MKJV). The bird represented people who snatched God’s Word from their hearts. They also wondered why a bird sometimes represented a person facing a trap, and realized, a false prophet is one facing a trap laid by Satan.
The disciples also knew how David used a wayside, or road to represent life. “O Jehovah, keep me from the hands of the wicked; keep me from the violent man who purposed to trip up my steps. The proud have hidden cords and a trap for me; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set snares for me. Selah.” (Psalms 140:4-5 MKJV). The disciples began to understand they were never safe along life’s road. Using symbols which led to scripture, Jesus showed how quickly the Word can be stolen, how people used by Satan were stuck in a trap, and became a trap themselves for Satan to use. They began to understand how one error would lead to another. Realizing the road ahead of them will be filled by traps to steal the Word from their hearts, and their souls, they focused all their attention on Jesus’ words.
Jesus kicked at the stones upon the ground making a little pile in front of the disciples. He took a few seeds out from a plate, held them up over the stones, and let them drop one at a time as He explained, “that which was sown on the stony places is this: he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy.”
This instantly brought one or two verses to everyone’s mind. “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19 MKJV). There was no doubt Jesus was referring to seed falling on a heart that was not prepared to accept it. As the disciple’s minds compared Jesus’ words to scripture coming to their memory, Jesus said, “he has no root in himself, and is temporary. For when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, he immediately stumbles.”
The disciples could remember the struggles they faced inside themselves when they first heard Jesus’ words. Peter remembered His response to Jesus’ invitation, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” (Luke 5:8 MKJV). These were words Peter wished he could have taken back. The memory of that day gave Peter the strength and determination to dedicate his life to Jesus.
The disciples knew the road they would travel will be full of temptations and trials. Logic told them they needed to concentrate on how to avoid and over come the trials and temptations. They knew worrying about them would do no good at all. With their minds focused on the word root, they knew it represented their dedication. Their minds were drawn to the words of Solomon. “A man shall not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.” (Proverbs 12:3 MKJV). They knew they had to be rooted in Jesus’ words and on the scriptures He taught.
Jesus walked to the edge of the clearing to a path of thorns growing just outside of the woods where He broke off a section of a thorn bush as long as His arm. Standing in front of the thorns and trees, He held up the crooked branch with long pointed thorns sticking out in all directions as He spoke, “that sown into the thorns is this: he who hears the Word; and the anxiety of this world, and the deceit of riches, choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
The thorns had one meaning to Jesus, and another for His disciples. The thorns reminded Jesus of what He knew He had to suffer. Some of the disciples were immediately drawn to the consequences of the first sin in the garden. “And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life. It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18 MKJV). This instantly brought to mind a whole new light upon the curse in Eden. It not only applied to the ground, but everyone would face trials in whatever occupation the worked at.
Others thought of scripture that identified people as thorns. “I will not drive them out from before you, but they shall be thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. (Judges 2:3 MKJV) They could see how people living outside of God’s will cause trials which bring anxiety to others. Each of the disciples had personally experienced people bringing trials into their lives. They considered those trials and how they had become such distractions, they could not work, it effected family life, and other aspects in their lives. They could see how these distractions made them unfruitful in the past, and how they could effect their future ministries.
Seeing the expressions on their faces, Jesus knew they were really thinking about everything they had just learned. After a few moments, Jesus answered the question he knew was on their mind, “that sown on the good ground is this: he who hears the Word and understands; who also bears fruit and produces one truly a hundredfold; and one sixty; and one thirty.”
They all knew the seed represented the Word, and the ground the heart. They began to realize the Word needed to go past the ears into the heart. If the heart would not open, Words could not have the proper effect. The Word only has an effect when it reaches the heart and is applied, shared. The seed when planted in a fertile heart produces more seed. The Word must be shared. One person tells another, and another, until thirty, sixty, and a hundred people share in the experience of the Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit.