Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Parable of the Sower

The Gospel of Matthew is probably the key Gospel to the Bible, and chapter 13 is the key to this Gospel; therefore this chapter is very important. 

It provides us with a better understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven than any other passage. 

Here, Jesus for the first time speaks in parables; called the Mystery Parables. 

His teaching reveals the condition of the Kingdom of Heaven in our present time. 

Now, what I mean by the Kingdom of Heaven, is God’s rule over the entire earth; the manner in which He is carrying out His program for mankind. 

Today it’s a program; but when Jesus comes the second time, He will put down all unrighteousness and rebellion, and He will establish His Kingdom right here on earth.

And He will rule and reign forever. 

Remember, Jesus followed John the Baptist in preaching “,….. Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) 

And Jesus talked about the laws that would be applied to that Kingdom, when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. 

Then He demonstrated, through miracles, that He had the power to rule the kingdom; after which He sent His disciples out with the message. 

The message was met with rejection-Israel rejected its King. 

Therefore, Our Lord handed down a judgment against the cities where His mighty works had been done, and He also pronounced judgment against the religious rulers. 

When they asked Him for a sign, He said that no sign would be given them, except that of Jonah. 

He was speaking of His resurrection, and they were to have that fulfilled in Christ shortly after this. 

Finally, He gave a very personal invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) 

Now the question arises: What will happen to the Kingdom of Heaven? 

It is apparent that He will not establish it on the earth at His first coming. 

So what will happen to the Kingdom of Heaven during the interval between His suffering on the cross and His glory that will be revealed at His second coming? 

Well in the Mystery Parables, and there are eight of them, He sets forth the Kingdom of Heaven conditions on earth during this interval; the time in which we are currently living.

They are called Mystery Parables because in the Word of God a mystery is something hidden or secret up to a certain time and then revealed. 

According to this definition, the church is a mystery, since it was not revealed in the Old Testament. 

It was revealed after the death and resurrection of Christ. 

Actually, there could be no church until Christ died and rose again. 

Ephesians 5:25 says that “…..Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” 

Other mysteries are Christ’s incarnation, His intersession for us, our justification and sanctification, and indeed the whole work of redemption. 

These things are difficult to understand, but are made clearer by the action of the Holy Spirit. 

Those lacking the Holy Spirit, are numb to spiritual things, so they think they are tall tales or just entertainment.

The Mystery Parables show the course of the kingdom after it had been offered, and then rejected by Israel. 

They reveal what is going to take place between the time of Christ’s rejection, and the time when He returns to earth as King. 

With these parables, Our Lord covers the entire period between his rejection by Israel and His return to the earth to establish his Kingdom; therefore these parables are very important.
 
As we begin reading chapter 13, notice that Jesus’ actions are extremely interesting, for it says, “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.” (v. 1,2)

He did not have a house of His own, and He did not have a chapel of His own to preach in. 

By this He teaches us not to desire the external surroundings of worship, such as a large building, and beautiful grounds, but to make the best of the facilities that God gives us. 

That’s what we are doing here at Laurens Memorial Home, and I am grateful that God has given us comfortable chairs, a podium, a piano and clean walls and floors. 

But to God, we are the church, and it is our worship, obedience, faithfulness and love that matters.

But note the symbolism here, The same day went Jesus out of the house,” which speaks of the house of Israel. 

“And sat by the sea side,”–the sea represents the gentile nations (a symbolism used elsewhere in scripture). 

Our Lord is leaving the nation of Israel and turning to the world. 

He is now speaking of what will take place in the world until He returns as king. 

This act denotes a tremendous change that has taken place in His ministry. 

Great multitudes were gathered together to hear him, and He went into a ship and began to talk to them as they stood on the shore. 

“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” (v. 3)  

In this parable our Lord answers a very obvious and a very important question. 

The same sower, Christ, and the same preachers sent by Him, always sow the same seed: so why doesn’t it always have the same effect? 

Why doesn’t this seed do as well in one place as in another? 

Christ said publicly through this parable that the reason for this is that men for the most part, either do not receive it, or do not permit it to ripen. 

Let’s go ahead and look at Christ’s interpretation of sower. 

He will tell us later that the sower is the Son of man, the name that Jesus applied to himself, and that the seed represents the Word of God. 

When He continued His teaching, He said, “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And 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 sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (v. 4-8)

Sowing seed is a familiar sight in Palestine.  They  sort of scratch the surface of the ground with a very crude plow.  Sometimes they didn’t even do that much. 

Then the sower would go out and fling the seed upon the earth. 

Even today in our land in the springtime, all the way from California to South Carolina, and from Minnesota to Florida, you will see farmers sowing wheat, corn and barley. 

It is a very familiar sight-of course; we use machines to sow the seed, while in that day it was sown by hand.

As I have mentioned, the sower represents the Lord Jesus, and all whom He sends forth to preach are sowers under Him. 

He is the one sowing the seed, and I believe that defines his work in the world today. 

He is the King, but He laid aside his regal robes and today He is doing the work of a farmer, sowing seed-but he is still the King.

The seed represents the Word of God. 

The field symbolizes the world. 

Notice that it is the world, not the church. 

We are talking about the state of affairs of our world. 

I think the picture is something like this: Here is the church in the world, and outside there are multitudes of people who have not received Christ. 

The Word of God is given to this one, and the word is given to that one, and the word is given to another. 

One accepts, another does not accept. 

Our business is to sow the seed, although not everyone will receive it.

The Lord Jesus has charge of this program of sowing seed. 

He has given me a little corner to work in, and my business is to sow seed here at the Memorial Home. 

I want to be specific here. 

This is the day for sowing seed. 

I don’t want to split hairs, but the “harvest” is not the picture for today. 

But someone says, “Didn’t Christ say, ‘Pray ye therefore the lord of the harvest’?” 

Yes, and let’s look at it again.  Matthew 9:36-38 reads, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.  Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”  

This passage occurs just before the Lord sent out His apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

The age of the law was coming to an end. 

Harvest time comes after seed has been sown. 

For fifteen hundred years, approximately, under Law, the seed had been sown. 

Then the harvest came, and a new age, a new dispensation, came in. 

At the close of one age there is a harvest, at the beginning of another age there is the sowing of seed. 

But I want to emphasize that the harvest at the end of an age is judgment. 

The final judgment of God, where He will separate His sheep from the goats is still in the future; He will at that time, harvest the souls of all men and women and deliver them into a heavenly home, or to everlasting torment.

However, in our age, we are sowing the seed of the Word of God. 

Some people, when they hear the Word of God are immediately changed, and others will listen every week for years before they receive it into their hearts, and some never will. 

It is my business to sow the seed into the world, and if you are a child of God that is your business too.

Now notice where the seed falls. 

It falls on four types of soil, and three fourths of the seeds do not grow-they die. 

There is nothing wrong with the seed, but the soil is the problem. 

The condition of the soil is all important as far as the seed is concerned.

Now let’s look at how Jesus interpreted the types of soil on which the seed fell. 

He said that some of it fell by the wayside, and the birds came and ate it up. 

This is how He explained it to His disciples. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” (v.19) 

The birds represent the evil one-the Devil takes away the seed sown by the wayside. 

This is something that ought to cause every church member to examine his own heart. 

Friends, don’t apply this to the other person, apply it to you. 

Someone has written a clever little poem which says:

When you get to heaven
You will likely view,
Many folk there
Who’ll be a shock to you.

But don’t be surprised
Or even show a care,
For they might be a little shocked
To see you there.

The wayside soil apparently represents church members; professing Christians. 

They heard the word of God, but it was not the hearing of faith. 

The word was not mixed with faith-or if it was, it was a formal, intellectual faith which simply nodded the head. 

In other words, to people like this, Christianity is a sideline. 

Belonging to the church is like belonging to a lodge or club. 

These people are in deep freeze. 

Not only do we find them in our churches, but some of them have fallen away from the church and are in cults and “isms.”

The second group is represented by rocky soil.  “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (v. 20, 21) 

These rocky ground people are the opposite of the first group. 

It was the Devil who took the word away from the wayside hearers, but the flesh is the culprit with this group. 

Instead of being in deep freeze, they are in the oven-warm, emotional, shedding tears, greatly moved. 

They might be called Alka-Seltzer Christians. 

There is a lot of fizz in them. 

They make as much fuss during a service as a rocket on a launching pad, but they never get into orbit. 

They have a great deal of energy during special services, but they are like burned out Roman candles after the service is over.

Have you ever watched a piece of paper being blown about by a breeze? 

As soon as the breeze stops, it lays dead still. 

That is just like a lot of so-called Christians. 

When there is a sensational service going on they get all enthusiastic, but they have no relationship with Christ. 

It is just an emotional high. 

They are the rocky-ground people. 

The third group of hearers is like thorny ground-“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (v. 22) 

With these people, the world crowds out the Word of God. 

The Devil got the wayside people, and the flesh took care of the rocky-ground people, but the world chokes out the Word for this class of hearers. 

The cares of the world move in. 

Sometimes it is poverty, and other times it is the deceitfulness of riches. 

It is quite interesting to note that people at each end of the social spectrum-extreme poverty and extreme prosperity-are people who are most difficult to reach for Christ. 

A great many people have let the cares of the world crowd out the Word of God. 

Those three types of soil do not represent three types of believers-they are not believers at all. 

They have heard the Word and have only professed to receive it. 

My friends, it is well for all of us to examine ourselves to see, whether or not we are really in the faith.

Thank God some seed falls on good ground, and our Lord interprets this for us-“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (v. 23) 

These are hearers who receive the Word (the Gospel) and understand it. 

Some of them don’t bring forth much fruit-only thirtyfold, but some bring forth a hundredfold.

There must be an understanding of the Word. 

The Ethiopian eunuch, you remember, was reading the Word, but he didn’t understand it. 

So the Spirit of God put Philip there as a hitchhiker. 

He took a ride with the Ethiopian and gave him a ticket to heaven. 

He explained the Word to him-that the one who was led as a sheep to the slaughter was the Lord Jesus Christ; that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. 

The Ethiopian believed and received Him.

Philip was sowing the seed of the Word of God. 

This is a Kingdom-of-Heaven situation; since it reveals the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is sowing the seed of the Word of God in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies it to the hearts of those who want to believe.

After giving the parable of the sower, Jesus had some quite interesting things to say.

“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” 

Well, if we have these things on the side of our heads called ears, can’t we hear Him? 

Yes, but notice the question and his answer-“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” (v. 10) 

The disciples knew how to get the parables explained to them, but they also wanted the people to understand them. 

Someone has said that a parable is an earthly story, with a heavenly meaning. 

This is a good definition. 

But His disciples  asked why did He do it; why did He speak in parables?  Well this is how he answered them: “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (v. 11) 

If a man wants to know the Word of God, he can know it. 

He, who wants to know the truth, can know it. 

But you can shut your ears to it. 

There are multitudes of so-called broadminded people who shut their ears to the Word of God. 

If you don’t want to hear it, you won’t hear it. 

Not only would you fail to hear it, but you wouldn’t understand it if you did hear it. 

You must have the kind of ear that wants to hear the Word of God. 

Verse 12 says, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”  

God uses the same rule in dispensing understanding as he does with all of His other gifts; He bestows them on those who improve them, but takes them away from those who bury them. 

If you know a little truth, and you want to know more, the Lord will add to it. 

If you don’t want to know the truth, the Lord will see to it that you won’t get it. 

You see, the Lord will never shut the door to one who wants to hear. 

He makes it very clear that this is His reason for speaking in parables. 

Those who don’t want to hear them will not understand them.

The Lord drew His parables from commonplace things, things that were at the fingertips of the people in that day. 

He gave them great spiritual truths illustrated by things that they knew and could see. 

Someone has put this concept in verse-

He talked of grass and wind and rain
And fig trees and fair weather,
And made it His delight to bring
Heaven and earth together.

He spoke of lilies, vines and corn,
The sparrow and the raven.
And words so natural, yet so wise
Were on men’s hearts engraven
.

In the parable of the sower, we see what could be called a Kingdom-of-Heaven condition; that is, it exhibits God’s present ruler-ship over the entire earth as He calls out a people to His name. 

And God is carrying out His program today through the church, the called-out body, composed of every true believer. 

Therefore, we have a Kingdom-of-Heaven condition today as God is carrying on His program of bringing people to a saving knowledge of Christ.

I hope that you are good soil; that you have a good and honest heart, one that will receive and retain the truth, for in such a heart the Word of God will grow, and there will be new life. 

Jesus told Nocodemus about this new life, when he told him, “…..Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) 

You have heard the Gospel; you know that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. 

If you have not done so, I would invite you to ask him to forgive your sins and to come into your heart. 

Please let me know if you would like for me to pray with you. 

Now let’s close in prayer.

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