Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23
Over the past week I have been pondering on the parable the Lord gives in Matthew 13 regarding sowing seed. In this parable a farmer goes out and begins to sow seed. This parable was one that could easily be understood. It was a common sight in Palestine to see a farmer out casting seed. The farmer in this day would go out, scratch up the ground a little bit, and begin to cast their seed. Jesus uses this parable to explain the gospel message.
In this one story there are four pictures. Let’s consider a few things quickly.
We see the picture of the seed falling by the wayside in verse four. According to the verse as soon as this seed is sown it is devoured by the fowls of the air. The Lord later explains to His disciples that this is a picture of a man or a woman who hears the word of God but they do not understand what they have heard. Because they do not understand the word preached to them the evil one comes in quickly and steals the seed away.
The reality is that there are times when we present the word of God to someone and they are not ready to receive it. I believe that it should be our goal to present Christ in a simple fashion that everyone can understand. Even though we present the gospel in a simple fashion we must never forget that it is only with the aid of the Holy Spirit that a man or woman can understand the message. Therefore we must season our lives, our messages, and our testimonies with prayer. Pray that the Holy Spirit will prepare the heart of those that you are going to share the gospel with. Pray that their hearts and minds will be opened so that the seed of God’s word does not fall on deaf ears.
The second picture is of a farmer’s seed falling on stony places. This seed quickly brings forth fruit but the fruit is not lasting. It does not take the sun long to burn up this fruit because there is no root system producing life in the plant. In verse twenty and twenty-one we learn that this is a picture of a man or woman who hears the word of God, receives it with joy, quickly produces some kind of fruit, but the fruit does not last.
I have been in church and around church for several years and have seen many of these “quick fruit” believers. (I use the word believer loosely.) These are men and women who come into our churches needing help. They are lost. They are hurting. They need help. After the message is delivered they rush down to an altar, but when an altar worker asks them about salvation you usually hear something like this, “Oh I’m saved. I just need to pray that the Lord helps me with…”
These men and women cry, pray, and leave rejoicing that they got some help in church. The trouble comes when life turns up the temperature on them during the week and you don’t see them again for some time. It should not surprise you when that type of “believer” comes and goes. The only thing that we can do for this person is continue to preach the gospel to them. Eventually God will “break up the fallow ground” of their heart. When this happens they will realize their need of salvation and at that time the seed will take roots. These roots will keep them going no matter how hot and hard life gets.
Thirdly we read about seed sown among thorny ground. This is a picture of someone hearing the word of God, but there is something in their life that prevents them from receiving it. Throughout the scriptures we read of men and women using all sorts of excuses for not following Christ. To some it was money. To some it was family. To others it was their spouse. Whatever the reason this is someone who simply will not receive the gospel because of the cares of this life.
There is not a lot that we can do for this type of person. Often this person will not accept Christ until something catastrophic happens in their life. Maybe it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or some sort of health problem. Something has to happen in their life to get their eyes off of this world and onto Christ. The only thing that we can do is pray that the Lord allows us to be there when they hit the bottom.
Finally we read about seed sown on good ground. This seed finds the ground prepared, roots take, and real fruit comes forth. Of course this is a picture of someone whose heart has been prepared by the Holy Spirit, the gospel has been presented to them in a simple fashion, and they truly accept the Lord into their lives. It is our job to rejoice when these people accept Christ.
In these illustrations there are a few things we can take away.
- We need to be sowing seed. The world is filled with men and women who need to hear the gospel. The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few.
- Realize that all you can do is all you can do. The Lord wants you to be busy telling others about Him, but He also wants you to realize that unless He does His part real fruit cannot be produced. I can twist someones arm into praying but will that really take root? Don’t forget to make room for the Holy Spirit.
- Don’t get discouraged. Three-fourths of the people in this parable did not receive the gospel to salvation. There was nothing wrong with the farmer and there was nothing wrong with the seed. The reality is that no matter how hard you work there will be many turn and walk away never accepting your seed. Do not let this discourage you. Every once in a while you will sow that seed and a miracle will take place, and new life will come forth.
Get out and sow some seed!