Welcome to Part 2 of 'Kingdom Life - Understanding the Kingdom of God through the Parables of Jesus'. This week, we are starting our study on one of Jesus' most foundational parables; The Parable of the Sower. Have your Bibles ready because there are lots of references and they're not all written out here (so you can look them up yourself - it's good for you!).
It really ought to be called the Parable of the Soils. Why? Because the condition of the soil is the most important factor. The Lord is the sower. The seed is the Word of God. The ground is our heart. The birds represent the devil.
Notice that the seed never changes. The only thing that changes is the condition of the soil. John 6:63 says; It is the Spirit who gives life; theflesh profits nothing. Thewords that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. The Words that Jesus speaks are spirit and life. The seed represents that Word. It has spirit and life in it. Peter calls the Word ‘an incorruptible seed’ (1 Peter 1:23).
But the seed must go into soil or it won’t produce anything. The soil is the human heart and the Word has to enter it before transformation can take place.
Think of it this way; your heart is God’s farm! God has the seed and wants to grow things in you. But guess what, you are the farmer. We're all given the same amount of land. Our potential to believe and bear fruit for God is all the same. And we have the very best seed in the world. It’s up to us to prepare the ground and tend to the seed.
Unfortunately, there are obstacles we encounter as we try to be good farmers for God. The types of soil Jesus refers to in this parable are the different stages that we all can go through in life. I’ve experienced all these stages in my life and continue to do so but (hopefully) less and less as I grow in my relationship with the Lord.
So, if the Word/Seed stays the same, let's look at the changing element in this parable; the soil. Firstly, we get 'the wayside', or the path.
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
The wayside, the path, is the proud heart. It cannot understand the Word of God. Jesus says that the devil comes immediately and steals away the seed (the Word of God). It’s not received or understood but it's hardened and proud. Therefore, the birds devour it up and steal it away. The devil comes immediately and takes away what was sown in their hearts. In the garden of Eden, Satan sowed the seed of pride into Adam and Eve by telling them they could ‘be like God’. Why is Satan so keen to steal the word? Read Romans 10:17 and it's obvious why!
The wayside heart never receives the word and therefore can’t understand it which means they won’t accept it. Not understanding can mean all sorts of things. There are lots of natural reasons like not understanding the actual words themselves, missing the point because you were distracted, and many other reasons. But I want to focus on the spiritual reason: Pride.
Humility and a sincere desire for truth will mean you understand the Word. Matthew 18:3-4; Jesus talks about being a little child. A little child doesn't care that they don't know all the answers, he just trusts his parents and asks them. Jesus says it right here in Matthew 13:10-15; God is willing and able to bring revelation to all, but those who’ve closed their eyes and ears are not able to receive it. 1 John 1:6-9; it’s the same principle. If you walk in honesty and transparency, you’re walking in the light and in fellowship with God. Religion causes us to harden our hearts which then blocks us from hearing with spiritual ears.
Luke 18:13-14 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The wayside is the proud person who cannot receive the word so Satan comes to steal it. Satan has always been trying to steal the Word. Right from the beginning in Genesis 3 we see the devil questioning; "Has God said?" He attacked or appealed to Adam and Eve's pride. He succeeded with them. But Satan failed when he tried the same thing with Jesus in Matthew 4. He showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Him if He would only bow down and worship him. Of course, Jesus didn't fail. Hallelujah!
This is such an important spiritual principle for us. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 we find that the Jews and Greeks were prideful. They had rejected the message because it required humility. To come to the Word, receive it and understand it, we have to humble ourselves. If we think we have the answers, that we are in charge and we've got it all figured out, we will miss it! The message of the cross is offensive to the prideful. You can’t do it on your own! You need a Saviour. That’s offensive to pride. But a humble heart allows revelation to come. The openness of a humble heart allows the word (the seed) to take root and bring about great fruit.
So that’s the first kind of ground. Next week we’re going to talk about the next kind of ground. Don't miss it!
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