Summary: Jesus gives us four basic types of response to the message of God’s kingdom. Which type of ground most resembles your spiritual walk?
Parables of Jesus
Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23
May 17, 2009
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this parable is the parable of parables. It is the certainly a huge key in understanding what Jesus is teaching about God’s kingdom and what God expects of us in response to the message that God’s kingdom has come. This parable explains the meaning behind the words as well as why Jesus uses parables, which we focused on two weeks ago. Parables are prophetic. Jesus is using parables to speak God’s word plainly and clearly to reveal where the listener stands. The listener by the way includes us as well as the disciples, Pharisees, and Jews. Parables are a way to challenge us and to call us to respond to God’s call upon our lives. It is a call to live a life of discipleship: following the ways of Jesus. This is why I speak in terms of following Jesus rather than being a Christian as many times in our Western culture as just being a good person and even a good citizen is the definition of a Christian, which Jesus radically and clearly challenged.
7 year-old Jessica heard the story of Adam and Eve and how because they had disobeyed God, sin entered the world affecting everything. This sin causes all kinds of problems including diseases and sickness.
Well, as it would have it, Jessica came down with a cold during the week. In fact, she had to stay home from school on Thursday. Feeling absolutely miserable she remarked to her mom, “If only Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, I wouldn’t be sick.”
“That’s right, honey,” her mom responded.
But real quickly Jessica added, “But if they didn’t eat it, we would be sitting here naked.”
And I guess that is true, that we would be sitting here naked, which is direction we just don’t want to go.
This week, I want to focus on the actual parable. It is a huge parable and has played a very special part in the spiritual lives of hundreds of thousands of people over the last couple of millennia including myself.
This parable has been extremely formational. It is a constant reminder to examine myself and my walk and ask the hard question, “Which type of soil truly characterizes me and my life?”
Let’s refresh our memories of the parable:
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear."
Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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."
Jesus tells us that there four basic responses to the message of the kingdom. Interestingly three of the four, receive the word of Jesus and the message of the kingdom favorably. I really think that these four responses still hold true today. Yes, there are variations partly because our context is different but we still see the same responses today.
1. The path
Jesus is very clear that there are people (perhaps plenty of people) who just have no place for God and God’s way in their lives. For whatever reason they reject the message completely. Maybe they have no need for God. Maybe they have been hurt by “the church” and therefore reject the notion of a God (which is different from those that might reject the church). They may or may not be atheists. They just don’t have the time or need or the patience to really place God and God’s way as an important part of their lives.