Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus wants to produce life in you and through you. His number one desire is healing the one thing that can stop you—a calloused heart.

Healing for Calloused Hearts

Matthew 13:1-23

Pastor Jim Luthy

Let’s try a few riddles from justriddlesandmore.com. Write down your answers and I’ll give the solutions at the end.

1. Cathy has six pairs of black gloves and six pairs of brown gloves in her drawer. In complete darkness, how many gloves must she take from the drawer in order to be sure to get a pair that match? Think carefully!!

2. What is the largest possible number you can write using only two digits – just two digits, nothing else?

3. In your sock drawer, you have a ratio of 5 pairs of blue socks, 4 pairs of brown socks, and 6 pairs of black socks. In complete darkness, how many socks would you need to pull out to be sure to get a matching pair of the same color?

4. A woman goes into a hardware store to buy something for her house. When asked the price, the clerk replies, “The price of one is twelve cents. The price of forty-four is twenty-four cents, and the price of a hundred and forty-four is thirty-six cents.” What does the woman want to buy?

The answers…

1. 13. She could take out 6 black left hand gloves and then 6 brown right hand gloves before the next would have to match.

2. 387,420,489 or 99.

3. 4. Unlike the gloves, socks don’t require a fit for the left or right foot.

4. House numbers.

In our next encounter on our long walk with Jesus, he is going to tell the Parable of the Sower. This parable is not a riddle, but like a riddle, the story will leave it up to the audience to figure out what it means.

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 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." (Matt 13:1-9; NIV)

In the parable, Jesus is telling of his experience sowing the seed of God’s kingdom. His message was almost exclusively about the good news of the kingdom of heaven. As he traveled the countryside sharing the message, there were many who believed him and became his followers and others who did not. Notice carefully that Jesus told this parable and then left it to the crowd to figure out what he meant. I picture Jesus here as a user-friendly version of Batman’s archenemy, the Riddler. Why did Jesus do that? The disciples wanted to know.

The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (Matt 13:10-13; NIV)

I think an illustration from my life as a fingerprint examiner might illustrate Jesus’ answer. Spreading the good news of the kingdom is much like dusting for fingerprints. When I came to an object to look for prints, I would begin with a visual inspection of the area. Then I would dust over a broad area, looking for prints to begin developing. If I saw something that looked like fingerprints, I would focus my development on that area. I would breath on it to add moisture to the print. Then I would dust over that area again and again, allowing the powder to adhere to the moisture on the print. When the fingerprint appeared to be fully developed, I would lift the print with tape and put it on a contrasting background for preservation.

Jesus came and spread his message broadly throughout Israel. As he shared his message, he looked for those who were able to understand his teaching. These were the ones prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive ears to hear what Jesus was saying. That is why Jesus ended his parable saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Those who could hear became his followers, and as his followers they would be given even more.

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