Summary: To respond actively and concretely is to be within the pupose and plan of God.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year producing t-v commercials with the
hope that people will watch and listen to their commercials and be persuaded to buy their products.
We are bombarded with messages like:
“What would you do for a Klondike bar?”
“Aren’t you glad you used Dial?”
“You deserve a break today.”
“Because so much is riding on your tires.”
“Oh what a feeling--to drive a Toyota!”
“We run the tightest ship in the shipping business.”....
...and the list could go on and on.
The business world knows that most people don’t just automatically actively listen.
Most of us mistakenly assume that listening is easy, but evidence proves otherwise.
Just think about the differing perceptions that persons who attend the same meeting might have.
Each person will remember it differently, and this can be true even in family discussions.
After the conversation, one person might say to the other, “but you said....,”
to which the other person might reply, “I didn’t say that.”
Active listening is an important skill that can have great value in our human relationships, and in our
relationship with God.
In our parable for this morning, Jesus makes it clear that we need to be active listeners to God’s Word.
And as part of God’s creation, you and I are created with the capacity to listen to God...
....But how well do we listen?
Jesus was pressed by the crowds as He stood beside the Sea of Galilee and taught.
He was forced to use a small fishing boat as His pulpit, and from that vantage point--He could not only
see the crowd, but he also saw a farmer sowing seed on some nearby hills.
The rest of the parable is about the soil.
The seed was all the same.
But the ground into which those seeds fell was not all the same.
This parable helped the disciples to understand why some people recieved the Word of Christ and others
The disciples were so thrilled and glowing about the saving message of Christ, but they just could not
understand why everyone else was not just as excited as they were!
And this can often happen to us as well.
When I finally understood and accepted the message of Christ it was like a thunderbolt had gone off in my
head---overcoming the darkness---suddenly I could see! It was all so crystal clear!
My first thoughts were, well, when I tell others about this great discovery they will be just as excited
about it as I am.
In most cases, this did not happen.
Why does the gospel seem to fail so often in our time?
Why does it seem to fail at any time?
Jesus knew the reasons all too well.
He knew human nature.
He was not about to force people to believe in Him, and no matter how bright the truth shown through
....many people would simply never respond!
But there is a central truth which makes this parable a wellspring of hope....and it is found in verse 8:
“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
This is what makes everything worthwhile!
This is why we are called to sow seed!...
...Because there is fertile ground!!!
There are people out there who have not heard the message, but they are ready.
There are people living pitiable lives who would be more than willing to give their lives to Christ and join
a church--if only we would tell them!
Now, the four kinds of soil described in Christ’s parable can be thought of as referring to four kinds of
hearts--four different ways of hearing and responding to the God who speaks.
All the soil is essentially the same earth.
It’s what has happened to the soil or what has been added to the soil to distort it’s purpose.
And it’s the same with our hearts!
What kind of soil is your heart and my heart?
Jesus tells us that some of the seed fell on the trodden path.
The soil was hard and impenetrable.
The seeds danced on the surface.
The birds descended and plucked up a ready meal.
Both the seed and the soil needed each other, but there was no productive contact.
This soil represents the hard-hearted listener---the person who has closed his or her mind, refusing to
discern or hear the will of God.
As the Bible says: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
These people fail to realize how important the Word of God is to life. They just feel that they can get
along without the Word of God.