Summary: It’s one thing to hear the Word of God, but listeners must receive the Word of God and let it take root in their life.
What Kind of Receiver are You?
Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
Even though we’re not quite there yet, fall is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year…Mainly because of football season! So in honor of this special time of year, I want to use some football imagery over the next couple of weeks to help me explain the importance of trusting God wholeheartedly.
As I was preparing today’s message, I got to thinking that there’s a lot of really good books out there that teach pastor’s how to deliver a good sermon. But I’ve never seen any books that teach listener's how to receive a sermon. The sad reality is that most people just show up on Sunday morning because it’s what they’re supposed to do. They open their Bibles (if they brought it), take a few notes and fill out the outline provided in the bulletins (if they can stay awake long enough), and say amen every once in while (just to prove that they’re not sleeping). If a person comes to church and they accomplish all these things, they think to themselves, “Hey, I’ve done something good here today!” But there’s so much more involved when it comes to properly receiving the Word of God.
It’s one thing to hear the Word of God, but listeners must receive the Word of God and let it take root in their life. So this morning, I want to focus on one of the most well-known parables in all of Scripture titled “The Parable of the Sower”. In this parable, Jesus describes four different types of “receivers.”
Read Matthew 13:1-9
This is actually the first parable of Jesus recorded in Scripture and it kicks off a whole series of parables throughout the rest of Matthew’s gospel. (This is proof that preaching series is a good idea!) The word parable means “to lay beside” and so it carries this idea of laying two things beside each other in order to teach a spiritual truth. So then, parables are stories that reveal truth. These stories were designed to not only be unforgettable, but also bring meaning to those who were serious about listening to the Lord. But for those who refused to listen, they were sometimes difficult to understand.
Notice verse 9: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Fortunately for us, we don’t have to guess about the meaning of this parable because Jesus explains it beginning in verse 19.
But before we begin, let’s put this passage in its cultural context. While Jesus is teaching, it’s quite possible that there were some farmers nearby out in their fields doing some planting. So Jesus lays the foundation of this parable with something that they all understand, but then He moves into something that they don’t in order to reveal truth. Everyone back then understood how seed sowing worked. A farmer would have a leather pouch over his shoulders filled with seed and would walk down paths in his field slinging the seed out, much like we do when planting grass seed. This seed would end up in all sorts of soil, some good, and some not-so-good.
Alright, so we’ve already read what happened when the farmer sowed the seed. Now I want to move over to verses 19-23 to see how Jesus ties each type of soul to a type of receiver. These four soils represent four different responses to the Word of God.
The Intercepted (v. 19)
Fields in Palenstine were very small and they were usually separated by a narrow path used by the farmers and animals. The seed that fell onto this hardened ground couldn’t penetrate the soil so it just lay there, out in the open, until the birds would come by and intercept them. In our culture, it wouldn’t be any different if you were to throw seed on the road.
This is like the quarterback throwing the ball to the receiver, but because the receiver is casual in his approach, the ball gets intercepted. It represents those who are able to hear the Word of God, but it has no impact on their life. It may be that they’re stuck so deep in their sin that they refuse to believe. It may be that they are calloused and cold toward the things of God and they refuse to hear. They don’t understand the Word of God. They don’t understand the connection between it’s claims and their own personal life. This is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons. He loves to create confusion in the minds of unbelievers so that they won’t respond to the word of God.
Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (Lk. 8:12).