a) The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23)
1 On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside. 2 Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach. 3 He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, a farmer went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn’t have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. 6 When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:1-9, Luke 8:4-8)
In the third collection of the sermons of Christ, the evangelist Matthew tells us of Christ’s wonderful style of preaching. He had already explained the constitution of the kingdom of heaven in chapters 5-7, and told about the spreading of this spiritual kingdom in chapter 10. Now he shows the secrets of its growth in chapter 13. At the same time he explains the motives for the separation of those who refused Him. The parables are answers to those who harden their hearts against Christ and His heavenly Father.
Jesus simplified His teaching using excellent parables that required careful examination and thinking. He prevented His enemies from easily understanding His intentions, but, at the same time, explained to His followers the meaning of the parables. Christ did not dig deeply into His explanation at His first meeting with listeners, but presented to them the principles and followed up later with the details.
A parable sometimes signifies a weighty saying that is instructive. Here in the gospels it signifies a continued similitude or comparison by which spiritual or heavenly secrets were described in language borrowed from the realities of this life. It was a common way of teaching, not only by the Jewish rabbis, but also by the Arabians and other wise men of the east. It was found profitable and pleasant. In using it, our Savior reached down to the level of His listeners and spoke to them in their own “language.”
There were a great number of people gathered in Capernaum, causing Him to move a boat a little away from the seaside to enable all the people to see and hear Him. His companions had the privilege of hearing His comments about the parables by themselves. In this way the Lord prepared His disciples for their apostolic service and future preaching.
He that hears His word and does not follow it – in spite of God’s call to him in his heart and in spite of the gentle drawing from the Holy Spirit – will not hear it any more. He will gradually lose the ability of spiritual hearing, turn away from the fellowship of saints, and fall into many sins as a result of choosing to disobey. He will get more and more involved in the chains of darkness until he finally rejects his Savior, blasphemes against Him, and hates Him. He that does not willingly open his soul to the Spirit of God and follow His call, will gradually be filled with the spirit of the wicked one that flows in him through thousands of ways. Thus his last opportunity to commit himself to Christ will pass away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Where do you stand in this spiritual development? Are you on the way to heaven? Or down to hell? Christ wants you in spite of your sins. He calls you in person to accept His word that gives life. We ask you in the name of Christ, “Come to Him, because He loves you, attracts you, heals you, and has the ability to save you to the uttermost.”
PRAYER: Father, You know my heart. Forgive my hard-heartedness against Your love. Make me prepared to hear Your gospel with interest that my spiritual life may grow and that I may follow Your Son unconditionally, and never turn away from Him, but cling to Him all the time. I want to be purified by His power and sanctified by the fullness of Your glory as all those that are prepared to hear Your sayings at all times.
QUESTION 130: Write the rule for spiritual increase and decrease, and then explain it.