052 – Hearing the Word (The Parable of the Sower)

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The Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God over his people. Jesus uses parables to illustrate the nature and life of the Kingdom and our role in it. Here, we discuss The Parable of the Sower, which Jesus uses to draw people out of a curious crowd and into serious discipleship. There multiple ways to respond to the Kingdom, but ultimately only one gives life.

Matthew 13:1-23

Isaiah 6:9-13

Colossians 1:25-27

Automated transcript:

We are beginning a series this morning

called parables of Jesus. It’s that simple. And these are these are basically sayings of Jesus stories of Jesus illustrations of Jesus that are meant to give us a deeper glimpse of the kingdom of God. And so I don’t know what you guys I’ve grown up hearing some weird sayings, especially being in the south.

I’ve come from a family that’s would know they’re definitely redneck.

And I grew up here my dad say things like this, more than

one way to skin that cat

who’s skinny cats?

And I never understood that saying another one we used to hear all the time when I asked my dad for something he would say no. And I asked him again, you’d say no, and he goes, quit beating that dead horse.

Who’s beating Dead Horses?

They should stop that

was another one. Oh, this is this one’s the one that Christy and I we still have problems with to this day. It’s deeply affected us.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Who is getting a cake and not being able to eat it?

Those are problems that should be resolved quickly.

I don’t understand these things.

Those are more pithy sayings.

Jesus offers stories and illustrations of a deep life altering significance that are known as the parable

And what I want us to do is we’re going to read through the text. And I want you to keep the goal of this series in mind, the goal of the series is to better understand the nature of the kingdom of God, and our role in the kingdom of God, what the kingdom of God is like, what it is and what it’s not. So with that, Matthew 13, one through 23. Pay attention to some words, hopefully, you feel a little discomforted and a little bit of what

it has that effect in the parables already working.

So let’s read. On that day, Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. such large crowds gathered around him and

gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down

while the whole crowd stood there on the shore. Then he told him many things in parables saying consider the sower who went out to sow as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seed fell

rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it. Still Other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit. So hundreds of 60 some 30 times what was sown. Let anyone who has ears listen.

Then the disciples came and asked him, What are you speaking to them in parables? He answered, because the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven have been given for you to know. But it has not been given to them. For whoever has more will be given to Him and He will have more than enough.

But whoever does not have even what he has will be taken away from them. That is why I speak to them in parables because looking they do not see and hearing they do not listen or understand Isaiah

prophecy is fulfilled in them which says, You will listen but never understand you will look and look but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing and they have shut their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn back and I would heal them. Blessed are your eyes because they do see and your ears because they do here. For truly I tell you many prophets and righteous people how long to see the things you see but did not see them to hear the things you hear but did not hear them.

So listen to the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word about the kingdom, and and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one that was sown along the path. And the ones sown on rocky ground. This is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.

But he has no roots and it is short lived.

When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately, he falls away.

Now the ones sown among thorns. This one

who hears the is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground. This is the one who hears and understands the word who does not produce fruit, and yields

some 160 some 30

times what was sown. Let’s pray God, we thank you for your word. Help will be sewn into our hearts this morning. Again, Father, we lift up those from El Paso and Dayton, God as they are receiving horrible news. We pray that you comfort them with your word.

We pray again for an alternative message to their hearts of hope.

Jesus name.



We are all shaped by the words we hear and choose to respond to in life. Whether that be by rejecting an idea, or receiving an idea.

There’s no sense of neutral in life.

When we respond and when we reject the messages that we hear, they shape us no matter what

words are powerful, they shape who we are in what we do. It’s no wonder that the beginning of the Bible depicts God’s creation narrative like this. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the earth is form and without void, and darkness covered the face of the deep.

It goes on to say,

but God said, Let there be light. And then there was


words were used in the creation narrative to shape a whole of reality.

No wonder why words and messages shape who we are and what we do as people. We hear messages, and we are molded by them. The gunman and El Paso and in Dayton

were shaped

by messages that they perceived to be true. And their solution to the perceived problem was rooted in a commitment to their ideologies.

The message they chose to accept shaped their actions. And then our world we are saturated with messages and words that compete to tell us about what the good life is what’s right, what’s wrong, how we ought to live, how to have vitality in life, meaning how to have significance, our satisfaction and security satisfied and we have this on the social realm, political realm, social

Economic grown, relational, financial and emotional. All these words and messages are sown in our hearts and they all demand a response and they all get a response to not respond is in fact a response.

Amen, we are shaped

by messages.

Jesus, however, sets his message against all others and overshadows all other messages. And this message in this text is called the word and this word is not the Bible.

It is the kingdom

as revealed in Scripture.

We often teach this text out of advantage or out of our perspective, and we’re talking about the Bible. That’s not what this is actually talking about. It’s talking about the word of the kingdom. Jesus says it twice here. And everywhere else that this parable is recorded. It’s it’s recorded in Matthew

Mark and Luke. And this parable is given the priority of all parables because it starts first, some scholars have called this parable, the parables about parables.

The parables about how people are going to respond to parables.

And it’s interesting because Jesus gives a message. And there’s multiple responses. And that’s true of anything in life. We can see and hear the same thing and interpret it two different ways right now already social and political upheaval over date now Passover are raging on social media and on media outlets. People looking at the same events coming to to radically different conclusions about what not to be done.

This is how our world works. So it makes sense that there’ll be multiple responses to Jesus’s message scientists, who are Christians and non Christians do the same. You have a Christian Scientist, and an atheist scientists looking at the same evidence through the same telescope looking at the same

Set of molecules and coming to radically different conclusions about what it means.

Multiple responses. But what is a parable?

What is a parable? Ch Dodd says this is going to be a quote up there for you, CH Dodd.

He says at its simplest,

the parable is a metaphor or similarly drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application, to tease it into active thought.

Love, that the stories of Jesus are meant to instill a sense of sufficient doubt to make us contemplate our condition and our position before God

and our place in His Kingdom.

In fact, another scholar named Klein Snodgrass,

he says parables are actually meant to enlighten and instruct, but often,

but often with a message that people do not want to hear.

There are there are simple and profound illustrations of how the kingdom of God works in our lives here and now and in the time to come. So that’s why that’s what a parable is. It’s deeper. It’s not just a catchy phrase. There’s stories that illustrate something from the outside that has penetrated the inside and what it means. And so why parables we’re going to skip down to verses 10 through 16. I want you to kind of focus your attention there, because that’s where Jesus addresses why he even uses parables. In fact, the disciples say, why are you speaking to them in parables, and Jesus’s response is kind of like, I’m actually speaking to you.

There’s a sense that this is for the outsider.

The gospels have a way of making the person who thinks he’s the insider, the outsider and the outsider. The Insider

is like, yes, I’m talking to them. And I hope they lean in and listen close, but I’m actually talking and warning you.

It’s interesting. But in these verses, you have some you have something that’s kind of kind of concerning this bear with me for about five minutes, allow me to get some contextual nerd stuff out, and then we’ll we’ll get to application okay? So just just bear with me, okay. This parable is rooted in Isaiah,

and a passage in Isaiah and that’s why in your Bible on the table, you see it emboldened because it puts in bold, the Old Testament passages I want to read the Old Testament passage in its entirety, verses six nine to 13, Isaiah six, nine through 13.

It says this, the context is God’s people have continued to walk away. Continue to continue

Time after time God has redeemed them. And God is saying all right, it’s enough. I’m going to hand you over to what you really want. And this is what he says. Isaiah responds in that famous here I am Lord send me Let’s listen to what his first messages

go say to these people keep listening but do not understand keep looking but do not perceive make the minds of these people don’t def in their ears and blind their eyes otherwise they might see with their ears and hear with their ears understand what their minds turn back and be hill that I said until when Lord

until cities lie in ruins without inhabitants houses are without people the land is ruined and desolate, and the Lord drives the people far away, leaving great emptiness in the land. Though attempt will remain in the land it will be burned again, like the terror event or the oak that leaves a stump when filled. The Holy seed is the stump

He says, Go say that to them. Look, and don’t see here, but really don’t listen.

Otherwise you would turn back and you’ll be healed. Our immediate thought is what this sounds like God does not want them to be say. It sounds like he is making them not be able to respond. And here there are three ways that people have interpreted this throughout history.

The first one is that that’s exactly what it is that God is saying to to Isaiah, you need to go tell the people that they are not fit for salvation.

I am intentionally not allowing them to turn back to me and be healed. I’m intentionally Now there are some that will be and some that won’t be. They turn this text into a text about predestination.

God is predestined some and not others, many scholars, I’m not saying that this is a wrong text. I want you to kind of work it out for yourself. Many scholars have argued this

I don’t think so that’s my personal perspective. There’s a second view that says that this passage is about the divine mystery between God’s sovereignty and responsibility. There’s a tension that has meant to be lived in and not solved. God is all in control, and we are fully responsible. And that tension just kind of rubs. There’s some way that God knows who’s going to be saved and how God doesn’t know. There’s just all this tension that’s surrounded that now, basically, I agree with that as a whole theology, but as for this text, I still think that’s wrong.

We tend to turn these parables into things about individual salvation.

people treat this parable like Oh, they were never saved the forest soil were never saved. Or we go the opposite way and say, Oh, they were once saved and now they’re not that Mrs. The parable completely

in my opinion,

This is about life in the kingdom, Jesus is talking to people who perceive themselves to be in the kingdom of God. This parable is about discipleship. This parable is about being conformed a whole entire life to the pattern of Jesus.

And so what’s happening here, when Jesus talks on you uses this parable. The third solution that I’ll submit to you that I think is probably right, is what scholars call prophetic irony.

is using it to provoke them to think deeply about their situation.

Why would you want to be saved? Essentially, well, don’t here because then you’d be saved.

It’s a sense of it’s not to be taken literally. We have to be careful with taking literal, taking prophecy literal. It is hyperbole to convey a literal truth

about something else. It’s to provoke us. It’s to warn us and to invite us

into the kingdom of God.

In a way of life, The kingdom of God is a way of life. It’s not a one time confession. It is a covenant with God, living with God on a daily basis, submitting to God on a daily basis. That’s the kingdom of God. It’s the rule and reign of God. And wherever the rule and reign of God is submitted to by his people, there is the kingdom.

That’s the kingdom.

This doesn’t work in marriage, where you say where you make your vows, and then that’s it. You can do whatever you want.

Now, the confession of your vows up front in the marriage

are supported and validated by the ongoing commitment.

That’s the kingdom.

The rule and reign of God another kingdom is not the church.

Some think it is it’s not the church is the vehicle for the kingdom.

We are to help people understand and invite them into the kingdom of God. We are the vehicle of the kingdom. So kind of situated

This entire text is not about predestination is not about, did you lose your salvation or didn’t you lose your salvation? That’s interesting because both camps agree that there are some perceived to be Christians but are actually not. We all know this right? People who say, yeah, I’m a Christian, but you’re not.

You did not have the bodily resurrection. By definition, you are not a Christian.

So we all agree on that. But again, this is prophetic irony meant to provoke us warn us and invite us. They reveal that the kingdom is like a hidden treasure. That’s why Jesus uses parables. He says it’s a secret. It’s a hidden treasure. Now, people some people think he’s hiding it, hiding the kingdom.

Because he doesn’t want them to know Jesus is saying he’s hiding the kingdom like a treasure because it’s meant to be found.

treasure is meant to be found. He’s hiding it to only see who comes to seek and find it. Right.

There’s another parable about that.

Hidden for the sake of being found, and so that kind of sets up the context as well, because it says on that day in verse one on that day, Jesus just got done, saying to people, controversially, that his family are not blood. It’s those who do the will do the will of the Father. That’s super controversial in this culture. In fact, that would have been nearly heretical to say that, that his family is not his family, but the people who do God’s will is his family.

So he just got done saying that, and there’s crowds all around. So this parable is meant to draw people out of the crowd

and into a life of discipleship.

Who from the crowd will hear and lean in, some will hear and walk away, which gets us to the soils hear the responses.

It says the sower went out to sow

the sower

is God and then the disciples. He sews the seed

What’s up supposed to sprout up and then produce more?

The seed is the word of the kingdom apparently to Jesus. But notice some people criticize the problem they go, what kind of farmer just throws all of a seed out there not knowing don’t read too much into it. It’s a parable. It’s not literal. And this is how sometimes they would do it. They would throw it out there till it up, and they were okay. All right, this is not don’t don’t read too much into it. Don’t miss the point. If you want to find any point, look at the generosity of the sower.

Not the wastefulness. He’s scattering seeds of all types of soil.

Sounds like a generous farmer.

Giving the whole ground equal opportunity.

So God’s the sower.

But God is the sower who shows up in Jesus to start this revolution of the kingdom and see me weakness. Now. What we need to understand is that people who were following Jesus were doing so because he was claiming the kingdom of God and the whole

Israel had expected God to invade and rip things up and replant the kingdom of God. They were hoping Jesus was the guy. And they had this political vision of the kingdom where he was going to come and advance their political agenda. See them high on the political chain and rule over all that’s kind of sound similar to stuff that we hear in our culture, but the people who over politicize Jesus and make conservatism synonymous with Christianity or liberalism, synonymous with Christianity. That’s not the case. The kingdom of God is an entirely different realm and way of life. Not the case. So Jesus is announcing the kingdom. They’re curious to see what is he going to do what he says he’s going to do, but the sower is kind of a weird imagery, you would think he would say, the king comes in Congress with his sword. This is the parable. But no, it’s unassuming. It’s quiet. It’s subtle. It almost seems weak. In fact, one one scholar on those songs are lost sorry on the on the parables we’ve been in the storm so long and keep saying songs.

David Windham says sewing is on the one hand, something that seems quite weak and unimpressive at the time. And the seed is very vulnerable. On the other hand, the sewing of the seed is the initiation of something of the greatest importance and power. Jesus’s ministry was such a sewing apparently ineffective, certainly vulnerable to rejection, yet still the initiation of the kingdom of God.

David went on goes on to talk about how earthly kingdoms come by force.

But the kingdom of God

comes like a seed. It takes time. It’s patient, it’s persuasive. It’s slow.

But when you look out at an open field and you plant one seed, you think this is never going to happen. Come back 100 years and see where that field is.

You have to have some of our biggest equipment to remove these trees.

The seemingly insignificant seed is the most powerful

powerful thing on the planet is what he is getting at with this server. So there’s four soils here, the hardened heart, the shallow heart, the strangled heart and the hearing heart. These will go quickly because Jesus provides the interpretation for us. We’re going to stick to his out. He knows it better than I do.

The first one is a hardened heart. You see this in verse 14 and 19 This is the closed off and callous, the closed off in the callous, they simply don’t need God. I don’t need the Word of God. I don’t need the kingdom. But what you’ll find ironically, is that this is in the religious and non religious

both in their own way reject the Word of God.

And the reason is similar. They fear to lose control.

The religious people set legalism up to control

the non religious

want us to conform

because they don’t want to surrender the self. Both are scared of losing


And this could be in total life, I reject God entirely or as a Christian, guess what? With multiple areas of your life, the minute you say God, that’s off limits, you don’t get to touch that.

You don’t get to touch that. Oftentimes my experience as I’ve been meeting with people, a lot of boils down to their political positions quite, quite honestly, or their social positions or their positions on sexuality, or their positions on money. You touch that sensitive part of their life and say, God does not have the authority here.

But if there’s one, even one area of your life that you say, God, you’re not you don’t have access to that he’s really not Lord of your life. You are.

But notice also the spiritual dynamic here.

Says the enemy is like a bird. He comes and snatches the seed away. You see, this path has been walked on, it’s been trampled. It’s just hard. And so the seed laid on the ground the bird coming snatched it and so that’s what with there’s a spiritual dynamic that we

never talked about in the church, that there is an active spiritual agency out for our soul out for our soul to take it and to run us to be hard against God.

And we don’t need to talk about this in the church for some reason we have completely removed the spiritual dynamic of faith, bankrupting our faith in a lot of ways and then


into the enemy’s power. And this sounds super kooky it is I had a professor one time I asked was it man, you make it sound like there’s a demon behind every bush and he had his glasses. He goes there is.

There’s a spiritual thing at work here.

The path is naturally hard, but the enemy swoops in and reinforces that hardness. You see, when we rejected Jesus over and over, it continues to harden. Just like when you walk on a path, it gets harder and harder every time you walk on it.

Every time we reject Jesus, it hardens us a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more.

And so we have to ask ourselves which way and what way is doing in my life? Do I say no to God? what ways do I say no to God? That is off limits? Is there any area in your life in my life where we say no?

How about the shallow heart and verses five and six, and 20 and 21. These are the people that says they sprung up immediately. Immediately. These are the people that say I am not willing to suffer because of the word of the kingdom.

It took root for a second, the ground was really shallow this the shallow soil had limestone and rocks, it was hard for it to penetrate. It was never was never able to have life. It quickly sprung up. We see this all the time in Montana.

There’s some there’s a there was a flower by our house and we have a lot of rock underneath the ground and

And I saw it growing one day it was dead, the next

one right next to it and wrote dead. That’s, that’s why I don’t garden here, folks, I don’t have the patience or the time for this sort of


out that I would garden anywhere else either.

Shallow heart though.

Notice it says it’s basically saying that when things are good, God is good. When things are bad God is bad. If we don’t feel good we then first take it. That’s the that’s the posture of this they receive it immediately with emotional excitement. And joy says joy, that’s a Christian word joy. They had it. But notice the key word here is immediately in the Greek that could actually be translated suddenly or quickly. Ah, now all of a sudden we’re talking about are busy.

too busy

to slow down and seek the

into the love and grace and the soil of salvation.

The person is Hurry, and hurry removes the space for depth.

And because we are never still we have no depth and there cannot be rooted discipleship.

When persecution comes

they walk away.

This happens in our cultural climate all the time.

Culture says this Christianity says this we get pushed we say, Okay, I don’t like the hostility I’m going.

The churches might look like the people who move

from conference to conference.

from church to church looking for the next spiritual high. rootedness is fickle.

The next one is the strangled heart. And Matthew seven and 22. This one is choked out the soil represents simply divided loyalties.

And it says that it begins. It says that it begins because of the worries of this world. And these people say, I’m not willing fault now that not these people, these people, these people would say something along the lines as I do not trust God.

I do not trust God to be who he says he is, and do what he says will do my life. So I’m gonna have one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom, and I’m going to try to hope that that thing works, but it doesn’t because the worries of this age choke it out. We are simply waiting for something to go wrong and our actions reveal that we do not trust God to do what’s right.

Actually, the word word here can be translated anxiety, and it’s more about the anxiety of life in general, the anxiety of life. And I’m not talking about clinical clinical depression. I’m talking about the daily anxieties that most people face fear based, but that’s not it. They’re worried about the they’re worried and anxious every day afraid to hand over to God, what’s his, then there’s the decision

fullness of wealth.

The idea here is that wealth and possessions trick us into thinking that we are significant, satisfied and secure. There’s a loser to it. It’s a trick

that we buy into and it chokes out the life of the kingdom. Because the kingdom says you cannot find yourself until you first lose yourself. And then the kingdom is complete and total surrender to the rule and reign of God in our life.

Don’t trust God, or God’s Word to lead to the way of life is what this was said. And we see this in Judas.

And we see this with the rich young ruler will do everything else again, but hands you what we find valuable to us.

And so the question here is what is it in my life that competes for my allegiance and all? What drives me to the highest joys when I have it and that the deepest despair when I don’t? You’ll find your idol. You’ll find what is competing for your heart when you ask yourself what joy

My anxiety and then what captures mile

you’ll find the thing competing for your life.

And we need to ask the spirit to root it out.

The last one

The last one is the hearing heart, and eight and 23

it says these people here and understand and this produces fruit and this fruit is not just peace, patience, kindness, self control, faithfulness. It’s not just that it is that it is about character, conduct, word and deed the entirety of our life is marked by sense of fruitfulness. We are investing in others. We are showing people the kingdom we are doing. We are doing what God is telling us to do because He is King and we are not we have dethroned our idol placed God on the throne of our heart and now we are moving to the rhythm of his word.

That is what the kingdom

and this person would say God’s word is works transformation.

growth in my life and I can’t imagine life without it. Now notice this soil. Notice this soil has been through it all. At one point it was solid ground.

At one point,

it may have not had the strongest roots, it had to grow in roots.

At one point, it’s going to have to compete for space with other vegetation.

But it stays

it encompasses all the above Jesus is very clear your life will be hard in this world.

But this one indoors, one Greek lexicon calls this endurance it says, it is a characteristic of a person who was Unsworth from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trial and suffering. That’s what it’s talking about.

When trial comes, you don’t bail you lean in.

Again, this is what the parable is meant.

It’s meant to say, who out in the crowd will come out of the crowd and seek the hidden treasure that is the kingdom.

It’s dynamic. We can never look at these soils and say that’s the eternal state of every person. These are seasonal you have sometimes people are just saying no to God and it’s out of an emotional insecurity or something that has to be overcome and they do and they overcome. Some

are competing with their wealth in their career for their for their vitality. These are not static. These are dynamic,

and rhythms that we all have to work through.

And one pastor said they are seasonal.

Jesus sins are basically

offers an invitation whoever has ears let him hear. And so this

this tells us right off the front that this parable is about human moral human responsibility than anything. Why? Because he says, Let He who has ears who has ears

Most everyone,

whether it really means is who has the ability to comprehend.


is saying then listen up

the word here if you don’t, so we don’t forget and the Hebrew the word is Shema.

And it’s also translated obey, hear and obey.

starts with the word.

The question is what soil do we find ourselves in this morning? You see what happens with the world again as revolutions break off and force and coercion and power and military, but the revolution of the God, it began with an announcement, not ammunition.

That’s the message. It’s a word. He says here the word not see my power. We certainly do see his power. But he says it starts with hearing the word

We need to understand about the kingdom of God is it looks like weakness, but it’s actually true strength.

And we see this in Jesus. The cross look like the weakness and shame but it was actually the power of God to save

the kingdom of God subverts the kingdoms of the world. We should not attach ourselves to a political agenda. We should not attach ourselves to a social economic agenda. We should attach ourselves and orient ourselves and situate ourselves under the rule and reign of God wake up each morning and say, how will I submit to your rule and reign in my life? And what does this rain look like? Well, he’s called the God of peace.

The person who’s worried and anxious all the time, his rule and reign is one of peace.

And what we see actually, is that Jesus is the true seed.

That was

Gather by the Spirit

as a generous farmer with his grace.

The question is how will you respond?

Once you take two minutes,

just think about where you are and how you would respond

and then we’ll move it doesn’t take the conversations

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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