Tuesday 29 March 2022



THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.   Matthew 13 v 1/23

This is a major parable of the twenty three recorded in Matthew’s gospel, and it is recorded by Luke and Mark, The parables of Jesus make up a crucial part of the Bible, to convey spiritual truth.

 Here is a picture which people present with Jesus would understand. He had just left His house and got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people gathered on the shore in a sort of amphitheatre on the shore. It was common practice for a Rabbi to sit as he taught. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one.

A farmer went out to his field to scatter some seeds. The field would be divided into long narrows trips, and between the strips was a walking path of  way, and with constant walking would become hard by the feet of passers-by. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on the footpath, and the birds came and ate them.

 Other seeds fell on shallow soil only a few inches deep with underlying limestone rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 

 Other seeds it is told, fell on ground which was deceptive in that it might have looked good, but underneath lay roots of fibrous plants, and the seeds would mix with the weeds that grew up and choked out the tender plants, but the weeds flourished.

More seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.

 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

Jesus told them,, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 

Jesus was bearing in mind a prophecy of Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, who said  ‘for they look, but they don’t really see.  They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.  He was meaning they listened and saw him preaching, but would not turn to him.  This is so indicative of so many people now, they are prejudiced and don’t want to consider anything different to what they believe.

This is so prevalent in political circles, and among intolerant activists who want to criticise all who hold different views and beliefs to them, but resent any alternative opinion.  What individual people do and think is a personal matter for  them, but others have equal entitlement to differ.  The followers of Jesus were thought to be worthy of listening to him.

Jesus explained the parable. He stated there are those who hear the message and are like the seed sown on hard ground, it doesn’t have any effect on them. They don’t let it penetrate their mind or affect the way they choose to live. It can be a matter of pride causing a person to think there is no need to change their way of life, or there is a barrier to hear  something different to what they are used to.

The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, and they fail to think things out properly and quickly reject. We have minds and hearts, and we have an obligation to intelligently reason out the demands of Christianity, which is not only a privilege, but also a responsibility.

There are the hearers who have lives full of other interests in life, and let the important matters be crowded out. Just like the seed which falls on the ground and gets choked  by underlying thorns. The business man for whom all life beyond the end of the Sunday service is concentrated on business issues. Or be like a man who once told me how he loved coming to Church, but it was difficult on some Sundays as he had golf to play. They hear a message, but fall away to temptations.

But there are the people who are like good ground.  The seed falls and takes root in an open mind, willing to listen and react.  He listens to the Word of God instead of other people. Such people are like the seed which produces a rich harvest, who trust and obey.

The doors of Synagogues were closing on Jesus, and He was not having a  lot of success for they were trying to destroy Him. Some people were going to Jesus for what He could do to heal them, but then went away and forgot Him. How human nature never improves through the generations. The Apostles saved and believed implicitly in Jesus, but must have felt frustrated and even disappointed that people didn’t loyally follow Him.

This parable teaches that there is also the good seed and good people to produce a harvest, and we see proof of that in the fact that while some  Churches pretend to preach the gospel, there are those that really do so. This is a parable of encouragement.  Just as a Sower cannot foretell the results of his sowing, neither can a preacher know the immediate result of preaching, in fact may never know.

 I was on holiday at a place within reasonable distance from my home, and went into a shop where the owner stated he knew me.  He had once attended a service I had taken some time before, and heard things from the Bible which he had not previously understood. This helped him to believe and attend Church. We should never be proud, but it is good and acceptable to be encouraged to know one caused growth.

Jesus had to explain to His Apostles why He spoke in parables. He said to him who has much more would be given, but from the one who has not, what he  has will be taken away from him. It might have been expected to be the other way round, but what Jesus was referring to was truth,  We may hear and believe, but never act up to it.  Jesus was meaning that giving more will be given to those who  can produce results.

In the parable, Jesus referred to different soils and the corresponding reactions by different ways to the gospel. Some people can be deeply changed by something they heard, and there is a change in their life, whilst others whose minds are shallow and are never touched.

We who live here in Bedford are home to one of the great names in Christian history, John Bunyan. He wrote a a Christian book named Pilgrim’s Progress which attained world attention, and assisted millions of people.  He was a man of much Christian faith and integrity, who served twelve years imprisonment because he conducted services which were more forceful than the Church of England form, and refused to follow those the Church laid down.  His memory is as strong now as when he lived between 1628 and 1688.

Jesus said the only thing that has power to change the human heart is the Word of God. The parable teaches that this must be supported by people getting to see and hear we are an active Church ministry. There is need for us to try and invite unconverted people to services, and try to create an interest for Children, but without some of the gimmickry of some past ideas, where the emphasis has been on trivialities..

One essential necessity for any organisation, be it Church, Army, or business is strong leadership. A leader who is committed to the task with firm belief in what he is leading, solid discipline within the organisation to faithfully keep to the purpose stated, and have a clear plan of what is aimed for.  Such is very much lacking within main denominations where there is no clear indication of the purpose for which the Church exists, what it believes, what is unique and which only the Church can offer,

In fairness, the Articles of a a denomination are clearly stated at the time of its foundation, but people regularly read of senior Ministers not accepting the Word of God, and even trying to make an unholy alliance with the culture of society, and even opposition activists.

How God must weep when He sees the wonderful Church He created, and the final commission of our Lord to take the gospel to ALL nations, making disciples and obeying the commands He had given.  

This parable is itinually relevant wherever and whenever the gospel is preached; it described what happens within congregations.  The work of a preacher resembles that of the Sower;  good seed must be sown based on the Word of God (the Bible).  Sadly, despite having made vows before being authorized to preach only sound doctrine, such has not been adhered to.

The teaching of the Bible, which is God’s command, is being blatantly ignored by the highest Offices of the Church to the lowest ranking lay preachers.  We see the consequences in the number of empty seats in Churches.  Rather than spreading His commands, the ways of the world are being communicated.

The parable tells that there are different ways of hearing  the Word without any benefit.  I have heard people think it amusing to say all the things they think of during a sermon.  Such nonsense is not amusing, and just shows how much intelligence they haven’t got, and is shameful when it is borne in mind that they are present in Church to worship the God who gave His Son to die on a Cross for their forgiveness.  Anyone who has lost a son (or daughter) will know how painful such a loss is.  Truth has no more effect on such people than water poured over a stone.

Like the Sower, the preacher should use every opportunity to make the gospel prosper, as Paul stated at every opportunity. The preacher should not be discouraged  or give way, for to do so is to betray and dishonour one’s commission.  We can sow, but we cannot make it grow, only God can do that, and He would not bless some of the talk being given.

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