It is with great interest that I read about those who are building the kingdom of heaven here on earth.  There are many struggling to find peace and unify this world into what they think is God’s kingdom using extra-biblical revelation. Of course, God’s perfect kingdom is not of this world but apparently that is beside the point.

While studying Matthew, it startled me to realize the secrets that are revealed about the kingdom of heaven in chapter 13. Of the seven parables in this chapter, there are only two parables that Jesus himself explains. The Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds.

Each parable starts “the kingdom of heaven is liketh”, except the parable of the sower, which has the phrase,”Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”

What is it about these two parables that Jesus explained outright to us, that is so important.

First I should note that  parables were used because those who were sincere in wanting to understand the truth, those who were truly seeking Jesus, understood.  Those who did not understand were merely listening to stories, their hardened hearts not seeing or hearing. But those who were sensitive to the words were convicted.  Those who wanted to know more would inquire further.

The Parable of the Sower. Many of us are familiar with this parable.

Matthew 13:3-9

3. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower went forth to sow; 4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5. Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them: 8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty fold, some thirtyfold. 9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

It was at this point that the disciples asked why Jesus spoke in parables. He said, 11. “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but them it is not given.”

So why were the mysteries revealed to the disciples but not to the others?

Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Matthew 13:17 “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things ye hear, and have not heard them.”

I Cor 2:10,14 “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The truths that Jesus was speaking of, was foolishness to those who did not have the spirit of God and so instead reveals his truths to those who are childlike when they come to Him. Jesus had just preached the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount as to what our “attitudes” as children of God were to be, and yet the people would not believe.

 Matthew 13:12-13  “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

We must take the full counsel of God.  Those who interpret scripture to their liking or warp its message by taking it out of context… have no light in them. If you are looking for understanding and knowledge in the bible you will find it, but if you are closed to the truth…the truth you do have….will be taken from you.  What a huge implication this is.  If you turn your back on the Word of God, any understanding you have….will be removed. What light you have received….will taken from you.

This would like be receiving multiple warnings from your power company. After rejecting them over and over again by ignoring the bills, the plug will eventually be pulled. The power will be turned off. Likewise if you continually reject the complete teachings of the word of God, what little light you may have….God will turn out.

How careful we must be… to read the bible from front to back to ensure the understanding of his Word.

Jesus then says that this fulfills a prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10.  “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart. and convert, and be healed.”

God told Isaiah to go and preach to a people who wouldn’t respond, so that their guilt would be certain. As Trapp wrote, Isaiah would “Preach them to hell.” What preacher could be satisfied with a ministry that made the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes? Isaiah might not be satisfied with it. The people might not be satisfied with it. But God would be satisfied with it.  This shows what the word of God can accomplish when it is received with open eyes, ears, and heart. It brings understanding to our heart, it makes us return, and it brings healing to our lives. If you are under the word of God and these things aren’t happening to you, ask God to work with your eyes, ears, and heart! (David Guzik)

Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Jesus was telling the disciples that what was true of the Israelites was also true of this crowd. Isn’t this true of people today? We do not want to hear anything that may convict of us our sinful lives, so we close our eyes to the truth. We do not want to admit that our pathways are wrong or that we may have believed a lie so we continue to put our hands over our ears and sing a song to drown out the voice of God in our wicked hearts. What an eternal fatal decision.

Matthew 13:17 “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired  to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things, which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

So why have these prophets and righteous men seen not and heard not? I looked at Strongs Concordance [G1937] desire. Here is the meaning.

1) to turn upon a thing

2) to have a desire for, long for, to desire

3) to lust after, covet

a) of those who seek things forbidden

Desire, covet, lust, things forbidden! Now this is beginning to make some sense. 

Jude 19 “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

It is at this point that Jesus explains the parable.

Matthew 13:19 “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”

We can easily picture a trodden path. The soil is hard here and the Word of God bounces off. A man’s heart is hard in the same manner. He hears the Word but he doesn’t want act on it. The seed does not penetrate. The birds come and eat the seed before it has time to soften man’s heart.

We know this as the parable of the sower of the seed, but upon closer look it is truly about the condition of the soil. The seed is always the same. Let’s look at the next soil.

Matthew 13:20-21 “The one who who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the Word and at once receives it with joy. But since it has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

This seed fell on rocky places and maybe found a bit of soil between the rocks. Here it sprouts quickly but when the conditions get dry or hot, the sprout withers. There is no root or foundation to sustain it.  This is how it is when we hear God’s Word and start to go to church, but this soon becomes inconvenient or people start to criticize our faith so we fall away when times get tough. 

Matthew 13:22 “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Isn’t it just like life to become full of pastime pleasures. Shopping, boating, golfing, tennis, movie theaters, plays, etc. When the truth of Word of God becomes second to lifes whims and riches, it becomes choked among the thorns. We forget about the treasure we had in our heart, and instead long for the treasures made of wood, silver, and gold. Our other gods.

Matthew 13:23 “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

So the description of the soil is the condition of man’s heart when he hears the gospel. It may be any part of God’s word at anytime of ones life.

What four soils best describes your heart right now? 

1. It is hard-trodden, rejecting any truth that may ask you to change your ways?

2. How about rocky? Does God’s Word reach down deep to your very soul or are the roots of God’s Word shallow and ready to wilt in the heat?

3. Is your soil congested with thorns which crowd out God’s Word so that it cannot flourish?

4. Is your ground fertile? Do you welcome the seed of God’s Word into your heart and let it grow to maturity?

This fertile ground is now broken into 3 more categories.  A thirty-fold Christian may be who believes but can be lukewarm at times. A sixty-fold Christian may be someone who lives for the Lord but does not surrender entirely. But a hundred-fold Christian would be one who has commited fully to the Lord in all ways.

So it is not the seed or the sower who does not produce. It is the condition of the soil that tells the story of what one can expect when the seed is planted into it. Different soils produce different reactions. Only one of the four soils will produce fruit. What fruit have you produced for God? Is your Christian life thriving because of obedience to the Word? Do you read and study the Bible daily to ensure that you are on the right path?

The worker is not to blame. The sower has done his job by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next: The Parable of the Weeds – Counterfeit Christians