He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. — Matthew 13:23
The story is told of a man who sat on his porch during the services in a neighboring church. He enjoyed listening to the musical portion of the service, but would plug his ears during the sermon. One day, while he was plugging his ears, a fly landed on his nose. He twisted and turned to get the fly off but couldn’t shake it loose. Finally, he took one hand off his ear and rid himself of the fly. The moment he uncovered his ear, the minister said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” His attention was captured, and he listened to the rest of the sermon. When the Word of God is sown, we have a choice of “plugging our ears” spiritually or listening and applying what we hear to our daily lives.
When Jesus told his hearers, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” He was referring to more than just perceiving an auditory stimulus. There is a deeper kind of listening that results in spiritual understanding and application. In today’s text, Jesus described this in the parable of the sower and the seed. His description of four types of soil portrayed the various levels of receptivity in people’s hearts.
What kind of person is compared to good soil? As good soil hearers, we pay close attention to God’s Word and love the truth that is in it. As we study it and daily apply it to our lives, we understand what the will of God is and what the Word of God means. Our hearts are pliable, receptive, and carefully maintained to allow the good seeds to grow and the “weeds” placed by the enemy to be removed quickly and completely.
How much return should be expected from the seeds that are planted in a Christian’s heart? Each of us has the opportunity to bring forth a hundredfold. Yet, becoming truly good ground may not always be easy. Perhaps we may only bear a hundredfold after being broken to pieces by adversity. Many times the Word and will of God work like a plow, His “blade” cutting in to make us pliable and free of hindrances that would choke His truth. We want to allow what God has permitted in our lives to shape us into the Christians the Lord desires us to be.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, used everyday objects and illustrations to speak to those to whom He ministered, rather than the difficult terminology or verbiage used in the schools of the day. Parables were some of the Lord’s favorite teaching tools, and His use of them was a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 78:2). The word parable means, “A fictitious narrative of common life containing a moral.”
In the Bible, parables provided an earthly comparison to make a spiritual point. Those who heard the parables had to apply themselves to ascertain the meaning. The truths were hidden from the ungodly. Jesus indicated that the unrighteous chose to have their understanding hindered, saying, “[Their] heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed” (Matthew 13:15). Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10.
In Jesus’ time, it was a common practice for the farmers to put seed in a bag. As they walked through the plowed fields, they took the seed out by handfuls and scattered it. The seed fell on four types of ground: hard-packed earth, areas where there was only a little soil over the rocks, among thorns on unplowed land, and on good ground.
Jesus explained the meaning of many of His parables, including this one, to His disciples. When the seeds of the Gospel are spread, the hearts that it touches have different levels of receptivity. The success of the spiritual growth of the seed is dependent upon the preparation of the hearts. Some hearts are hard, and the seed never starts to grow. Some hearts are shallow, and although the seed grows quickly, it withers when the sun of persecution and trials shine on it. Cares and deceitful riches choke the seed in some hearts. However, some seed falls on receptive hearts. Jesus indicated that in receptive hearts, the amount of fruit would vary, but clearly He expected there to be fruit.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The opposition to the King
B. The consequences of the King’s rejection: characteristics of the mystery (interim) kingdom
1. Parables to the multitudes
a. The sower: proclamation in the kingdom (13:1-23)
(1) The parable (13:1-9)
(2) The purpose of parables (13:10-17)
(3) The point of the parable (13:18-23)
What is the condition of the “ground” in your heart today? We want to yield to God so that our hearts can be receptive and fruit bearing.