Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:3

“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” – Matthew 13:3 

Over the next week or two, we will be looking at the various parables Jesus told His disciples.  Today we will look at the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13. Here is the parable.

And great multitudes gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole multitude was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:2-8.

The parable begins by stating that a sower went out and sowed some seeds.  In agriculture as we know it, this would mean that the land had been prepared by ploughing or digging, but in Palestine it was common for the sower to sow his seed first and then plough it in. It appears that in this region, some ploughed before while some did it after.  However, sometimes a farmer would plough the soil twice, once before sowing the seed and then again afterwards. Nonetheless, the seed ended up falling on four different soils, with different results on account of the soil type.

Some fell beside the road. In those days there were no fences bordering fields, thus there were paths that ran through the fields, and when the sower was scattering his seed it was inevitable that some of it would fall on or close beside such paths. Since there was no soft soil there in which the seeds might sink, they remained where the birds could reach them and they were speedily devoured.  Others fell on stony ground where there was a little soil, but not enough for the seeds to grow sufficiently to sustain growth. And when the sun came out they withered away. And some fell among the thorns. These thorns were sturdy, robust plants, not easily to be defeated in the struggle for life. The plants as such would be ploughed in with the good seeds, but they would have their own seeds or pieces of roots that would enable them to spring into growth. So, the good seeds found intense competition for the nourishment in the soil, and the thorny plants were too strong. They choked out the new plants by preventing them from getting the nourishment they needed. And finally, some fell on good soil.  Theologian Leon Morris states this has the idea of ‘beautiful’ about it. “Good seed going into good ground bears a good crop.”

Then upon completing this parable, Jesus told the crowd “He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:9. Essentially He was saying everyone who desires to be instructed in the things of God and the gospel are to listen to what He says and become wise regarding salvation. 

The disciples then come to Him and Jesus explains the parable. First, He tells them why He speaks to the in parables for He was asked why He does it. “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” Matthew 13:11. They desired to know the truth and the meaning behind the parables, for they dedicated their lives to following Him.  Therefore, it was granted to them to understand.  And this pertains to all who desire to follow Him.

Now, as to the meaning of this parable.  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” Matthew 13:19. This refers to a careless hearer. This person is not hostile to the message. The hearer knows that there is some spiritual truth here intended for his profit, but since he does not act on it, he soon finds that what he heard is lost. The failure to attend to the message and to find out what it means results in total loss, first of the message and ultimately of the hearer.

Next, the seed that fell on stony ground. “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21.  This regards someone who received what he hears with joy. But to start is not necessarily to finish. Here the word is received but without commitment, which ultimately cannot last; for when persecution or tribulation comes upon them because of the Word, they fall away. And this is not a gradual loss of interest but a collapse under pressure.

And the seed that falls among the thorns. “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22. The soil is good, but already taken. These are more interested in the things of this world then of the kingdom.  They are more interested in what they can attain here rather then what God has promised. Therefore, these things crowd out God’s word and replaces it with thoughts of wealth and pleasure.

And lastly, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”  Matthew 13:23. These are those who hear His word, accept, and follow Christ. Their focus is the Kingdom of God and not this world and God uses them to bear much fruit for kingdom. They are committed to His Word and work and give Him the glory in all things. In other words, they are totally committed to Christ.  And this is the life we are to live, for this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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