Lessons From the Parables
The Sower and the Seeds - Part 2
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Most people live out their lives without truly understanding the way this world really works. We see the physical dimensions in which we live, but most of us see only the physical. Unknown to most is the greater, more powerful and pervasive unseen spiritual realm revealed in the Bible. That spiritual realm has more influence on everyone than we can know.
Jesus Christ reveals this truth in the parable of the sower and the seed recorded in Matthew 13. In the first installment on this parable in the last issue, we briefly covered the four examples of seed falling on different types of ground.
First is seed that falls on the hard path and is eaten by birds. Second is seed sown in soil with lots of rocks, where a plant emerges but withers when the weather turns hot and dry. Third is seed scattered among thorns, where the good plant is eventually choked out by thick weeds. But the seed sown into good soil produces anywhere from 30- to 100-fold increase.
Jesus later explained the meaning of the parable to His disciples. He started by telling them something quite surprising:
“He replied, ‘You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them” (Matthew 13:11-13, New Living Translation, 1996).
Christ’s words here are hard for most to comprehend. He says some are permitted to hear and understand while others are not. His closest disciples were permitted to hear and understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. The reasons are given in His explanation and in the stark reality of how life really works. The world we see is not all the world that is. Let’s delve deeper into what Jesus was revealing in this parable.
Mass deception from the enemy
He went on to say: “Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts” (Matthew 13:18-19, NLT, 1996).
Here is the first example of the hard-packed ground where no seed can take root. Here is the key to understanding why so many people cannot see, hear or understand the plain teaching of the Scriptures. The wicked one, Satan the devil, quickly removes the understanding of the gospel planted in a person’s life.
You are now holding in your hands the seeds of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Right now you are weighing the value of what you read in this issue. Does it make sense to you? Does it ring true?
What will you do with what you’ve learned in these pages? Will you allow it to change your life for the better, or will you put it down and go on with your life and forget what you’ve read?
Satan, by many deceitful methods, doesn’t want you to receive this message and act on it. In Revelation 12:9 we read that the whole world lies in his deceptive grasp. That includes you!
Christ gives us the key to understand not only the why but the who of this parable. The inability to hear and understand this parable is the result of humanity being caught in a web of spiritual deception woven through generations. God is working to disentangle some in this age from Satan’s clutches. You can take that step with Him if you understand the secrets of this parable. Let’s notice further.
A busy life in an evil world
We must realize that Satan works in ways we might never perceive! He has created an alluring world filled with sensations and attractions all designed to distract us and absorb our time and life. Regardless of our status, we can all too easily be distracted from the serious reflection it takes to understand Christ’s message and commit to the Kingdom of God.
Look at the next category He mentions: “The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they appear to be growing, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word” (Matthew 13:20-21, NLT, 1996).
You can hear the true message of the Kingdom and understand parts of it. You may even accept parts of it in your life for various reasons, perhaps because it may reflect something you already believe about life or God and the Bible. But the world’s religions contain a mixture of truth and error that prevent most people from seeing and receiving the whole picture. Remember, the world we see is not all the world that is.
Jesus warned that problems and persecution will follow when a person believes and tries to follow God’s Word. Unless he or she develops deep roots, running deep into good soil, the growth won’t last. Events and circumstances can crowd out the seed of truth that has been placed in your life by God.
A rich young man came to Christ desiring to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. Christ told him to keep the commandments. The man replied that he had done so from his youth. Jesus then went to the heart of his life: “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22).
Living by Christ’s teachings is not easy in today’s world. You will find opposition when you embark on this life journey. Friends or relatives will discourage your decision. Don’t let them. Put your life in God’s hands and trust Him to fight for you and guide your path forward. To succeed, you must put down roots in God’s way of life. These roots will sustain you when the path becomes discouraging or frightening.
Crowding out the message
Let’s look at the next category, which offers a similar lesson: “The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced” (Matthew 13:22, NLT, 1996).
A fictional tale by an unknown author goes like this: Satan and his demons met to determine how to disrupt the lives of Christians. Knowing they couldn’t keep people from going to church, worshipping or believing in God, Satan cooked up a scheme to break the intimate spiritual connection believers should have with God. He would fill their lives with materialism and physical pursuits.
So Satan told his demons: “Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds. Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow . . . Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause.” . . . And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments, causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy, and rush here and there.
Does this sound like life today? It sure does! Don’t be mistaken in thinking the gospel message is opposed to wealth and to enjoying the fruits and pleasures of this life, because it isn’t. But Christ addresses the worries and distractions that can crowd out a serious relationship with God.
We all know how busy each day can be with work, school, entertainment and other pursuits. Modern life is geared to lure us away from time spent thinking about life’s meaning, studying the Bible, talking with God in prayer, and spiritual fellowship.
The apostle Paul spoke to this in his letter to a younger minister, Titus. Through God’s graceful care, Paul writes, we are being taught “that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).
We can do what this passage urges us to do. We can live a godly life today, no matter what the distraction. We can produce godly fruit. But we have to make the choice and then stick to it!
You can understand
What we do with the knowledge of the Kingdom comes down to the choices we make each day. Carefully read this parable and consider that the message of the Kingdom of God has come to you. God may indeed be calling you to salvation. You have a choice. You can respond to this message and begin to live by the new knowledge and understanding God has given you.
Notice what Jesus said about the final category: “The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted” (Matthew 13:23, NLT, 1996).
Think about this. The knowledge given through this magazine is unique and opens to you an understanding that most of the world can’t see or grasp. Their minds are deceived by the ruler of this world, Satan, who wages a relentless battle to thwart God’s eternal purpose of bringing many children to share in the glory He has with His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:10).
Remember, there is a spiritual world influencing the physical world. Satan does his best to disrupt the plan of God, but he wins only if we let him. God allows us to choose between His way and the way of this world. You have a choice—the choice to yield to the knowledge of the Kingdom and begin to produce fruit for eternal life.
God continually sows the seeds of the Kingdom today. It falls on all kinds of “soil.” Consider your heart, whether you can allow that seed to put down root and begin to change your life now, in preparation for the coming Kingdom to which He is calling you!