Sea-side Story-time, Soil Analysis. Listening?
Heavenly Heart Checks from Kingdom Parables,
from Matthew 13
Oh those sneaky stories Jesus loved to tell. Just when you think they are fun little tales, they turn into a mirror, showing ugly truths, asking hard questions. Parables (παραβολή - to set beside) both reveal and conceal. For those who listen to God’s word, so they can obey, Jesus’s stories direct, correct, and bring hope. For those who have no plan to practice what He preaches, Jesus’ parables confuse, convict, and powerfully disclose the “listener’s” hard heart.
Jesus’ first parable in Matthew 13 tests our soul’s soil. It is a heart check, a hearing test for the stories that follow. Leaving a crowded house, Jesus heads to a spacious beach, crowds in tow. Sitting on a ship, He sows a string of stories at the sea-side (vs. 1, 2). He starts off speaking of soils, showing His students’ spiritual state (vs. 3-9). When His disciples ask why He uses tales to teach, He tells of two distinct heart diagnoses (vs. 10-17). Listeners who seek to obey His word, are blessed with more truth through them - they “get it”. Hard-hearted hearers, who plug their ears, close their eyes, are found out and called out. Which are you: a fruitful listener or part of the curious, but callous crowd?
Sea-Side, Boat-deck Disciple-making (12:46 – 13:3a)
· What makes one His true family, disciples? Matt. 5:1, 2; 7:24-29; 12:46-50
· Hear AND Do: Josh 1:6-9; Psalm 81:11-13; James 1:19-24; John 13:17
· “Then he told them many things in παραβολαῖς / parables…”(vs. 3a)
The Stage-setting Story of Soils. Listen! (vs. 3b-9)
· “Consider the sower who went out to sow.” (vs. 3) Wise Words!
1) “Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (vs. 4; cf. Mark 4)
2) “Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.” (vs. 5-6)
3) “Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it.” (vs. 7)
4) “Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown.” (vs. 8)
· “Let anyone who has ears listen.” (vs. 9 - CBS)
His Sovereign, Soul-Exposing Strategy (vs. 10-17; Is. 6:9, 10)
· Give His True Family, Fruitful Ones More Truth (vs. 11, 12, 16, 17)
“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:17
· Befuddle Mere Listeners, Reflect their Rejection (vs. 12-15; Is. 6:9, 10; 53:1)
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8
Which Soil / Soul are You, a Forgetful or Fruitful Hearer:
· Rebellious, obstinate, rejecting, fruitless (Matt. 25; Lk 8:9, 10; Rom. 11:7-10)
· Shallow commitment, lacking endurance (Matt. 9:19-22; 26:31, 56; Psalm 1)
· Mixed affections, worldly, idolatrous (1 John 2:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:10)
· Fruitful via obedience, an effective hearer (James 1:25; 1 John 3, 4)
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25 – CSB)