Matthew 13:1–23 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15)

13:1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Jesus’ popularity has grown immensely as He teaches with authority and heals the sick, casting out demons and changing everything.  So many followed Him in Galilee, that He could not be seen as He spoke, so He got in a boat and spoke to them as they sat on the shore.  Jesus shares the parable of the sower with the crowd, pointing out the fate of various seeds that land on soil in varying conditions.  Bird gathered up seed sown on the pathway.  Seed on stony soil is scorched by the sun because of no root system.  Seeds among thorns were choked out by the competitive plants.  Seed sown in good soil, though, grows and produces much fruit.

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,

And seeing you will see and notperceive;

15For the hearts of this people have grown dull.

Their ears are hard of hearing,

And their eyes they have closed,

Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

In the midst of this teaching, His disciples speak to Him, asking why He speaks in parables.  He explains that those who are listening and have spiritual awareness will understand and receive spiritual insight from the parables, but those who are spiritually dull and not truly listening to the teaching from a spiritual standpoint will not receive.  This may be a continuation of the discussion of the plight of those (Pharisees) who had a form of godliness, but could not see Jesus as Lord.  Those who will not receive shall not receive.  Those who are open will receive.  Be open!

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Jesus explains the meaning of the parable in order to make clear the message which He intends to be heard.  Those who do not receive or understand the word will have it snatched away.  Those who do not let the word take root will dry up when tribulation comes.  Those who are thorny soil allow the cares of this life and riches choke out the truth of God’s word and will.  But those who are willing and able to hear and understand the word will flourish, bearing fruit and making other disciples.  

God is looking for fertile soil in which to plant the seed.  He longs to see lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is looking for you.  Will you be that good soil?  He or she who has an ear to hear, let him or her hear!

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