Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirteen and fourteen of this New Testament book. THE PARABLES BEGIN! THE PSALMS! THE PROVERBS! THE PARABLES! JESUS BEGINS TEACHING AND SPEAKING IN PARABLES! THE PARABLES BEGIN! When you come to the thirteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find the beginning of a teaching style Jesus employed within and throughout His public ministry. We have already seen in the chapters leading up to this one how Jesus taught in the synagogues, and how Jesus preached the gospel concerning the kingdom. We know that from the time Jesus returned from the wilderness where He was tempted of the devil and entered into Galilee He began to call men to repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and what we find in the thirteenth chapter is the beginning of a teaching style Jesus would regularly use and employ throughout His ministry. It is important for us to recognize and understand that when attempting to teach and speak to the crowds and the multitudes concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven Jesus would more often than not speak in parables. It would be through the parables Jesus would attempt to convey the mysteries surrounding the kingdom of heaven, and while there were sometimes Jesus would explain the mystery and meaning behind the parable, there were other times when Jesus would simply speak the parable, and those with ears to hear would not only hear, but would also understand. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding Jesus’ teaching in parables is that Jesus would deliver these parables—more often than not concerning the kingdom of heaven—and would invite the listener to enter into a realm of understanding the divine mysteries that had been hidden from the beginning of the world. It was indeed true that Jesus came preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom, however, what we find in the four gospel narratives is Jesus using parables to actually teach concerning the kingdom of heaven. More often than not you will find Jesus beginning His teaching of the parables by declaring “The kingdom of God is like” or “The kingdom of heaven is like,” and then proceeding to give an illustration concerning the kingdom of heaven.
As you read the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will not find this use of “The kingdom of God is like,” and will instead find the apostle writing how when Jesus went out of the house He sat by the sea side. It would be there by the sea side that once more great multitudes would gather themselves unto Him, so that He Himself would go into a ship and sit down. While Jesus sat in the ship the whole multitude would stand and the shore as Jesus would proceed to speak to and teach them. In the third verse of the thirteenth chapter we find the apostle Matthew describing how Jesus would speak many things unto them in parables, and then actually presenting us with the parable. The parable we find in this particular passage of Scripture is actually one of the most well-known parables Jesus spoke and delivered unto those to whom He spoke, as it is the parable of the seed and the sower. What’s more, is that not only is this a parable of the seed and the sower, but it is also a parable of the same seed being sown by the same sower, and yet it was sown in four different types of soil or ground. It is absolutely necessary and important when reading and considering this parable that we understand the seed which was sown was not in any way different in one of the soils or grounds into which it was sown, but it was indeed the same seed. Within this parable we do not find four different types of sowers, nor do we find four different types of seed, but rather four different types of soil. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome truth and reality, for what it points to and reveals unto us is the mystery of the kingdom, and how the eternal Father would send a single sower with seed into the earth, and how that seed would be sown on multiple different grounds and soils. In all reality—and as we will see later in the interpretation of the parable—the same seed was sown into four different types of soil, and with it being sown into four different types of soil, it would produce and have different results. With this in mind, I invite you to first and foremost consider the actual parable itself:
“And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and 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 sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:3-9).
Perhaps the single greatest truth that is presented in the first nine verses of the thirteenth chapter is not only that Jesus spoke many things in parables, but that after He had finished delivering and speaking this parable He called for those who had ears to hear to hear. It is important for us to pay close attention to this, for Jesus didn’t and Jesus wouldn’t simply deliver the parables without giving an invitation to hear. This invitation to hear would be given unto those who had ears to hear, and would thus indicate the awesome reality that with these parables would come the awesome and incredible truth that the parables themselves would come with an invitation and need to hear the words which were spoken, and to seek an understanding of them. We know in this passage of Scripture that the disciples would ask Jesus for the meaning and interpretation of the parable, however, not everyone who heard the parable was provided with the interpretation of the parable(s). There would be those who would hear the parable, and as a direct result of hearing the parable would then need to go unto their home and study the scripture, and even get alone with the eternal and living God and seek after and pursue an understanding of what Jesus had spoken. Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus spoke many things in parables, however, just because Jesus spoke many things in parables doesn’t mean that Jesus revealed everything that was spoken. As we read the words found in these chapters we see an example of Jesus speaking a parable unto all those who gathered before Him to listen to the words He would speak, but how it would be unto the disciples He would actually give the interpretation of. We find and read in this initial parable of Jesus that a sower would go forth to sow, and this sower would have with him certain seed, and much seed. As this sower sowed, he would sow on different grounds, different surfaces, and different soils. The underlying question I can’t help but ask when reading the words of this parable is whether or not the sower was aware of the ground in which he was sowing. Each ground would have and produce a different result for the seed—despite and regardless of the fact that the seed would itself be the same. Each ground and each soil would receive the same seed as the other, and there was not one ground or one soil that could boast to the others stating that they had somehow received good seed, while the others received bad seed. There was not one particular soil that was somehow superior to the other soil(s), while other soil(s) were perhaps inferior. Each of the soil(s) and each of the grounds upon which the seed had been sown received the same exact seed from the same exact sower.
It’s worth noting and pointing out when reading the words found in the thirteenth chapter that the sower went out to sow, and as he was sowing he would sow on four distinct and four different grounds—the first being by the wayside, the second would be by stony places, the third would be among the thorns, and the fourth and final would be into good ground. The question I have to ask is not only whether or not the sower was aware of the different grounds in which he was sowing, but also whether or not he was aware that as he was sowing the seed was falling into different places. The underlying principle of this parable is not so much centered upon the seed that was sown, but rather the nature and quality of the soil. Where the seed was sown would determine the ultimate fruit and production of the seed, as some of the seed would be snatched away, while other seed would be choked up, and other seed would be scorched by the sun. There would in fact be some seed which would fall upon good ground, and as a result of falling upon good ground would bring forth fruit and a harvest—some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. The parable which Jesus spoke concerning the seed and the sower is as much about the ground and soil into which the seed was sown as it was about the actual outcome of the seed. There would be seed which was sown in certain grounds, and that seed would produce fruit—at least initially—however, that which the seed would produce would be directly impacted by the soil. The seed that was sown by the sower and fell by the wayside would be devoured and eaten up by the fowls and birds of the air, and as a direct result of this would not have the chance or ability to grow and spring up in the midst of the earth. The seed which was sown upon the stony places where there was not much earth would indeed spring up and spring forth, but because they had no depth nor any root they would be scorched by the sun when it came up. The seed which fell among the thorns would also spring forth and spring up, however, the thorns would also spring forth and choke the seed and that which had sprung forth. That seed which fell upon the good ground would bring forth fruit, and would bring forth fruit an hundred fold, sixtyfold and thirtyfold. I would even dare say that the seed which fell among good seed would even itself have different depths and different levels to it as the fruit which would spring forth from the seed which sown in that ground would vary in quantity and quality.
Upon further reading of the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the disciples approaching Jesus and asking Him very candidly and very clearly why He spoke unto the people in parables. When Jesus heard the question of the disciples He proceeded to answer and tell that it was given unto them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but unto those to whom He spoke it was not given. Jesus would then go on to declare that whoever has, to them would it be given, and they would have more abundance. To those who did not have, it would be from those even what they have would be taken. Jesus would further declare that He spoke in parables because those seeing would see not, and those hearing would hear not, nor would understand. Jesus would go on to quote the words of the prophet Isaiah and would declare, “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14-15). Jesus would quote the words from the prophet Isaiah concerning hearing but not hearing, seeing but not seeing, and not at all understanding, and would then go on to speak of the heart of the people as being waxed gross, their ears being dull of hearing, and their eyes having been closed. It’s quite interesting to read the words which are written in this chapter because Jesus would speak unto the crowds and multitudes in parables to conceal the mysteries of the kingdom from those whose hearts were hardened, those whose eyes could not see, and those whose ears could not hear. Jesus would speak in parables as an invitation given unto those who had ears to hear to further study and examine the words He had spoken unto them and get understanding. Much like the proverbs which Solomon the son of David and king of Israel wrote unto his sons that they might get understand and wisdom, so also would the parables Jesus spoke be spoken that those who heard the words and actually had ears to hear would get for and get unto themselves understanding. It would further be declared unto the disciples that their eyes were blessed for they saw, and blessed would be their ears for they would hear. Moreover, Jesus would declare that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which they saw, and did not see them, and hear the things which they heard and would not hear them.
As you come to the eighteenth verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find Jesus proceeding to speak unto the disciples and to reveal unto them the meaning and mystery behind the parable He had just spoken unto the crowds. When speaking unto the disciples concerning the kingdom of heaven Jesus would take them through the meaning and mystery behind the parable that they might understand the truth that surrounded what He had just spoken. What we must understand is that it is this first parable regarding the seed, the sower and the four grounds that is the key to helping to unlock all the other parables which Jesus speak concerning the kingdom of heaven. In all reality, I would dare say that this opening parable of the seed, the sower and the four soils would be the foundation upon which all the other parables would be built, and would be a truly wonderful and powerful invitation to hear that which was being spoken unto them. Moreover, I am completely convinced that the words found in this section of Scripture is a powerful picture of the landscape of Israel unto which Jesus Himself had come in the form of human flesh. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus was indeed the sower and that the seed was the word of God, and that the soil represented in the parable was the different types of hearts upon which and into which the seed of the word was sown. I am fully and completely convinced that the words we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful description concerning the sowing of the seed of the word of God, and how the seed can indeed be sown on multiple different types of soils and grounds. Upon initially hearing the parable which Jesus spoke to the crowds and the multitude it is not entirely and altogether clear the meaning behind the words, however, Jesus would go on to reveal the meaning behind the parable to the disciples. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus reveal the meaning of the parable to the disciples, but what Jesus would describe was a picture of this life, and that which has the ability to completely and utterly destroy the word of God within our lives. We cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the reality of the seed being sown into our hearts, as well as the impact and affect that seed can have. While the parable itself might not provide us with too much meaning and insight, it is the words of Jesus which He spoke unto His disciples that actually gives us the interpretation and meaning of the parable itself. Consider with me the following words found in the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative beginning to read with and from the eighteenth verse:
“Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received by the wayside. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received the seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But 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 13:18-23).
As you read the words which are found in Jesus’ interpretation of the parable you will find him initially describing those who hear the word of the kingdom. It is absolutely necessary that we first pause and consider these words, for it is what we find within these words that draw and call our attention to the fact that the seed which was the word of God was sown into the hearts and minds of men and women alike. Upon reading the words which are found in the parable you will find that the underlying issue was not that the seed was sown in some places rather than other places, nor that one type of seed was sown in certain places while another type of seed was sown in other places. The seed which the sower sowed was the same seed regardless of and despite the soil and ground in which it was sown. You cannot read the words in this parable and not encounter the tremendous reality that the seed which was sown was sown by the sower with the expectation that it would bring forth fruit. When the sower sowed the seed they would sow it in the ground as they went and would continue moving on sowing seed as they would continue in the field. When you read Jesus’ interpretation of the parable you will find Him beginning by describing how anyone who hears the word, thus indicating that when He was manifested in the earth and preached and proclaimed the word of God there were countless men and women who would hear the word of the kingdom of God, and would hear the word of God in their midst. From the time Jesus emerged on to the scene after being baptized in the Jordan River and even from the time Jesus emerged from the wilderness after having been tempted of the devil we find Him preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and we find Him teaching in the synagogues and preaching in the streets. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this particular reality, for it helps shine a great deal of light on to the words we find written in this parable. The words we find in this parable speak to and suggest the awesome reality that Jesus would Himself sow the seed of the word of God as He went teaching and preaching during those days, and that seed would be sown into and upon different types of soil.
I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this parable of the sower—and not only the words which are found in the parable of the sower, but also in Jesus’ interpretation of the parable. What we find in Jesus’ interpretation of the parable of the sower is His describing the sower sowing seed into different grounds and into different soils, and yet what we find concerning this sowing of the seed is different effects after it had been sowed. The sower would go forth sowing seed as they went, and the initial place they would sow the seed was by the way side. The wayside in the parable would represent that one who would hear the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it. The wicked would them come and catch away the seed of the kingdom which was sown into the heart. What we must realize is what Jesus speaks in this initial meaning and interpretation of the parable is as much a declaration of the heart as it is about that which is sown into the heart. You cannot read the words found in Jesus’ interpretation of the meaning of the parable and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that the seed which is sown is the word of God, the place in which the seed was sown was the heart, however, whether or not the seed which was sown has any effect or brings forth fruit is entirely up to the type of heart and environment in which it was sown. The sower would initially sow the seed of the word of God into the heart of an individual, and even though that individual would hear the word of the kingdom they would not understand. What would happen next immediately after this lack of understanding is the enemy capitalizing and taking advantage of this lack of understanding and stealing away what was sown. We know from Scripture that the thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, and what we find in this passage of Scripture is the thief coming in like a flood in the absence of understanding and stealing away that which was sown of the kingdom. It would be the thief who recognizes and understands this lack of understanding, and would take full and complete advantage of it that he might take, steal away and capture the seed that was sown into the heart of an individual. Please note that the seed was indeed received, and that the seed was in fact sown into the heart of this individual, however, because of a lack of understand the enemy and adversary would steal that which was sown, thus robbing that individual of the fruit of the kingdom.
THE SEED IS THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM! THE FRUIT IS THE FRUIT OF THE KINGDOM! THERE IS A TREMENDOUS NEED—NOT ONLY FOR THE SEED OF THE KINGDOM TO BE SOWN, BUT ALSO FOR THE FRUIT OF THE KINGDOM TO BE BROUGHT FORTH WITHIN THE HEARTS AND LIVES OF THOSE UNTO WHOM THE SEED HAD BEEN SOWN. The more you read the words found in the thirteenth chapter the more you are brought face to face with the awesome reality of the seed of the word of the kingdom of heaven being sown among and within the hearts of men, and yet there being different and distinct results that take place after that seed has been sown. One of the greatest truths we must recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the issue was never that the seed of the word of the kingdom was sown within, throughout, and across all different types of hearts and minds during the days Jesus walked upon the face of the earth. You cannot read the words found in the gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and not be directly confronted with the awesome reality that the seed of the word of the kingdom was originally planted and sown by John the Baptist who cried out for men and women to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, as he sought to prepare men and women for the emergence, the arrival and the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. Each of the gospel narratives presents an awesome and powerful picture concerning the seed of the word of the kingdom being sown among and within the hearts of the kingdom as even when Jesus emerged from the wilderness after having been tempted of the devil He began preaching and calling men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. It would be in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that we begin to truly see Jesus teaching and speaking concerning the kingdom as He would not only invite men and women to a righteousness which exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, but He also presented unto His hearers the attitudes of the kingdom—those principles and those core realities which should be found at the very heart of each and every one who desires to walk with and follow Him. What’s more, is that as you come to the tenth chapter of this same New Testament gospel you will find and read Jesus continuing to teach and speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven when calling the twelve disciples unto Himself and then sending them out to fulfill and carry out the same ministry He Himself had begun among them.
If you truly take the time to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find that the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples was not so much about that which they were called to do and accomplish in the midst of the earth, but rather how they walked with and how they followed Him as they were doing it. Jesus spoke about not being received in houses, being scourged in synagogues, being persecuted in the cities, as well as being hated of all men for His name’s sake, and yet in the midst of all of that Jesus called and invited His disciples to patiently endure. What’s more, is that Jesus would also emphatically call men to be fully and completely committed to Him as He would declare that whoever loved father, or mother, or brother, or sister, or daughter, or son more than Him was not worthy of Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these awesome truths and the words contained in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—particularly and especially when you read the words found in the parable of the good sower. Moreover, the divine mystery surrounding the parable of the sower and the seed lends a tremendous amount of truth concerning the sowing of the seed of the kingdom, and the reception of that seed within and among the hearts of men. It is necessary and imperative that we allow ourselves to truly understand and recognize that which Jesus is speaking and teaching in the parable, for it reveals a great deal concerning the sowing of the seed of the word of the kingdom, and the impact (or lack of an impact) that seed actually has within the hearts and lives of those who hear it. What’s more, is we would like to think that the truth surrounding this parable and the different hearts of those who heard the word concerning the kingdom would be limited solely and entirely to the days of Jesus the Christ when He taught and preached in the synagogues and in the streets, yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case at all. The same four soils which represent four different types of hearts are still present among us within this generation, and are just as prevalent among our generation as they were during the days of Jesus when He first delivered the parable.
In order to truly understand the words which are found in the parable which Jesus spoke unto those who heard Him teach and speak, it is necessary to consider the interpretation and the divine revelation of the parable. This was one of the few parables Jesus spoke during those days which He would provide the interpretation and meaning of—even if it was perhaps in private in the hearing of the disciples. Throughout the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ we find Jesus teaching and speaking many parables unto the crowds, unto the masses, and unto the multitudes which gathered themselves before and unto Him, and yet of those parables there were only a select few which we are actually provided any interpretation and revelation concerning the meaning that was contained therein. As you read the words found in the thirteenth chapter of this gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus responding to the disciples’ asking Him why He spoke unto the crowds in parables and did not speak plainly and clearly unto them. Jesus would quote the words which were spoken and prophesied by the prophet Isaiah concerning the eyes, the ears and the hearts of men, and would then reveal the meaning behind this specific parable. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the actual words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples concerning this parable, and the meaning surrounding and contained therein. Beginning with the eighteenth verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ unto His disciples who asked Him concerning speaking and teaching in parables:
“Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received the seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But 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 hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).
UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT! THEN COMETH THE WICKED ONE, AND CATCHETH AWAY THAT WHICH WAS SOWN IN HIS HEART! HEARETH THE WORD! WITH JOY RECEIVETH IT! HATH NOT ROOT IN HIMSELF! DURETH FOR A WHILE! WHEN TRIBULATION OR PERSECUTION ARISETH BECAUSE OF THE WORD, BY AND BY HE IS OFFENDED! HEARETH THE WORD! THE CAR OF THIS WORLD, AND THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES, CHOKE THE WORD! HE BECOMETH UNFRUITFUL! HE THAT RECEIVED THE WORD INTO GOOD GROUND! HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT! WHICH ALSO BEARETH FRUIT, AND BRINGETH FORTH FRUIT!
The more you read the words which Jesus spoke providing the interpretation of this parable, the more you will encounter and come face to face with the truth that not only is the seed sown the word of the kingdom, but that which the seed is sown is the hearts of men. Directly linked and connected to the seed being sown within the hearts of men is the ability to understand that which has been spoken. When speaking of both the seed sown by the way side, as well as the seed being sown in the good ground we find Jesus referencing the ability to understand the word which was sown into the heart. What is actually quite unique when you consider this reality is when you begin to realize that the seed which is the word of the kingdom is always sown into the hearts of men, and upon the sowing of that seed men will either understand that which has been sown, or men will have no understanding of what has been sown. It’s worth noting and pointing out that when reference the seed being sown along the way side and being sown in the good ground the underlying issue is that of understanding the word of the kingdom. A lack of understand the word of the kingdom is the breeding ground for the enemy and adversary to come in and snatch away, steal and rob that which was sown into the heart. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous truth of those words, for a lack of understanding concerning the word of the kingdom can directly result in—perhaps even invite—the enemy to come in and steal away that which was sown. It is something worth noting and pointing out that what Jesus is suggesting is the enemy and adversary capitalizing and taking advantage of the lack of understanding concerning the word of the kingdom, and coming in to steal away the word of the kingdom. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is what our response is when the word of the kingdom is sown into our hearts, and whether we seek the face of God for understanding concerning the word of the kingdom, or whether we simply allow the word to be sown within our hearts, and yet we make no conscious nor deliberate effort to seek an understanding of it. It should be noted in the Old Testament that the prophet emphatically declared that the people of God perished for a lack of knowledge—and while Jesus didn’t specifically speak in this parable about anyone perishing for a lack of knowledge, He did speak of the enemy and adversary coming in “like a flood” to “steal, to kill and to destroy” that which was sown into the hearts of men.
It is quite remarkable to read the interpretation of the parable of the sower and the seed, for the seed which fell by the wayside, as well as the seed which fell on good ground soil were both connected to an understanding of the word of the kingdom. It’s also worth noting that when the word of the kingdom is sown and there is a lack of understanding concerning the word, the enemy can and will seek to come in like a flood and steal away what was sown in the heart, while those who hear the word and understand the word not only bear much fruit, but also bring forth fruit. We must recognize and realize that one of the ultimate necessities within the life of the disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ is that of bearing fruit, and here we encounter the awesome reality that fruit is the ultimate byproduct and result of not only receiving the word of the kingdom, but also understanding the word of the kingdom. This concept of bearing and bringing forth fruit is not only mentioned in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but it is also mentioned in the upper room discourse when Jesus spoke to His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed. It is something truly astounding to think about and consider the awesome reality that one of the greatest and ultimate needs within the life of a disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ is that we bear and bring forth much fruit. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul also speaks of this bearing and bringing forth fruit when he wrote his epistle which was sent unto the churches in Galatia. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, and the words written in the epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatian churches:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. DO men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:1-17).
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, hersies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, empterance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:18-26).
It is quite obvious from the words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the words which He spoke unto His disciples in the Upper Room that one of the single greatest necessities within the life of a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ is that they bear fruit—and not only bear fruit, but bear much fruit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for when you read the words found in the parable of the sower and the seed you will find the underlying reality concerning the sowing of the seed is the heart, and it is within the heart that the word of the kingdom is sown. It is with the heart that we truly understand that word which was spoken concerning the kingdom, and it is both hearing and understanding the word of the kingdom of heaven that we are able to bear and bring forth fruit. Within this parable Jesus reveals that the part of the parable that describes the seed being sown by the way side represents the word of the kingdom being sown into the heart of that individual who heard the word of the kingdom and yet did not—perhaps even could not—understand the word of the kingdom. It would be in and from that place of a lack of understanding concerning the word of the kingdom that the enemy and adversary was then able to take what was sown and steal and destroy it. The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will find that it wasn’t merely the enemy and adversary that threatens the word of the kingdom which was sown into the heart of a man. Jesus would go on to speak of that one who also heard the word of the kingdom and who initially received it with joy, however, that joy surrounding the word of the kingdom—perhaps even that joy of walking with and following Jesus—would be short lived as persecution, suffering, tribulation, trials and hardship would arise within their life, and they in turn grow and become offended. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest dangers facing the disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ is offense in this life—and not merely offense, but also offense in the midst of the persecution, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of tribulation, in the midst of trials, and in the midst of affliction and opposition. I am absolutely and completely convinced that two of the greatest tools and weapons in the arsenal of the enemy and adversary is deception and offense, for the enemy can and will use both in an attempt to utterly and completely destroy the saints of God.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the reality of the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ enduring for a while, and when tribulation and offense rise up in the midst of the their lives, they grow and become offended in the midst of that persecution. In fact, if you read the words which are found in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse you will find Him speaking concerning the Last Days—and not only speaking concerning the Last Days, but revealing some of the greatest dangers, snares, and traps that can and will be present during those days. In fact, I would dare say that the parable of the sower and the seed is a powerful picture of the Christian life, and those different types of individuals who heard the word of the kingdom and never walked with God, those individuals who walked with Jesus for a certain period of time and turn away and choose to walk with Him no more, and those who would continue to walk with and follow Him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that three of the greatest passages found in Scripture that help illustrate this point—the narrative of the rich young ruler, the account of those who turned away and walked no more with Jesus as written in the sixth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John, and the words which Jesus spoke in the Olivet discourse concerning the Last Days. With this all in mind I invite you to consider these three narratives which speak to and reveal the deceitfulness of riches choking the life out of the work of the kingdom in the heart of the rich young ruler, men and women hearing the word of the kingdom and choosing to walk no more with Jesus upon being offended at the words which He spoke, and Jesus’ words concerning men and women being offended in the Last Days when persecution, suffering, opposition and affliction arise in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the following passages of Scripture concerning these three different and distinct realities:
“And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto Him, Lord, everymore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunge; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at Him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came from down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, DOTH THIS OFFEND YOU? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where HE was before? If it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed no, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. FROM THAT TIME MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES WENT BACK, AND WALKED NO MORE WITH HIM. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:28-71).
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these tings be? And what shall be the signs of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, TAKE HEED THAT NO MAN DECEIVE YOU. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. THEN SHALL THEY DELIVER YOU UP TO BE AFFLICTED, AND SHALL KILL YOU: AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL NATIONS FOR MY NAME’S SAKE. AND THEN SHALL MANY BE OFFENDED, AND SHALL BETRAY ONE ANOTHER, AND SHALL HATE ONE ANOTHER. AND MANY FALSE PROPHETS SHALL RISE, AND SHALL DECEIVE MANY. AND BECAUSE INIQUITY SHALL ABOUND, THE LOVE OF MANY SHALL WAX COLD. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel o the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:1-14).
Each of these passages found in the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle John not only points to the tremendous reality of men and women turning away and choosing to walk no more with Jesus the Christ, but also what would cause men and women to turn their hearts and their backs on the living God. The meaning, the revelation and the interpretation of the seed which fell among thorns, and the interpretation of the seed which fell upon the stony ground are two powerful statements concerning those who might very well initially walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, however, there would be those who would have the seed of the word of the kingdom choked within their hearts and lives by the deceitfulness of riches, as well as the cares of this world. Although we can’t necessarily speak concerning the rich young ruler and the cares of the world, we can without a doubt see a powerful picture of the deceitfulness of riches choking the life of the word of the kingdom out of the rich young ruler. Consider how the rich young ruler would enter into the presence of Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and he might have even at one point desired eternal life—that was until he realized and learned that eternal life would require more of him than what he was willing to give. Jesus wouldn’t speak to him about that good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus would speak to him about that which he needed to let go of that he might have eternal life—and not only have eternal life, but also to come and follow Him. It’s interesting and worth noting that the words which Jesus spoke unto the rich young ruler would not only touch the realm of inheriting eternal life, but it would also touch the realm of being able to walk with and follow Jesus. You will notice that Jesus instructed the rich young ruler to sell all that he had, to give to the poor, and then to follow Jesus, thus indicating that it was not necessarily about what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, but what was holding him back and what he needed to give up to inherit eternal life, and to follow Jesus.
The narrative of the rich young ruler aptly demonstrates how the deceitfulness of riches can indeed choke the life out of the heart of that one who might initially seek after and desire eternal life, and desire to hear the truth of the kingdom of heaven. This rich young ruler would hear the commandments which were commanded through Moses, and this rich young ruler would hear truth concerning the kingdom of heaven, yet the kingdom of heaven, eternal life, and walking with and following Jesus would require of him the need to sell all that he had and to give to the poor. Unfortunately for the rich young ruler the great riches he had within his life would completely and utterly choke the word and truth of the kingdom out of his heart and life, and he would actually leave the presence of Jesus discouraged and sad—not only because of the great wealth and riches he had, but also knowing that he needed to give it all up that he might have eternal life and follow Jesus. Concerning the narrative found within the gospel written by the apostle John we find men and women being offended with the sayings of Jesus, for it would be the sayings of Jesus that would ask of them that which they did not understand, and that which they could not receive within their hearts. What’s more, is that the narrative which is found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew would point to and reveal that persecution and suffering can and will in the last days cause many men and women to become and grow offended—and not only grow offended, but also to turn their hearts and their backs on Jesus the Christ, and never to walk with Him again. Jesus aptly and powerfully warned that there would be those in the Last Days who would become and grow offended when persecution, when suffering, when affliction, when tribulation and when trials would manifest itself within their lives and in the midst of the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that the parable of the sower and the seed is not only a powerful picture of the entire landscape of Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, Jerusalem and the surrounding region during the days and times of Jesus, but is also a powerful picture of the landscape within this generation in which we are presently living , as the same types of soil and the same types of hearts and responses are still present among us in this generation.
As you continue on within this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus speaking forth more parables in the hearing of His disciples. After just explaining unto His disciples the meaning of the parable of the sower and the seed Jesus would then deliver unto them another parable concerning the kingdom of heaven being likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. While men slept, however, the enemy of this man who had sown good seed would come and sow tares among the wheat, and would go on his way. When the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then also appeared the tares. The servants of the household would come unto the man and ask if he had not sown good seed into his field, as well as describing how there were tares which were also among the blades which had sprung up. It’s interesting and worth noting that the master of the house declared unto them that an enemy had come in and sowed the tares among the wheat in an attempt to destroy the wheat which was sown into the field. It’s worth noting that instead of pulling up and removing the tares the master of the house and of the field would allow them to remain and continue to grow with the wheat, for if they had begun pulling up the tares they would have also pulled up the wheat. The master of the house and of the field would allow them both to grow up together unto the time of the harvest, and it would be at the time of the harvest the master of the field and of the house would call for both the tares and the wheat to be gathered together with the wheat being gathered up first to be stored in the barn, while the tares were gathered up to be burned in the fire. This is undoubtedly a powerful picture of the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth as within the earth there would grow both tares and wheat, and yet the tares would not be pulled up, removed and gathered together until the time of the harvest. It would only be at the time of the harvest when both the wheat and the tares would be gathered together, and would be separated—one to be burned in the fire, and the other to be stored in the barn. Consider if you will the interpretation of the parable of the tares and the wheat which was spoken and revealed unto the disciples in the house when they came unto Jesus asking Him the meaning of the parable:
“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto Him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and bured in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:36-43).