Matthew 13:1-23 records the first of the parables Jesus told, the parable of the farmer scattering the seeds, which fell on four types of soil. The first three types represent those who devote a minimum amount of time to God and His Word, whose main goal in life is to acquire as much knowledge, wealth and comfort of this world as possible. The fourth soil represents those who learn and apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives, yielding a huge harvest.
Jesus began His preaching, teaching and healing ministry in the Galilean village of Capernaum with a call to be prepared for the Kingdom of God. It was only after the Jews rejected Jesus and His call for repentance, did He begin imparting spiritual truths by parables. People thronged to Him either out of curiosity, with the intent to get healed, or to find fault with Him. When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He replied with a quote from the book of Isaiah where it is recorded that God sanctified and sent the prophet with His message of love and forgiveness to an unrepentant and stubborn people who would not give up their sins and turn to a loving and caring God (Isa.5,6:9-10). Their consistent and deliberate hard-heartedness compelled God to harden their hearts! This brought them to a point of no return! They became spiritually blind, deaf and devoid of understanding! They were in a state of spiritual bankruptcy. A terrible thing to happen in one’s life!
When Jesus taught by parables, there were hundreds of people around Him (Matt. 13:2). However, none of them cared to ask the Lord what the parables meant, or what they were supposed to do about them. Isn’t it amazing that even the greatest Teacher could not drive home the life-imparting message to the crowds! Could it be the Master Teacher’s inability to teach that caused the people to remain in their ignorance? Let’s find out.
The Truth Seekers
Being the Son of God, Jesus knew every man’s thoughts and intents. He knew who hungered and thirsted for righteousness and who did not (Matt.12:25; Jn.2:23-25;10:14;Acts1:24). There were very few in the crowd, besides the 12 disciples, who sought the truth honestly and were eager to know the precious truths hidden in the parables.
The method of teaching adopted by Jesus would compel the listener or learner to think and ask probing questions that would reveal the truth. It facilitated a two-way communication between the Teacher and the learners. Sadly, the absence of thinking and questioning among the crowd showed their lack of eagerness to know the truth that could set them free from their deadly ignorance! Most of them remained ignorant about the Teacher who was sent by God to teach them the Kingdom lessons and to save them from sin’s bondage. They were so close to the truth and yet so far!
Our Attitude To God’s Word
Today we have the whole counsel of God in our hands—the Old and New Testaments—teaching us the eternal truths of God’s Kingdom. We also have the parables of our Lord explained in our own languages! What is our attitude to God’s Word? Is it one that reflects our disinterest or misplaced priorities that compel us to give the least or second place to God’s Word? Or is it one that echoes the Psalmist’s words, “Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long”?
The Lord concealed the truth from those who were too stubborn or prejudiced to understand what was being taught. Shouldn’t we beware of the ever-lurking danger of being entangled in the cares and busyness of this life that can deprive us of our rightful place at the Master’s feet? Isn’t it sad and tragic that the majority of church-goers and church members today are satisfied with a superficial and intellectual knowledge of God’s Word and its divine Author? They do not have the time nor do they have the patience to dig into God’s Word to acquire its precious treasure. They lack the zeal and love the Psalmist expresses for the spiritual manna (Psa. 119:97).
The Life Application Study Bible makes this observation on the parable of the farmer and the seed, “We hear with our ears, but there is a deeper kind of listening with the mind and heart that is necessary in order to gain spiritual understanding from Jesus’ words. Some people in the crowd were looking for evidence to use against Jesus; others truly wanted to learn and grow. Jesus’ teachings were, and are, for the honest seekers.” Therefore, the malady lies with the people who were busy and disinterested, certainly not with Jesus.
This World’s Deceptive Appeal
The ‘rich fool’ in the parable of Jesus died spiritually bankrupt. He did not have a rich relationship with God. Proverbs 23:4 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”
Is the Lord still waiting for you to take up your cross and follow Him? Do we really mean it when we sing, “All to Jesus I surrender,” “The world behind me, the cross before me,” “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee”?
A. W. Tozer writes, “Satan once tried to bring about the downfall of Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Here is sufficient proof that the devil is wise, but not wise enough. He knew fallen human nature and just how to handle it. He knew the power of pomp and circumstance to charm the sinful heart and bring it into captivity. In presenting to the Man Jesus the glory of the world, he was shrewdly taking advantage of a known weakness in the human race. The trick should have worked, and it would have worked but for one thing: This was no fallen man Satan was attempting to seduce; it was a sinless Man full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whose penetrating glance pierced the world’s attractive exterior and saw what was inside… Beneath its gaudy allurements, He saw corruption and decay. He knew its glory was but bait to catch foolish victims… The delusive quality of all human glory is taught throughout the Bible, and with bold emphasis in the New Testament.”
Will you, dear reader, pause and ask yourself, “As a child of God, are my priorities based on the Father’s plan for me? Do I know my heavenly Father’s plans? Am I walking the ‘narrow path’ that Christ wants me to tread on, no matter what the cost?” Having asked these questions, will you renew your commitment to Christ and ask Him to give you the wisdom to recognise and the courage to resist the world’s deceptive appeal and to stay clear of it? God will certainly honour your prayer of commitment and save you from the spiritual bankruptcy of losing your precious soul.
What Jesus said to His disciples, He says to you and me today, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul…” (Matt.16:24-26).
Be Rich In The Word Of Christ
I am sure you have read Colossians 3:1-17 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 many times. I encourage you to read these texts again, asking God to speak to you afresh. Although we are mere ‘jars of clay’ vulnerable to the cares and pressures of this life, we need not succumb to these pressures, nor need we despair, because we have the treasure of God’s all-surpassing power in us. We can tap this powerful treasure within us by allowing the living Christ and His Word to direct our lives. This will inflict a death-blow to our earthly nature and create in us the nature of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. We achieve lasting success and prosperity by meditating on God’s Word day and night and obeying Him implicitly (Josh.1:8). Day and night meditation does not mean sitting with the Bible 24x7. It does mean studying and applying the Biblical truths to our lives daily.
Listen to the gentle words of our Lord, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt.11:28-30).
Let us, therefore, put away the burdens and cares of this life and be yoked to Jesus, our gentle and loving Master. Let us fear and reverence Him, who alone is our foundation and eternal Treasure (Isa.33:3-6)!