Summary of passages: Matthew 13:1-8: The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake. Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach. He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils. Those that fell in no soil got eaten up. Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root. Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.
Matthew 13:18-23: Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word. Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path. Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places. Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns. Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.
Luke 8:4-15: Luke records the same parable but a shorter version. BSF has us read Jesus’ explanation here (but not in Matthew verses 10-17 which is not sitting well with me) about why he speaks in parables. The parables allow more people to understand the Word. The disciples have been gifted by God with an understanding of the kingdom but many have not received such a gift.
Important differences in the passage: Luke is succinct and a bit better. He explains for those who don’t mature in the word fall away in times of life’s worries, riches, and pleasures. Only those with a good and noble heart and who PERSEVERE retain God’s word and thus produces a good crop.
3a) A parable is a short, simple, everyday story with a point meant to convey a complex idea simply. The definition of a parable according to Webster’s Dictionary is “comparison; a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”
b) Yes and no. He had been performing a lot of miracles as his primary way of showing and explaining the kingdom of God until he became frustrated in chapter 11 as people still failed to believe. So he is beginning to switch to more stories to reach a wider audience.
It’s difficult to answer a definitive yes here because we only have a handful of Jesus’ teachings and actions recorded. So much of his life we just don’t know.
c) Luke says the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).
4) ”it [seed] was trampled on”; “withered because they had no moisture”; ”the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved”; “in the time of testing they fall away”; “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures and they do not mature”; “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
b) No soil at all–could not grow. This represents those who hear the word but do not understand it.
Rocky, thin soil–grew quickly but died in the hot sun and withered with no root. Those who hear the word, take it in, but then fall when trouble arises.
Soil with thorns–plants grew but were choked. Those who hear the word but are choked out by things in this world such as worries, wealth, and pleasures.
Good soil–produced a crop. Those who hear the Word, understand it, retain it, sow it in their hearts, and persevere.
6) John 14:15: Those who obey God’s commands have good soil
John 15:5: Those who remain in God bear much fruit
Acts 5:29: Those who obey God rather than men have good soil
Philippians 2:12-13: Obey God who works in you for His purpose
Conclusions: Many beefs today. First, you all know I hate skipping around. I am very chronologically oriented. I don’t understand why we didn’t read Jesus’ reason for telling parables in Matthew yet we read it in Luke and we were asked about it as well. Why would we save that to come back to? I guess we’ll find out soon. No logic to me here.
Question 6 all had the same answer: those that obey God have good soil. And those that obey God more have better soil. The more you obey, the greater the soil. Fabulous. Did we really need 4 verses to understand that? No. Should be intuitive.
Finally, for me, this lesson falls right at our Christmas break. The next lesson is Part 2 in January. So why split the two parts for a month? We all know we don’t remember much after a month off if we do our lessons in December (which I do). Don’t have a part one of a lesson and then wait a month for a part two. Surely the timing here could be better.
End Notes: Why did Jesus tell parables? We must remember in ancient times most people were illiterate and farmers. They had no experience with wrestling with foreign words and had a very limited vocabulary. Jesus spoke in parables so they would remember his teachings, hold their interest, and be relatable to their difficult lives.
Also, as Jesus explains in the part we skipped, parables were meant to challenge the listener, to grow those deeper in the word, and to lessen the hardness of those not receptive to the Word. They began in the face of growing opposition to Jesus so to lessen that, Jesus told parables. In that sense, they were a form of mercy to those hardened against him because the message was hidden.
Here, Jesus is floating offshore in a boat. Cool, huh? I’d like to attend church on a lakeside.
The meaning of the word parable, which is Greek, is “to throw alongside of”, in this case thrown alongside the truth. One commentator called them “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”
The soil represents the responses to the Word, which is us. The soil on the path are those who never hear the word with understanding. The soil that withers quickly are those who respond quickly but also wither away in the face of tribulations. The thorny soil represents those who respond and grow in the Word but fall away in the face earthly things and competition for their attention such as material goods and pleasures. And the good soil is those who whole-heartedly embrace God and His truth and bear fruit because of it.
At times in our lives, we are all of these. Sometimes we ignore God, we allow other things and events to take precedence over Him, and at times we bear His fruit.
Notice the Sower (God) is the same as is the seed (His word). The only thing that changes is the soil (us).