- Matt. 13:1-30, 36-43
- Mark 4:21-29
- Matt. 13:31-33, 44-52, 34-35; Mark 4:33-34
Jesus taught in a number of different styles, but the most common teaching technique that He used was parables. A parable is a short story which illustrates a moral truth or principle, often by comparing things commonly found in nature or human life. Today's reading covers a handful of Jesus' parables, including the parable of the sower, which will be the focus of today's devotional. Before we look at the parable of the sower, let's consider why Jesus used parables to explain GOD's will.
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
(Matt. 13:10-15 NIV)
In other words, to paraphrase what Jesus said, the reason He taught in parables is because it separates those who deeply long to know the truth from those who don't. To those who are seeking, Jesus' parables open their eyes to the mysteries of the kingdom of GOD, but to those who are just looking for the next miracle or the next sign or the next meal, they'll just hear these "silly stories" that don't make any sense.
Now, consider the parable of the sower:
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
(Matt. 13:3-9 NKJV)
Jesus then explained the meaning of the parable to His disciples:
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
(Matt. 13:18-23 NIV)
There are four types of responses to the good news of Jesus. Three choices lead to rejection of the good news and eternity in hell. The fourth, the good soil, leads to acceptance and abundant life—eternal life. The most beautiful thing about this parable is that you and I—and every person—get to choose for ourselves what type of soil that we will be. Choose fertile soil. GOD help us to hear and to see!