Matthew 13:1-23 – If You Died Right Now, What Soil Would You Be?

Posted: December 21, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 13:1-23
The Parable of the Four Soils

The greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs or rap songs that have stood the test of time are those that tell great stories but yet do so in a relatively short period of time because of the nature of popular music. Great songs make you think about the meanings of the lyrics. Since writers of modern popular songs have maybe a maximum total of five minutes to get their story told. So, the lyrics have to be pregnant with meaning. It’s not like when you and I sit down with someone and have a conversation where we can explain fully what we mean and give all the back story to what we are talking about. In popular music, you have to tell your story in symbolic language and you hope that the listeners will combine the lyrics, the mood of the music, and all to grab the understanding of the meaning of the song. Only the songs that have that combination of great lyrics and great music to support the lyrics withstand the test of time. Sometimes there are songs with average lyrics but great music that survive but it is only those songs that have that great combination of lyrics and music that are the classics. Great songs tell stories. Great songs make us think. Great songs make us cry. What is your favorite song of all time? Is it Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepellin? Is it Jumper by Third Eye Blind? Is it Good Riddence (Time of Your Life) by Green Day? Is it Hey There, Delilah by the Plain White T’s? Is it Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio? Is it Purple Rain by Prince? Is it November Rain by Guns N Roses? All these songs of different genres and different eras are some of my favorites of all time. Each tells a unique story and each one gave me lyrics that made me think, made me sad, made wonder why the world is the way it is. Great songs make you walk away and think about what it means long after you hear it. Great songs connect with something in you that makes you go “a-ha” … that reminds me that “Take on Me” by the group “a-ha!” was a great song and an even better video, but I digress … back to the point … Great songs make you search for understanding of what the artist is trying to say. And it is weird too isn’t it that there are some songs that are generally considered classics that do not connect with you personally. Sometimes, you just don’t get it. Like there are some rap songs that are considered great but because I have a slow mind that I so much trouble following the rapid-fire lyrics that I can’t understand the song. There rock songs like that too. “One Week” by Bare Naked Ladies is one of those songs that I could’ve really appreciated if I could have just slowed the lyrics down. I like the song but it is not one of my favorites of all time simply because of the rapid pace of the lyrics of the song.

Why do I mention my love of great modern music here? I love music of all kinds. I didn’t even touch on the country songs or the Christian contemporary songs that I love that tell great stories. We could have made the previous paragraph go on forever if I did that. However, the reason that I mention them here is that modern songs are like modern-day parables. They tell stories that make you think. They make you want to figure out the meaning of the lyrics so that you can take away something profound from the song, something that you can relate to. Jesus parables were kind of like our modern day music, quick stories that must be thought about after the hearing. Jesus’ parables took something familiar and used it as an illustration of something unfamiliar. He took something that was easy for the listener to relate to and use it to impart eternal truths about the kingdom of God. Like sometimes we do not catch the meaning of a song and we do not consider it a classic, but others do get and consider it a great song. So, it is with Jesus’ parables. Some get and some don’t. Today’s parable is one Jesus’ most popular parables of all time. It’s a classic. It is one of His greatest hits! In Matthew 13:1-23, we read:

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

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.’[a]

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

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.”
Luckily for us, like the disciples, Jesus actually explains this parable. Kind of like an interview on a talk show where Jesus is sitting down and explaining the lyrics of the mega-hit song, “The Parable of the Four Soils.” Imagine Jesus sitting down with Jimmy Fallon and explaining this song, I mean, parable. Basically, the gospel message has four reactions to it. It’s that simple really.

There are those that hear the message but don’t understand it. These are the ones with hard hearts. These are the ones not ready for the gospel. These are the ones that do not want to change their view of the world and of eternity. These are the ones living for the here and now. These are the ones who ignore God’s message or turn their nose up at it. These are the combinations of those that are simply living for themselves and for the moment with no concern or care about the eternal life along with those who blatantly say there is no God. These are the ones who call Christians fools and hyprocrites. These are the ones who call faith in a higher power as the opiate of a bygone era. These are the ones that think we have evolved by our mystic past and simply believe in ourselves. And these are also the people that simply live like hell as the saying goes. They use people. They hurt people. They crush people all in the name of getting what I want when I want it. These are the people that hear the message and call it folly. These are the people that might believe there is a God but just live as if God is something they are going to consider later because to accept faith is to give up a lifestyle that is still working for them. These are the hard hearts that hear but don’t understand and don’t want to understand.

Those who hear the message but fall away when times get tough. These are the people believe that God will bless them if they just believe. The more I believe the more I am going to be blessed. These are the spiritual warm fuzzy folks. These are the ones that have those moment where they think they accepted Jesus but there is no real life change. These are the people that think Jesus is going to make all their problems go away. These are the folks that think Jesus is going to make the life better instantly. Guess what though? Jesus never promised us better times just because we accept Him as our Savior. Most of the time, things get worse before they get better, if they get better at all. Throughout history, those who have accepted Christ as their Savior have ended up with harder lives than before their acceptance of Christ. Jesus says that if you are expecting success or better times as the basis for accepting Him then you are not really accepting Him and you will fall away at the first sign of hard times or difficulty.

Those who hear the message but it gets crowded out by worldly concerns. Are you a Christian around your Christian friends but live like hell the rest of the week? Do people outside your church even know that that you are a Christian? Are you ashamed of Christ in public? Jesus says when we give greater credence to the world than we do to Him, He will deny us before the Father. When we let worldly concerns crowd out our faith, do we really have it at all? Are we just playing games with Christ? We go to church but we haven’t really accepted Christ. We go to church to give ourselves good cover. We don’t really get this stuff but we go just so we can be seen. We have no intention of being generous. I need my boat more than I feel compelled to give sacrificially to my church and its ministries in the community and in the world. I need my time off more than I need to help the homeless. I need my vacation in the Bahamas more than I need to go on a mission trip to South America. I need to leave my wife and young kids for a younger woman with no kids because being the spiritual leader of my home and fulfilling my marriage covenant and being a father is too much responsibility, takes too much time, and keeps me from having the fun I deserve. These are the ones that hear the gospel, act like they understand it, but have never really accepted it as part of who they are. They have not been changed by the gospel from the inside out. The world to them is more important than Christ. These are the ones that Jesus weeps over the most. The ones that act like they are Christians but have no real life change.

Then, there are those who hear the message and receive it into their hearts and produce disciples. These are the ones who have been profoundly changed from the inside out by accepting Christ as their Savior and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. These are the ones that seek after God’s heart. These are the ones that are first to admit in all humility that they still struggle with sin on a daily basis and thank God for the provision of Jesus Christ. These are the ones that that get it. These are the ones that realize that we are sinners who are condemned by our first sin and nothing we can do can make us right with God because of our sin nature. These are the ones that realize that one sin taints us. One sin condemns us to hell regardless of how much good we do. These are the ones that get it that we cannot do more good than bad and that be good enough. Just one sin condemns. We are forever condemned without the intervention of God into history in Jesus who came to offer himself as the sacrifice and accept the punishment for sin that we deserve. These are the ones that are truly overjoyed at their salvation and live a life of generosity in time, talent, and resources to serve their Savior who saved them from the precipice of hell. These are the ones that still have joy when times are hard. These are the ones that follow God’s calling even when it takes them out of their comfortable life. These are the ones that want to please God in everything they do. These are the ones that are changed from the inside out by the Holy Spirit who live lives of eternal thanksgiving. These are the ones that you know by talking to them that they are Christ followers. These are the ones whose actions scream out that they are Christ followers. These are the ones that Jesus loves and keeps in the palm of His hand.

Which one of these four groups are you today? Do you fit into one of the first three categories? Think about eternity? Do you want to continue ignoring or playing games with Jesus? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. You could be on vacation in Las Vegas having the time of your life and someone drives their car into a crowd and ends your life just like what happened last night? Where do you stand with God? There is no time like the present to take care of your eternity. Come to Jesus! He wants you to be a part of the group that hears the gospel and gets it. It’s never too late until it’s too late? Where do you stand right now? If you died right now or today, where would you spend eternity? Listen to the gospel message and let it into your heart! It’s never too late until it’s too late! Amen and Amen.

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