Manual Seeds: A Commentary on the Parables of Christ

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The disciples followed Jesus by faith. They did not understand everything, but asked. The crowds did not, on the whole, follow by faith, but demanded a compelling sign. Further revelation was not given to them. They are like the crowd that Isaiah dealt with. Isaiah lived about years earlier than this. He announced the judgment of God on the nation for its unbelief. That judgment would take the form of judicial hardening--they would hear but not understand, the preaching would make their spirits dull. In other words, the message would only harden their resistance to God.

The Parable Of The Sower And The Seed (Matthew ) |

This judgment may seem harsh, until one realizes that the nation of Israel in B. And yet in their sin and rebellion they had moved farther away from God than the people of the earlier centuries. Finally God gave them up, meaning He ceased to work in their hearts by His Spirit to reveal His truth to them. Rather, He let them alone to have their own way. And their natural way was to reject the words of the prophet. This gives us a good idea of what the psalmists and prophets meant when they said to seek the Lord while He may be found.

While the prophet will be there proclaiming the message, if God is not causing it to take seed in their hearts, there will be no response of faith. And God will stop doing that if people persist in rebelling against Him. In the days of Jesus this prophetic message of Isaiah found its fullest meaning. The people had been listening to Jesus preach and teach, had seen the authenticating miracles, and yet accused Him of Satanic works and rejected His word.

Some of those people would be hardened in their unbelief; and the simple theological truth is that the revelation of the mystery of the kingdom was not given to them. They might intellectually hear the parable and make something of it — but it would not make sense to them because of their hardened unbelief, rejection of Jesus, and pre-conceived idea of what the kingdom should be.

The Savior was still among them, and they could still follow Him and trust Him. But God knew the hearts of the people, and if they did not believe the words and the works of Jesus in their midst, no further revelation would be given to them. He had already said that revelation was necessary for people to know Him and to know the Father Matt. How long would the hardening continue? The failure of most of the Jews to discern the spiritual things would lead to judgment.

And part of the judgment was their being hardened in unbelief. This hardening was a subject Paul picked up in Romans 11, a hardening which God used to turn to the Gentiles with the Gospel and raise up a people who would make Israel jealous.

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The disciples were blessed above any others who had come before, both prophets and righteous men. They looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, but the disciples received Him, walked with Him, witnessed His mighty works, and were shown things that the prophets never knew. The disciples truly believed in Jesus, and so accepted what He was saying, namely, that the message of the kingdom was at a critical turning point.

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The Interpretation of the Parable Jesus now lays out the parallel ideas to explain the meaning. He does not explain every detail — no explanation is given for the sower, or the path, or the rocky ground, or the diverse yield. The general point is that the seed is the message of the kingdom. It receives varied responses from the people; and it will take time to develop because of the difficult times and difficult people. But in time the message will produce a harvest. The Israelites understood farming because it was their culture, so they could appreciate what Jesus was saying, whether they got the intended analogy or not.

Parable of the Mustard Seed

They should have gotten it, because it was used in the Old Testament already. Psalm spoke of the perseverance of the sower with tears and trouble, indicating that eventually he would bring in his sheaves. That psalm was written at the restoration of Israel from the captivity.

It was difficult, because they were now settled in their homes and businesses in Babylonia-Persia. But the principle was that if they continue to sow, if they continued to expend any effort for the greater cause, there would be a result, there would be people coming down the road from the east to return to the land. The seed that is sown is the message of the kingdom. The soils are the people, the human hearts, who make the decision about the message. They can be compared to the different kinds of soils who receive the seed which does not mean they became Christians, but heard and considered the message.

The good ground received the seed, the word, it took root and grew, meaning it was believed and it produced the fruit of righteousness and obedience. Some hear the truth, but like hardened paths they do not let it penetrate, and before long Satan takes the truth away. If people do not receive and respond to the word with faith, their opportunity will be stolen by the evil one.

Some hear the message with great joy, but like the rocky soil he does not let it take root. It is a superficial response like the people who followed Jesus all over.

"10 Parables of Jesus" by Jamie Buckingham

But because it was not received with genuine thoughtfulness and faith, under external pressures, it quickly fell away. They were outwardly enthusiastic about Jesus, but inwardly they did not take it to heart. There are a lot of these folks in churches. Some hear the message, not with joy now because they are as the ground under the thorns. Life has too many other troubles and commitments for them to take the message to heart.

Worries about worldly things and devotion to wealth choke out the message of the kingdom. They would have to give up too much to make a commitment to Christ. No fruit results, and that shows that there was no life. The person remains in the thicket of the problems and cares of life. But some hear and believe. These are the disciples, of course. They are only marginally better than the other people in their understanding, but they are on the right way. Their hearts receive the message with faith, and the seed will take root.

Matthew 13:1-23

The message of the kingdom will gradually grow and produce results in them, in varying quantities, and then not instantly. But they are the good ground. There is much more that can be said about the parable and about parables, but this will be enough for now. The main point of the passage is the meaning of this parable. The explanation of parables is explanatory for it and the others to come. The parables will teach people the form that the kingdom will take before the great coming in glory of the king. It is a mystery form of the kingdom. In this parable the sower sows the seed.

God prepares the ground that will receive the message by faith. But the ground, the human heart, might be hardened in unbelief, only superficially happy about the message, or too entangled with the cares of this world. There are many reasons that people do not respond by faith to the word. To those who have, more will be given. We like the Sower Christ at first have the responsibility to proclaim the message of the kingdom, the gospel, to the world. It is the Word of God that will produce results. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come". Now I hope I have reminded you enough what a parable is over these last number of weeks, as we have embarked on dealing with the four parables that are in Mark's gospel - four alone. We spent two weeks on the first parable, because we said it was ' The Parable on Parables ', and we looked at exactly what a parable was.

Then the following week we looked actually at the facets and details of the parable of the sower, the seed, and the soils.

A parable, of course, we have found, is a comparison. It means to put one thing alongside another, to compare them. Some of you have been saying to me on the way out that at school or at Sunday School you learnt that little quip that 'a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning'. Now I didn't say it to you at the door, I hadn't the heart, but I don't really like that particular definition, because in a certain way it sort of tells you that the meaning has something to do with heaven, when in essence most of the meanings in the parables have a lot to do with earth - maybe more about earth and heaven.