That Witness Series – Matthew 13:1-9
Intro: The heart is a hard-working marvel. It can keep on beating automatically even if all other nerves were severed. And what a beat! It beats an average of 75 times a minute, forty million times a year, or two-and-a-half billion times in a life of 70 years. At each beat, the average adult heart discharges about four ounces of blood. This amounts to three thousand gallons a day or 650,000 gallons a year—enough to fill more than 81 tank cars of 8,000 gallons each. The heart does enough work in one hour to lift a 150-pound man to the top of a three-story building, enough energy in twelve hours to lift a 65-ton tank car one foot off the ground, or enough power in seventy years to lift the largest battleship afloat completely out of the water. If a Christian would use their full potential they would get to the heart of the matter!
For the last 13 weeks I have shared messages from the book of Matthew all about the Kingdom of God and the Christians role to be a witness in it. Jesus Christ was the master teacher! He had the unique ability to take scenes from everyday life and use them to teach profound spiritual truths, such is the case with the passage today. As Jesus sat by the seaside teaching, He began to talk about an image with which everyone present was familiar. He talked about a man taking seed into a field. He pictured that man casting the seed upon the earth. This seed fell upon the ground and landed upon differing types of soils. Some of the seed brought forth fruit, other seed did not. Jesus used this common image to teach those who heard Him about the condition of the human heart. Here, we see that the sower is the Holy Spirit, the seed is the Gospel of grace and the soil is the human heart. From His words, we learn that the human heart is like soil, it can either receive the seed of the Gospel and produce a harvest of spiritual fruit, or it can be unprepared and produce nothing of value for the glory of the name of God. Jesus sits by the seaside teaching once again and through the picture of the sower and the spreading of the seed, He comes to the heart of the matter! “We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10 (NIV)
Text: Matthew 13:1-9 (NKJV)
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And 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!"
Application: The only difference between these soils was fruit!
The sower in this parable is a man who goes into his field with the intention of raising a crop and gleaning a harvest. He expects to reap a profit from the crop he is sowing. Such is the case with the Lord God. He sent His Son into the world to die and He sends His Spirit into the world to convict lost people of their sins so that He might reap a spiritual harvest to the glory of His name: ‘And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8 1.
1. The Compacted Soil: vs. 4, 19
“And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.” Matthew 13:4
The “way side” refers to the narrow footpaths that ran beside and through the fields. These were the roads of the day and the soil on them had become as hard as concrete from the feet of the travelers and animals that had walked upon them. When the seed fell on the footpath, it could not penetrate the soil and it remained there in the open, only to be devoured by the fowls of the air. We are told that this speaks of the person who hears the Gospel, but who doesn't “understand it”. They cannot make the connection between the claims of the Gospel and their own life. Maybe they are drenched in sin and refuse to believe. Maybe they are calloused and cold toward the things of God and refuse to hear. Maybe they have hardened their hearts for years against the call of the Gospel and like a path trampled underfoot for centuries, they have become hard hearted! Whatever their need, they are hard hearted and the seed of the Gospel cannot penetrate the soil of their heart. They hear the Gospel and dismiss it as foolishness: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
When this happens, the devil and his followers will snatch away the Gospel seed by diverting the mind and helping the person become even more hardened against God. This person has a heart that is not prepared for a work of grace leading to salvation.
2. The Crippled Soil: vs. 5-6, 20-21
“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. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
These stony places are common in Palestine. Often there will be an outcropping of limestone rock covered by a thin layer of topsoil. This soil looks like it is ready to be sown. This ground looks good and productive and seed cast here will germinate and quickly spring up into a promising plant. But, because there is no depth of soil, as soon as the sun beats down on the tender plant, it withers and dies without producing any fruit. This kind of soil speaks of the heart that makes an emotional response to the presentation of the Gospel. Perhaps this person heard the Gospel and said, “Well, I've tried everything else, maybe that is what I need! I might as well give Jesus a try” Or, perhaps they came to an altar and prayed because a friend did. Perhaps they heard a shallow presentation of the Gospel that presents the benefits of salvation but does not share the costs. This person knows nothing about repentance, dying to self, and turning away from the old life. Whatever happened, they made a profession, they are excited, they are active, and they are accepted as the real deal. But because they have no depth to their profession, they fall away when the persecutions and tribulations associated with knowing Jesus arise. They begin to have problems with simple matters like church attendance, prayer and reading the Bible. They have a difficult time making a genuine, lasting break with their sins. They shrink away from the radical claims of Christ and the cross: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Were they really saved? No! How do we know for sure? There is no fruit of salvation in their life! By the way, when a profession of salvation is real, it will last! We often call these types of people “backsliders” or “carnal Christians.” If the Lord saves your soul, He will change your life. When God changes a life, He does it forever. What He does in you will last. You may fall, but you will not stay away from His house, His presence, His throne, His Word, His people and you will not be able to stay out of His will: “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” 1 John 3:9 (NLT)
3. The Crowed Soil: vs. 7, 22
“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
This soil looks like it is ready to be sown also, but underneath the surface are the living roots and seeds of thorns and weeds. When the seed falls here, it also springs to life quickly and gives every indication that a good harvest will follow. However, the same ground begins to produce the thorns and weeds that were already there and they soon choke out the tender plant.
This plant withers and dies without producing any fruit at all. This is a picture of a person who tries to have the benefit of the Gospel while still clinging to the old life of sin. Without a conscious break from the old life of sin this person does not have a chance of being saved. The seed of the Gospel cannot survive to produce fruit in a heart filled with other things. The seed will have the ground or sin will have the ground, but it cannot be shared! Jesus said it was the cares of the world and the quest for earthly riches that spelled disaster for this kind of soil. This kind of person begins well, but soon fades away, having their profession choked out by sin and the world. Were they really saved? No! How do we know for sure? There is no fruit of salvation in their life! When Jesus comes in to a life, He makes a difference in that life: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 Preachers have fed a generation the lie of “easy believism” and have failed to tell lost people that God demands repentance along with faith before salvation can be realized. If you have made a profession and there has been no change in your life, then you need to repent and call on Christ for salvation.
4. The Choice Soil: vs. 8, 23
“But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
Finally, some seed fell onto good ground. This ground had been worked and prepared. It had been plowed and tilled and it was ready to receive the seed when it came. The seed germinated within the heart of the soil and the plant began to grow. When the plant reached maturity, it began to produce fruit that brought honor and gain to the farmer. This is a picture of the heart that has been plowed deeply by the Word of God. It is a picture of a heart that has been tilled and prepared by the grace of God. When the seed of the Gospel hits this kind of heart, it germinates, grows up and bears fruit to the glory of God. This heart alone pictures that kind of life that can truly call itself saved! Why do I say that? This is the only soil that produced fruit! The only difference between these types of soil was fruit. On the hard soil, the seed never penetrated the hard ground and was carried away. On the other three soils, the seed penetrated and disappeared, but only that which fell on the good soil produced fruit! The only obstacle to salvation is unbelief, but anyone who is willing to accept Jesus on His terms is good soil!
This soil represents the only soil among the four that pictures a saved heart. You see, when Jesus enters a life through the Gospel message, He will make His presence known beyond all doubt. He will cause the new believer to begin to bear fruit for the glory of God. In fact, He will lead the believer through a progression of fruit bearing. As the days go by, there will be more and more fruit for the glory of the Heavenly Sower. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:5, 8
Not all believers are equal. Some bear only 30% fruit; some 60% fruit; and shockingly, only a very small number bear 100% fruit. Most are just not willing to give 100% of their energy, effort, strength, time, and possessions. There is not the willingness to pay the price!
Conclusion: While these kinds of soils are used to speak about the matter of salvation, there is another application that we can draw from them as well. If we are not careful, we that are saved can allow ourselves to develop the wrong kind of heart. We can become hard hearted toward the things of God, toward His House and toward His Word. When this happens, we will find ourselves fruitless and defeated as a believer! Or, we can grow shallow in our commitment to the Lord and His work, this too can hinder our fruit production. Or, we might allow our lives to become filled with the wrong kinds of things, thorns of sin and worldliness that will hinder us and keep us from being fruitful for the glory of the Lord. If you are saved, what kind of soil is your heart made of?
It seems too many patients “Do Not Follow Orders” Next to the one who does not pay his bill, the doctor’s most annoying patient is the one who refuses to follow orders. Recently it was estimated that between 16 to 90 percent of all patients leave half-empty pill bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups despite careful prescriptions and cautious advice. Let’s get to the heart of the matter: What kind of soil is your heart? Has it become hardened to the things of God? Is it shallow in commitment to Him and His work? Are you constantly distracted, burdened and defeated by sin and the cares of the world? Or are you bearing the kind of fruit you should be bearing? Everyone here today knows where they stand with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am asking you to be honest with yourself and with Him about what you need to do this morning. If you need Him in salvation, in repentance, in rededication, in anything, this altar is open for you. You come, if He is calling you!
According to Jesus, the seed is the Gospel, and the soil is your heart. If you were to be honest today, which of these four soils is your heart?
Is your heart hard and closed off to God? If it is, then this message has meant little to you. The enemy has already stolen most of it away. If you are the hard soil today, then I am praying that God will sink His plow deep into the soil of your heart, bring you under conviction of your sins and prepare you to hear His word and be saved.
Is your heart stony or thorny and is your commitment to your profession shallow? Do you have problems serving the Lord faithfully and staying away from sin? Do you place your hope of Heaven on some prayer you prayed or upon some religious activity you have been through like baptism or church membership? If so, then I challenge you to examine your heart today and to be sure that you are genuinely saved. I am not trying to make you doubt your salvation; but I want you to know that if a person is genuinely saved, they will be different for the rest of their lives. If you are not, then you need to check up! Maybe you've heard this message and your heart has been stirred. You know you need to come to Jesus; you need to repent of your sins; and you know you need to be saved. If so, then you sound like a good soil heart to me. If the Gospel seed has fallen there today and Jesus is calling you, please come to Him.
In : Sermon
Tags: "are you that witness series" "book of matthew"
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