The Sower - Part 1
And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
"Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. "For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
"Hear then the parable of the sower. "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
The emphasis of the parable of the sower is on the responsibility of the hearer - to actively listen to the message of Jesus. It’s a responsibility to truly seek to know God with sincerity of heart, and make a conscience effort to seriously consider what Jesus has to say.
“...the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit...” (Matthew 13:23).
To believe in Jesus, means to genuinely trust Him and commit to being His disciple. Jesus calls people to follow Him whole-heartedly, and not just pay Him lip service but take personal action and be involved in the kingdom of God. To forsake the way of the world, die to our sinful desires, and live with the aim to sincerely please God and love people.
This is the fruit God desires. The evidence which shows we have real, living faith and not just engaged in religious ritual or shallow spirituality.
The parable of the sower shows how 3 out 4 people reject the message of Jesus:
By the Road
The first group, do not make the effort to pay attention to the message of Jesus. This comes with the consequence of being deceived and enslaved to perform the will of the Devil (2 Timothy 2:25-26, Ephesians 6:10-12).
Like a fish taking the bait, people are hooked by the deceitful promises of Satan and forsake the promises of God. The most dreadful thing is that only God keeps His promises.
The next is a self-centered belief in using God as a dispensing machine for blessings, but not making a genuine commitment to following Jesus. When difficulty arises because of Jesus, their own interests and pleasures take preference, instead of commitment to God.
In the Thorns
The last rejection is a choice between fulfilling personal desires and pleasures, instead of personal commitment to following Jesus. This is a choice we all face in our fight of faith. If we truly commit to following Jesus with all our heart, there will be a personal battle and a personal cost.
If we truly trust the Bible, that it is the one and only authority in all matters of life and faith, there will be conflict without and within. But if we love the world and what it has to offer more than Jesus, it will become evident in our life choices and actions (2 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:15-17).
Finally, the person who genuinely accepts and receives the message of Jesus in their heart, will be granted to know God and enter into a personal relationship with Him (John 1:12).
A relationship initiated by the Holy Spirit and culminating in a true understanding and worship of God (John 4:23-24). As the Holy Spirit leads us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of God, we are transformed into the His image, and this is what causes us to love God and love people with the same love God has loved us in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Peter 3:15-18).
If we are the people who have heard and understood the message of Jesus, then in time and with perseverance we will bear fruit. Some will bear a little and some a lot, but fruit all the same. All who genuinely believe in Jesus have received the Holy Spirit and it is the Spirit of God which works in us to make us more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6, Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Jesus is the only One who can reveal the mysteries of life and grant a true knowledge and understanding of the spiritual realities of God, so it is an absolute obligation to make every effort to listen to Him and do what He says (Philippians 2:12-13).
“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Luke 8:18).
“He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9).
Grace and Judgment
God’s attitude of heart towards people is always one of love and compassion. God firstly exercises mercy and grace, calling people to submit to His instructions for their own good and salvation, and relents to pass judgment (Jeremiah 18:7-8).
This is how God “feels” and “acts” towards people. He loves His creation deeply and has demonstrated His perfect love in Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross (Matthew 5:43-48, 1 John 4:8, John 3:16, Exodus 34:6).
But at the same time, God is holy, just and righteous. His holiness is incorruptible, His justice without bias or partiality, and His righteous judgments are based on His ability to know all truth completely and perfectly (Psalm 147:5, 1 John 3:19-20, Isaiah 40:28). If God fails to act in accordance with His holy, just and righteous nature - He would cease to be holy and unfit to be God
The Problem of Sin
Sin and evil in the heart of man has caused a profound problem for God. On the one hand, God is love and desires to forgive and cover our sin and evil; but, God is also holy, and sin cannot be allowed to go unpunished and justice must be done, otherwise God would be unjust. Although God can choose to do whatever He wants, He chooses to be holy, righteous and just, because He delights in these (Jeremiah 9:24).
Therefore, in God’s perfect wisdom, He has solved the problem of sin and death through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Sin must be punished and justice upheld before sinners can be forgiven, or else God would cease to be holy.
This is the reason why Jesus died on the cross, to take the punishment of sin upon Himself on behalf of sinners. Thus sin’s punishment is paid and justice has been done, God is just and remains holy, and is able to forgive sinners while maintaining His righteousness (Romans 3:23-26).
God in His love and grace goes even further and not only pays for our sin, but also provides our right standing before Him, by giving us the righteousness of Christ. This is the reason why Jesus rose from the dead, because He was perfectly righteous, and His righteousness is credited to all who place their trust in Him (Romans 4:1-6, 18-25).
Within ourselves, we have no ability to stand before God without experiencing His holy wrath and displeasure because of our sinful state. We need to have a perfect legal standing before God, and this righteousness is represented as being clothed with the righteousness of Jesus
Our sinful nature, corrupted by the fall and our own moral failures, is compared to wearing sin stained clothes, and all need to be rightly clothed to appear before God’s holy presence (Isaiah 1:18). So God in His love and grace, provides us with the Royal Robe of Jesus as our covering. All in Christ are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus which He won for us by His atoning death and resurrection (Isaiah 61:10, 64:6, Zechariah 3:4, Revelation 5:9).
Call of Love
In love, God calls people through His word and the Holy Spirit to trust in Jesus with humble submission and willing obedience (1 Peter 1:1-2). He has provided His Word - the Bible - to guide and instruct us, and given us access to Himself through faith in Jesus.
God has provided all we need to live godly and righteous lives, and has promised all who place their trust in Jesus will spend eternity with Him in the glory of heaven.
But! If people reject the message of salvation in Jesus, there is no other way to be saved from God’s judgment and condemnation. God exercises extreme patience and grace in calling people to come to Him for salvation, but at a certain point in time - which is only knowable to God - He will abandon people in their sin, and cease to offer His salvation.
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.” (Romans 1:28).
Those who genuinely seek God and His salvation in Jesus will find they will be supplied with grace and understanding about the things of God, but all who refuse and rebel against God’s gracious offer of salvation in Christ, will find themselves groping in spiritual darkness for a light they will never find.
“For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 13:12).
Therefore, there is nothing more important or of greater value in life, than to listen carefully and pay close attention to the message of God through Jesus in the Bible.
If we do not make the effort to seek and understand God’s salvation in Jesus, the consequences are eternal separation from His glorious presence, with no one to blame but our own choice to ignore and reject God.
“Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'” (Ezekiel 33:11).
“So I will choose their punishments and will bring on them what they dread. Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight” (Isaiah 66:4).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not have it! "Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!' ”