It’s easy for us to see Jesus as Messiah, but it must have been very difficult for His contemporaries. After all, who was this Jesus? The son of a lowly carpenter, not a member of the upper classes. But still people came, hoping against hope that He was the One promised. To those who were honestly seeking, He gave understanding, but to those who opposed or ridiculed Him, the words of the parables might have been in a foreign language. He even told them that their reactions had been predicted.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matt 13:13-17 (ESV)
We are blessed as our eyes are opened to the meanings of these parables, as well. Every time I read them, I gain more insight, and I pray that this is happening to you as well.
Parable of the Sower – The rocky soil represents those who have no root. They might make an emotional and superficial “commitment”, possibly to a preacher who speaks a different gospel than Jesus, but because there is no root, they quickly fall away.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19 (ESV)
The thorny soil represents those who hear and have a superficial type of commitment (unrepentant). The things of the world and possessions are more important than the things of God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
The good soil represents those who hear and understand. They are willing to live Christ’s life, and their lives bear fruit. Not everyone bears the same type or quantity of fruit, but those who are committed to the Christian walk all bear some fruit.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:8 (ESV)
The tares represent false Christians. Since Satan can’t get to those who have been planted in the good soil, he plants counterfeits in their midst. “We must beware of Satan’s counterfeits. He has counterfeit Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26) who believe a counterfeit gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). He encourages a counterfeit righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), and even has a counterfeit church (Revelation 2:9). At the end of the age, he will produce a counterfeit Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). It is when God’s people go to sleep that Satan works. Our task is not to pull up the false, but to plant the true. We must oppose Satan and expose his lies, but we must also sow the Word of God and bear fruit in the place where He has planted us”. - Warren Wiersbe
The mustard seed. We have heard the story of having faith like a mustard seed, but this parable is different. It refers to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is the small, seemingly insignificant seed that grew to shelter all of us in His arms. The leaven, which to Israel refers to sin (they have to remove all leaven from their homes for Passover Exodus 12:15), but here it seems that Jesus is telling us that like leaven, God’s kingdom and word is active and not visible to us, but it gives an inner transformation of the heart. Both the parable of treasure and of the pearl of great price remind us that we need to give up all to follow Jesus.
Lamp under a basket reminds us that we need to work to understand God’s kingdom. The more we listen and understand, the more we will be given to do. Do you wish that God would give you more? Think about what you already have – what are you doing with it? Are you a trustworthy steward?
“Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:24-25 (ESV)
Because we are going through much detail, I will post every day or two to keep these posts from becoming incredibly long. As always, I would love to hear what you’ve discovered as we go through the Bible together. Send me an email or write a comment! See you soon.