Lesson 152-April 15 and April 22, 2018-Two Parts
Lesson: “By Jesus’ Explanation Where Am I?”
Scripture: Matthew 13:18-23
Lesson Goal: To better understand the Parable of the Sower as it applies to my own life.
Introduction: As we look at todays lesson, we will find Jesus explaining the meaning of the Parable of the Sower (Soils). It is important for us to remember that an accurate understanding of Jesus’ parables is critical in our study of Jesus’ Life and Ministry. Insomuch as that, one third of the Lord’s teaching came through teaching in parables.
Having responded to the disciples question of verse 10, Jesus now proceeds to expound and explain the mean- ing of the parable found in verses 3-9. Mark and Luke help us to understand that the disciples themselves sought clarification of the meaning of the parable (Mark 4:13, Luke 8:9). The disciples wanted and needed a clear understanding of this parable.
(v18) “Therefore hear the parable of the sower.” Before Jesus offered the words of the parable, let us remem- ber He had sought the undivided attention of those that gathered around Him (Mark 4:3) “Listen!” Now as Jesus begins explaining the meaning of this parable He begins with “therefore hear.” For the disciples, as well as each of us, (followers of Jesus) we must “listen” and “hear” His words, for in doing this we are brought to an understanding of His words. Hearing and listening is the pathway to understanding for the followers of Je- sus. For the Lord Himself had just told them that their faith in Him allowed their eyes to be open to see and their ears to be open to hear (Matthew 13:11-12,16,17).
Question: If your Life Focus teacher paused and stopped todays lesson, asked you to close your Bible and Life Focus books and then asked you individually to summarize with details what they (the teacher) had just said, would you be able to offer an accurate and correct factual summary covering the main points distinctly of the first few minutes of this lesson? As your teacher was sharing from the lesson, during the first few mo- ments of your class, were you able to hear and listen giving thought to the teachers’ words? Were there other things happening during the same time the teacher was teaching, such as, doors opening and closing, people moving about, others carrying on conversations, noises outside in the hallways and parking lots?
Question: Does it take self-discipline to be a good listener? Please explain your answer.
Question: Is it possible that as a follower of Jesus we struggle in our walk simply because we do not listen to him?
Question: How does a follower of Jesus hear Jesus? Please answer prayerfully and use Scripture to support your answer.
A few weeks past, Vice President Mike Pence found not only his faith challenged but his mental state by a tel- evision personality because he said he talks to Jesus and Jesus talks to him. The television personality stated, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.” This same television personality stated that she herself was a “Christian” and the supporting evidence she gave was that she “paid her church.”
On March 14, 2013, Reverend Billy Graham was asked “if you had it to do over again what would you do dif- ferently? His answer, “I would study more, I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements. I would spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love Him and adore- Him.”
Question: Why do you think that Reverend Graham said he would spend more time in meditation and prayer study?
Often we ask ourselves or wonder what is our part in learning the things of God. What can we as an individual follower of Jesus Christ do to enhance our fellowship with Him? We might be surprised at what a simple an- swer could be given—The answer Listen to Him! But in order to Listen what must we do?
(v19) Please read verse 19 and cross reference 4. We are told in Mark 4:14, “the sower sows the word.” In order to understand this parable we must first correctly identify the sower and what the sower does. In this parable Jesus is the sower but we must also recognize that the sower is “anyone who shares the gospel” Platt. The sower sows the seed and the seed is the Word of God. MacArthur states, “In particular, the sower sows the Word, the good news of entrance into the Kingdom by grace through faith. In a broader sense, of course, any believer who preaches or testifies to the gospel is a sower who sows Christs word in his Lord’s behalf. The parable therefore applies to any true presentation of the gospel. The power of new spiritual life is in the word, just as the power of plant life is in the seed. The seeds in the parable are all the same nature, sown from the same bag by the same sower. The only variables are in what happens to those seeds when they are sown on the different types of soil.”
The soils in the parable represent the human heart and peoples varying responses to the word as it is sown by the sower (messenger). The condition, response, and attitude of the heart would govern their response.
(v19) The seed is sown into the hardened heart just like the seeds that were scattered along the hardened soil of the wayside. The seed does not penetrate the soil but because of the condition of the soil remains on top or outside the soil where it is easily snatched away or removed. The birds that devour the seeds in verse 4 are explained by Jesus as the “wicked ones” of verse 19. The “wicked one” comes and snatches the seed away that “was sown in the heart.” The hardened heart makes it easy for the wicked one to quickly snatch the words away.
Question: What happens according to this parable when the message, word (seed) is sown in the heart (soil) that is hard like the hard packed ground of an often traveled footpath?
(v20) Please cross reference verse 5. The seed sown on rocky stony ground, unlike the wayside, had a small amount of soil. On top of the rocks were a thin bit of soil. The thin layer of soil receives the seed but because there is no depth of the roots the young plants quickly withered away. Unlike the person with the hardened heart of verse 19 the person of verses 20 and 21 received the word with great emotion (joy) initially only to stumble or fall away. The emotional high is experienced but only on the surface of the heart. Just below the surface of the soil is the rocks and stones. In actuality this soil is harder to penetrate than the soil of the way- side (the hardened footpath). The emotional high experienced in the shallow soil quickly vanishes when the afflictions or persecutions of life come. This person has built their life (house) on the dangerous sands of emo- tionalism and emotional experience. When the afflictions and persecutions of this life come they have no roots to sustain them. This is the person that makes the decision to follow Christ by mere emotion without any though of genuine repentance or life surrender. This person experiences the high of emotional religious expe- rience but not the earnestness of relationship with Jesus Christ.
(v22) Please cross reference verse 7. This soil receives the seed and the seed begins to grow showing signs of maturity and productivity but just as soon as this happens the once unnoticed thorns begin to grow ultimately choking out the plants, destroying them. The plants do not reach maturity or produce. These are the people that start well, showing evidences of production and maturity but they allow the things of this world to sprout up and distract them, choking out the word.
Question: What are some of the distractions of this world that chokes many of us today? Please answer hon- estly and prayerfully.
As Pastor of Mars Hill Baptist Church and as the writer of Life Focus lessons, I believe this is one of the great- est challenges of 2018. I personally see more and more young families being choked by the distractions of this world. This world has more to offer this generation then any other generation. What goes unnoticed or may appear harmless initially becomes the choking force in our lives.
I am watching and witnessing more good people, more good families that I love and care for become victims of this world’s choking distractions. As the true seed begins to grow and the young plant begins to show such promise and potential the green of the thorn begins to appear and it seems harmless, even pleasant in its early stages but what goes almost unseen is the thorns quick growth and the thorn that gave an appearance of harm- lessness begins to take over the young maturing plant. The thorn begins to dominate the young plants, wrap- ping itself around the young, not fully developed, nor fully mature plant and chokes the life out of it.
Question: Are we allowing the thorns to grow among the young plants?
Question: Are there times when we not only allow the thorns to grow but we promote the growth of the thorns?
What seems innocent and harmless for a season can in time be dangerous and it can even destroy what is most valued in our fields.
The effects of the thorns that are growing with our tender, young, developing plants may not be seen for a sea- son or two to come but one day they will be realized and acknowledged. What concerns me is the fact that when we realize what we have allowed to happen to our tender young plants it will be too late! The choking thorns of this world’s distractions have never been so dominant as they are today!
(v23) Please cross reference verse 8. Some seed fell on good ground and grew and developed into maturity, producing many fold. Each of these producing in accordance with their fruitfulness. It is in this soil that the produce of the plants are realized.
The question we must answer: What kind of soil is my heart?
- Hard packed, no opportunity to germinate.
- Rocky soil, high on emotionalism but no depth.
- Appears good, quickly choked by this world’s distractions.
- Good soil, maturing and producing.