While parables were often told to make truth tangible, in Matthew 13, we find that this wasn’t always the case. When His disciples question why He speaks in parables, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah: “For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they hear with difficulty, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15).
This is the case in the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The seed hits the open path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil, and Jesus describes four hearers who receive the good news in different ways. We should examine this parable and ask ourselves, “What kind of hearer am I?”
Do we seek to really understand the gospel? When we hear it told again and again, does it merely lie on the surface as commonplace? When our faith is put to the test, do we find ourselves putting hope in everything else but the good news? Or, when we become anxious about the cares of this world, do we find ourselves grasping for a firm foundation that isn’t there?
The seed that falls on the good soil describes a completely different reception. This hearer receives the word and “hears it and understands it.” It doesn’t stop there, however. The hearer is also known for his good works, which display a heart that has been changed. These hearers bear fruit according to what they have been given: “But what was sown on the good soil—this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, this one a hundred times as much, and this one sixty, and this one thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
Jesus emphasizes that the pursuit of Him isn’t lethargic, or merely emotional, and it isn’t cerebral. It involves pursuing Him with all of our being—in a posture of humility, with an ear that hears and a life that is changed. It involves complete surrender to His will.
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