Matthew, Chapter 13
Matt. 13:1 "The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea
side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he
went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower
went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side,
and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places,
where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because
they had no deepness of earth: 6 And 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 sprung up, and choked them: 8 But
other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an
hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear,
let him hear. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest
thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because
it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but
to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given,
and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall
be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in
parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not,
neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of
Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;
and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's
heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes
they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and
hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should
be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they
hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them;
and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth
the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the
wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is
he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed
into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with
joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a
while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word,
by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns
is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the
deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the
word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth
forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Beginning with this parable the Lord spoke several parables to the
people. First, we may ask ourselves, "What is a parable?" A parable is
spiritual truth illustrated by natural truth. For instance, in the
above, farmers do plant seed into the ground by broadcasting it over the
ground. When this is done, some seed do literally fall by the wayside.
Some seed fall on stony ground. Some seed fall among thorns. Some seed
fall on good ground. All of this is true in nature. This, however,
becomes a parable when these natural truths are used to parallel and
teach spiritual lessons.
Next, we may ask ourselves, "Why did the Lord speak to the people in
parables?" Since the parable is about the response that people have to
the gospel, and if the gospel was a tool to save people from their sins,
then why would not the Lord speak plainly and not in parables. The fact
is that the gospel is not for the purpose of saving people from their
sins. The Lord answered the question when he said, "Because it is given
unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it
is not given." The Lord spoke in parables in order to hide the mysteries
of the kingdom of heaven from some and to reveal the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven unto others. Please also notice that it was from the
multitude that the Lord was hiding the mysteries of the kingdom of
heaven! He did not want the multitude to know the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven so he spoke to them in parables.
The Lord spoke concerning the multitude, "And in them is fulfilled the
prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not
understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this
people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and
their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their
eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart,
and should be converted, and I should heal them." This people had done
three things that rendered them unworthy to understand the mysteries of
the kingdom of heaven:
1. They had hardened their hearts. People who resists the word and
resist obeying the word will over time see their hearts become hardened
to the word. These people had become hardened against the word.
2. They had become dull of hearing. When people hear the truth and yet
ignore it, over time they will become dull of hearing the word. When the
word is spoken, they will pay no attention to it.
3. They had closed their eyes. This is a willful act of knowing the
truth and seeing error, yet closing their eyes to the sins and errors
that they and others were committing.
It is through the spiritual eyes and spiritual ears and spiritual heart
that we receive knowledge of the kingdom of heaven. The multitude of the
Jews in that day had shut off these three venues to understanding and
receiving the truth. Therefore, the Lord was making it impossible for
them to understand the things concerning the kingdom of heaven.
In contrast to the multitudes, the disciples were seeking, asking, and
knocking for the things of the kingdom of heaven. They had already been
greatly blessed to see the kingdom and to enter therein. To these who
had been so blessed, the Lord said, "But blessed are your eyes, for they
see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many
prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye
see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and
have not heard them." The Lord was now revealing to the disciples,
things that even the Old Testament prophets and righteous men had not
seen nor heard even thou they desired to see them and hear them. The
Lord is sovereign and he works his sovereign will. He withholds some
things from some and reveals some things to others.
In addition, the Lord said unto the disciples, "For whosoever hath, to
him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath
not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." To those who are
seeking, asking, and knocking for the truth the Lord adds to what they
already have. To those who have hardened their hearts, dulled their
hearing, and closed their eyes, the Lord takes away what they had
In the above parable, the Lord tells us that the sower is the preacher
of the gospel. The preacher cannot possibly know what every person's
heart condition is to whom he preaches. The preacher just broadcasts the
word to those who are present to hear it. He does not know on what
ground condition it will fall.
The ground represents the heart of the hearer. Luke 8:15 "But that on
the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having
heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." Here we
are told that the good ground is equal to the "honest and good heart."
Thus, there are four heart conditions in which a child of God may
receive the word.
We know that the people in all four grounds are children of God, because
they all heard the word. No one can truly hear the word, but those who
have been given "ears to hear" and these are the ones who are born of
the Spirit of God.
Thus, the Lord is telling us there will be four different responses to
the hearing of the gospel by the children of God depending on the
current condition of their heart. The first condition is the way side
condition. The people in this condition hear the word, but understand it
not. A person who has not been born of the Spirit cannot understand the
things of the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:14). However, just because someone
has been born of the Spirit does not guarantee that he will understand
what is preached. They have the spiritual tools to understand it, but
they must apply themselves to understand it. They must seek, ask, and
knock for understanding. Furthermore, we must understand the process of
acquiring knowledge and understanding. Isaiah 28:9 "Whom shall he teach
knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are
weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be
upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here
a little, and there a little." The understanding of the first precept is
the foundation for understanding the second precept. We gain spiritual
knowledge and understanding precept upon precept, line upon line, and
here a little and there a little.
Sometimes when the word is preached we do not have enough foundation
built up in our current knowledge of God's word, that we can understand
what the preacher is preaching. When we are in the condition of a
wayside heart, then the devil comes immediately and takes away that
which is sown in our heart. The remedy for us is to build a foundation
on which we can understand not only the milk of the word, but also can
receive strong meat from the word.
The second condition of the heart on which the word fell was on stony
ground. In this condition, the people receive the word with joy. They
rejoice with what they hear, having understood the word. In nature,
ground with many stones will impede the growth of the plant. The plant
has no depth of earth in which to grow, therefore it soon withers away.
According to Eph. 2:10, we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk therein. God's design
for us is to bear fruit to his name's honor and glory. In order to bring
forth fruit in our lives we must be willing to rid ourselves of the
stones that impede growth. It is not enough to be just a hearer of the
word, but we are to be doers also. Sometimes we need to make changes in
the way that we live. Sometimes we need to put away evil from our lives.
Other times we need to conform our lives to the teaching of the word of
God. If we do not make the necessary changes, then we have stones in our
lives which will impede the fruitfulness of the word in our lives. While
those who had the stony hearts heard the word with joy, yet because they
had the stones, when persecution or tribulation arose, then he became
offended at the word. The word shines a light upon our actions and
deeds. How easy it is for one to become offended when his deeds are
contrary to the word.
The third condition of the heart on which the word of God is sown is
said to be a thorny heart. In this condition, the person hears the word,
understand and believes the word and even goes forth in the word. The
problem this person encounters is that his priorities are not right. The
Lord tells us that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness. We are to love the Lord above all else, even our own
close kin folks. He deserves the priority of our love, action, and time.
These on the thorny ground get their priorities out of kilter and
consequently, the "care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,
choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." How easy it is to put the
job, or politics, or position, or even family ahead of serving the Lord.
When we put other things ahead of serving the Lord, then the word will
become unfruitful in our lives. We will not bring fruit to perfection.
The fourth condition of the heart is the good condition. Here the person
hears, understand, believes, bears and brings forth fruit to perfection.
It is in this heart that has been prepared, had the stones removed, and
has his priorities right, that the individual brings forth much fruit,
some thirty fold, some sixty fold, and some hundred fold. We should be
ever desiring to have our heart in such a condition.
Matt. 13:31 "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom
of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and
sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when
it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so
that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
The kingdom of heaven certainly had a very humble beginning. Who would
have thought, other than God, that the kingdom of heaven would become a
great kingdom when John the Baptist went forth preaching, "Repent for
the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The Lord said, "The law and the
prophets were until John, since that time the kingdom of heaven is
preached and every man presseth into it." One man under the direction of
God went forth preaching the kingdom of heaven in the wilderness and
people went out to hear him. Now the kingdom of heaven is the greatest
of all kingdoms. A grain of mustard seed is the least of all seeds, but
like the mustard seed takes root and the mustard plant grows up and
becomes more like a tree than a herb, so the kingdom of heaven started
out extremely small in the eyes of man. Yet under the direction of the
Spirit of God, the Lord called his twelve apostles and sent them forth.
On the day of Pentecost there were about 120 disciples, but under the
power and direction of the Holy Spirit there were added to the church
that day about 3,000 disciples. The Lord then added to the church daily
such as should be saved (from their ignorance and false worship).
While many nations have prospered and then declined and many ceased to
exist, the Kingdom of heaven has continued to grow and prosper in the
world and had a far greater influence upon the world than any other
kingdom. This is all true even though the vast majority of the world do
not even know that the kingdom of heaven exists!
What is true of the kingdom of heaven as a whole is also true of each
local congregation. They begin usually with a single man being called to
preach the gospel and to labor in a certain locality. He begins to
baptize people into a local church. Usually this church is one of the
smaller congregations of people in that area. Yet the influence of the
Lord's church if far greater than the influences of the other
congregations in the area.
Further the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard plant, a lodging place
for God's born again people. And, as the fowls of the air find lodging
in the branches of the mustard plant, the sin sick children of God come
to find rest and lodging in the local church of the Kingdom of heaven.
The local church is a safe haven for the Lord's weary pilgrims as they
make their journey through life.
Matt. 13:24 "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom
of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and
went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth
fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the
householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in
thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An
enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we
go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the
tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together
until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers,
Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn
them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
Matt. 13:36 "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the
house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the
parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He
that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world;
the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the
children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil;
the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it
be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his
angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend,
and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of
fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the
righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who
hath ears to hear, let him hear."
This parable along with all parables in the scripture are designed to
hide knowledge from the multitudes, but to reveal knowledge to the
disciples. As with the parable of the sower, this parable also is
explained to us of the Lord. The Lord through his word reveals to us
knowledge and understanding and wisdom. We are to look to him for
guidance and understanding.
In this parable, there are two sowers, and two groups of people, and two
outcomes. The Lord told us that the field in which the seed are sown is
the world. The Son of man sowed the good seed. The preacher does not sow
this seed. This is the Lord's sowing. Only the Lord can sow the good
seed. Out of all the offspring of Adam, God chose a people to be his
before the foundation of the world (Rom. 8:29, 30). As with all men, the
elect come into this world with a totally depraved wicked nature and
begin to manifest that wicked nature in their actions. When it pleases
the sower, the Lord sows a new nature into the inward parts of the
elect. This sowing brings about the new or spiritual birth. Unlike the
outward flesh, which is altogether wicked, the new man is altogether
good. As we read in 1 John 3:9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not
commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he
is born of God," this new nature cannot sin. Likewise, we read in 1 Pet.
1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,
by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." The elect are
born of an incorruptible seed, which is Jesus Christ. Since the seed is
incorruptible, the nature that comes from it is incorruptible. Thus,
spiritually, the inward man of the elect is incorruptible and altogether
The non-elect also have a spirit working in them. We read about this in
Eph. 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and
sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this
world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that
now worketh in the children of disobedience." The prince of the power of
the air or Satan is the spirit working in the children of disobedience.
The Lord told some unbelieving Jews in John 8:42 "Jesus said unto them,
If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and
came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye
not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are
of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He
was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because
there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his
own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you
the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And
if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God
heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of
God." The inward nature of the non-elect is altogether wicked and has
the spirit of Satan working in it. Since Satan was a murderer from the
beginning and is a liar and the father of it, those who have the spirit
of Satan working in them are therefore the children of that wicked one.
In nature, you cannot tell the difference from an elect or non-elect in
their physical make up. They look the same. I have read that wheat and
tares are indistinguishable before they bear fruit. The fruit
distinguishes between the wheat and the tares. The fruit of wheat is
good, wholesome, and nourishing. The fruit of tares is poisonous.
The elect in time have a two-fold nature. They have the nature of the
flesh and they have the nature of the spiritual inner man. The non-elect
have only one nature and that is the nature of the flesh. In Galatians,
we read of the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the spirit: Gal.
5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:
of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there
is no law."
The fruits of the flesh and thus of the non-elect are all together
wicked and sinful. The fruits of the spirit are altogether good. Only
the elect can bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. The Lord said, "by
their fruits ye shall know them." When we see the fruit of the Spirit,
then we know the person is a planting of the Lord.
The elect are called good. But they have the sinful flesh nature. How
can they be called good? The answer is found in 2 Cor. 5:21: "For he
hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made
the righteousness of God in him." Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus
Christ the elect have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto them. In
the eyes of a just and holy God, they are altogether good and righteous.
In Matthew chapter 25 we read of the final outcome of these two groups
of people that the Lord refers to as wheat and tares: Matt. 25:31 "When
the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with
him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him
shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from
another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he
shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was
thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in
prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him,
saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty,
and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in?
or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison,
and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye
gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and
ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then
shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered,
or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not
minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say
unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did
it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:
but the righteous into life eternal."
The Lord did not tell the righteous that they had eternal life because
of their good deeds, but they had eternal life by inheritance. Their
good deeds was evidence of their good and righteous nature that God had
given them. These went away into life eternal.
The wicked, however, bore no good fruit, but only evil fruit. These
cursed went away into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his
angels. This is the same as the lake of fire spoken of in Revelations