Have you ever found yourself talking to someone only to discover that they really weren’t listening? Ladies, I’m obviously asking you. It can be frustrating in a conversation; it can be devastating spiritually, when God is trying to communicate and people don’t seem to listen.
That is going to be the dominant theme of the text we’ll be examining this Sunday as we continue our way through the Gospel of Matthew, reading chapter 13:1-23.
This is the beginning of a series of teachings Jesus gives, and he gives them all in parables. It is very significant that Jesus taught through the use of stories that represented a larger truth. What do you think is significant about his use of parables.
When his disciples ask him why he’s teaching people through these unexplained riddles, Jesus gives an answer that is as cryptic as the parables themselves, and somewhat disturbing. He indicates that the parables are a means of hiding the arrival of God’s kingdom from certain types of people. Who is it that Jesus seems to have in mind in this warning? Why do you think they are unable to hear what it is Jesus is saying, or see what it is that is happening? What lesson can we take from this as the 21st Century American church?
Jesus only explains two of his parables, this one and the one after this. In his explanation, he tells us plainly that the seeds represent the news of God’s kingdom arriving through Jesus and the soils represent the hearts and lives of people. Some hear and embrace the possibilities of God’s rule over life and it produces varying amounts of fruit. Some hear and are interested, but lose interest as everyday life crowds out the importance of what God is doing in their hearts. Others hear and are stoked, but its shallow emotionalism so that when things get difficult or demanding, they bail out. Worst of all, there are those who are like hard-packed dirt on a well-trodden path – who won’t allow the news of God’s rule get anywhere near their hearts because it doesn’t fit with what they’ve already assumed about life.
Think about this: Jesus was talking about people who were pretty religious already. He’s not necessarily talking about the pagan Romans, but most likely the pious Jews. How do we evaluate what this story means to us in our journey of faith? Do you think its possible to have all of these types of soil represented in one life? Is it possible they are represented in your life? How can we hear with an intent to embrace what God says in his gospel? What can make us more receptive to His word?
This will be a challenging study – hope to see you this Sunday!