Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
January 18, 2009
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 And when a great multitude came together, and they of every city resorted unto him, he spake by a parable:
5 The sower went forth to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it.
6 And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
7 And other fell amidst the thorns; and the thorns grew with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold. As he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him what this parable might be.
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.
13 And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience.
- I. The Parable.
- A. Of interesting significance is this fact: Jesus used a very ordinary, everyday reality to present a "mystery" of the Kingdom of God that is found in Matthew and Mark as well as here. This means that the Kingdom of God exists in a shadow form in this present creation and the ordinary particulars of life in this world are illustrations of the particulars of that Kingdom. This means that we swim in the Truth all of the time as we live and, thus, are immersed in, and surrounded by, the Truth. That we can be led into deception as easily as we are is indicative of our "condition" as ignorant creatures, not to mention our worse "condition" as sinners. One would think that if we are so totally surrounded by Truth, we could see it more readily, but without a previously developed backdrop in Truth we cannot.
- 1. The "problem" with parables is that no one can understand them unless they already have a grasp of the Truth that they represent. It makes an enormous amount of difference, for instance, whether the "seed" is the "Word of God", or "the people of God", or "the works of God", or "the works of the people of God", or any number of other specific things as to how the particulars of the parable are going to "reveal" any truth. Attaching legitimate significance to the shadows requires a prior grasp of the truths that they represent. Note Matthew 13:38 as an example.
- 2. And, as can be easily seen in non-parable revelation, the presence of sin among the shadows creates even more problems. Let's face it: even "plain" speech is not always that "easy" to understand.
- B. The parable presents the very ordinary process of farming.
- 1. There is a farmer whose primary characteristic in the parable is that he "sows" his seed.
- 2. As he sows, some of the seed falls along the road and is trampled and the birds of heaven eat it.
- 3. And other falls down upon the rock and withers because, when it had sprouted up, it had no moisture.
- 4. And other fell into the midst of thorns and having grown together with the thorns, the thorns choked it.
- 5. And other fell upon the good earth and, having sprouted, it produced fruit a hundred fold.
- C. Jesus was crying out as He said these things: The one having an ear to hear, let him hear.
- II. The "Issues".
- A. At the root is the question of why Jesus decided to present Kingdom Truth in its "every day form".
- 1. This is addressed by His use of the principle found in Isaiah 6:9; 44:18; Jeremiah 5:21; Deuteronomy 29:4 and Romans 11:8-11: God responds to men as they respond to Him ... kinda. The reason for the "kinda" is this: God saved Saul of Tarsus who was the chief of sinners. This is not a "response in kind" from God to men. The vast majority of those of Saul's ilk were rejected as rejectors. He, himself, gives more than one answer to the question of "why him?". In 1 Timothy 1:12-14 he argues that he was shown mercy because he was "ignorant". Then, in the next verses (1 Timothy 1:15-16)he argues that he was shown mercy as a display of Jesus Christ's longsuffering for those who would come after. On the face of it, neither of these "reasons" are very satisfying because who is not "ignorant" and what is the point of seeing the "longsuffering" of Jesus in light of the fact that it is not a terribly "convincing" truth to the "ignorant"? But, beneath the "face of it", both of these reasons enable those who "have an ear to hear" to take heart when their own failures come clearly to light. Then there is the fact that Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that he was an ordained instrument of His to fulfill His plans for the nations (Acts 9:15). Herein is the more fundamental reason for mercy being extended to Saul: he was the chosen vessel of Jesus Christ to extend His mercy to multitudes of others.
- 2. This is also addressed by His setting in Israel's historical development. At the time of Jesus' proclamation of Kingdom Truth, He was in the midst of the 69th Week of Daniel. This is significant because that "week" was a period of final apostasy in the nation that was to bring about the horror of the 70th Week in which God is to pour out His wrath upon the world (both Israel and the nations) because the mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7) has reached its apex much like the destruction of the Canaanites in the days of Joshua because "the iniquity of the Amorite" had reached its zenith (Genesis 15:16).
- a. This notion of an apex of sin's development involves certain facts. First, it seems apparent from Paul's own teaching in Galatians 1:15 that God's selected "vessels of mercy" have some form of special divine activity on their behalf not only from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8), but also from conception. This special divine activity has something to do both with keeping the ravages of Sin from its total impact and with certain preparatory actions that move a person to a receptivity of grace "when it pleases God" (Galatians 1:15 -- read it again).
- b. It is inescapably the implication of a "growth of iniquity" that such "iniquity", though present from conception by Adamic heritage, has not reached its greatest development until what is often referred to as "the point of no return". Paul's doctrine in 1 Corinthians 11 about how God kills those of His own to keep them from going beyond that point so that they have to be "condemned with the world" is at least an element of this implication. That Jesus came at the time of Israel's greatest apostasy also implies the same "development" concept. This may well be the reason that Jesus said the Kingdom was "of little children"...those in whom the mystery of iniquity has not yet reached its goal to put them beyond the reach of grace. This may well also be the root of the multiplied use of the exhortation in Hebrews, "Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart." And, finally, this may also answer the question as to the lack of a Savior among the angelic hosts. Lucifer's rebellion may have actually been an "over the line" act that precluded the possibility of redemption.
- B. Then there is the question of whether one "has an ear to hear". Not even the disciples "heard" with understanding. The implication is that no one understood. The logical conclusion to this implication is that no one "has an ear to hear" unless the issue of "having an ear to hear" is more about "having a desire to know" than it is about actually "knowing".
- C. Then there is the question of the "meaning": what was Jesus declaring?