The Seeds and The Soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) by Bro. John Lao

Matthew Chapter 13. So for this morning, we’ll be reading verses 1 to9 and then we will be skipping yung verses 10 to 17 and we will be saving that up for another sermon and go all the way to verses 18- 23 kung saan ipapaliwanag ni Christ yung meaning ng parable. So let us read Matthew Chapter 13. I’ll be reading from English Standard Version. So hear now the words and the parable of our Lord Jesus Christ. That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Verse 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

This is the word of God. Let’s come before Him in prayer. Oh great Sower of the word, whose gracious love has been unveiled through the fine seeds that are found in Your words. The very gospel that has been given to us, that announces that You oh Lord save sinners. We pray oh God that you would just enlighten our minds in the parable. And the amazing thing oh Lord that as we look at this parable, it is your very words that are searching our hearts this morning. And so we pray Lord that we would not end up as unfruitful soils who do not bear fruit for your word; but rather we pray that we would be a fruitful believers whose heart is ready to receive Your words this morning. It is because of that oh Lord that we ask for Your strength. We pray that Your Spirit would enable us to illumine our minds and our hearts to see the wonderful things of Your words. May you teach us now in Jesus’ Name, amen.

We are told that this is still on the same day the Sabbath, the same day when Jesus had a clash with the religious leaders because His disciples were simply doing what is necessary. And for showing mercy to a man with a withered hand by healing him miraculously. Through the past weeks, we’ve been seeing the Apostle Matthew showing his readers how people have responded to Christ and His ministry. At this point, it has been made clear who are those that are with Him and who are those that are against Him. In spite of giving solid proof of His identity, some doubted Him, others were indifferent. There were those who opposed Him openly even wanted to kill Him. But there were those who believed in Him, whom He graciously receives as His very own family members as we have learned last week. Because of what He said and did, His popularity also grew increasingly. The crowds continued to grow and followed him, curious as usual as to what He would say or do the next time and still probably still having that expectation of a militant Messiah who would conquer the enemies, the surrounding nations and would fulfill their earthly desires. He’s been interacting with His opponents, His disciples, but now it is to these crowds that are gathered about Him that He turns His attention to and began teaching many things in parables.

And so beginning today, we’ll be looking at another major section of the Lord’s teaching and that is The Parables of the Kingdom. But before we head on any further, we must be able to define and go into the same page. What is exactly a parable? Ano ba ang parables? These are stories taken from real life in order to illustrate truths about the kingdom of God. Literally, the word means we thrown or cast alongside. It is a teaching device that is thrown alongside in order to instruct and here’s what’s interesting about a parable— it is also meant to conceal. So unlike illustrations, you’ve heard preachers making illustrations from daily life in order to give clarity to the teaching, parables are much broader.

Pwede siyang magbigay ng clarity, but it can also be a means by which truths are being concealed. Here’s may be drawn to a further inquiry and thereby seeking more earnestly about the truth that is communicated. This was not the first time that Jesus used the parables. In fact, in chapter 7, when He said ‘taking out the speck from your brother’s eye when you have the log that is in your eye’, it’s actually a parable. Building the house upon a rock. These are some of the examples. But right at this time, the use of it was more intentional. Deliberately, ginagamit ito ng Panginoon. And the reason why He does it and what’s the meaning of it, we’ll talk about that in another sermon but suffice to say for now that He is challenging the crowds from just following Him out of mere curiosity, to really thinking through the implications of the message that He is communicating. And to instruct His disciples who are willing, who are receptive to the words that He is communicating to them. The parable of the Kingdom illustrates the commencement, the conflict and as well as the consummation of God’s kingdom. How it starts, how it spreads, and how there’s going to be a mixture of both weeds and tares or the true believers or the unbelievers and how it would lead into the ultimate victory and consummation of God’s kingdom in the end of the age. In this section, aside from addressing both the crowds and His disciples, He also answers the question why do others believe the message, believe the Messiah and others do not. The disciples have been given the charge to proclaim the message of the Kingdom in chapter 10 and the Lord Himself told them beforehand that they would experience opposition. We’ve seen it already in the case of our Lord and surely they might have this question in their mind na bakit ganun? The Lord has been giving much proof already not only with the message but as well as by showing miracles which authenticates His ministry.

And this is probably the question as well that are going through your mind. You might be thinking if Christ has remarkably shown the proofs of His identity, the power of His word, but how come even if kahit ako personally, even if I share the gospel, even if I remain faithful in the proclamation of the word, consistent in the word of God, some people do not believe, but there are some those who somehow find joy kapag narinig yung mensahe sa inyo. And there are those who would truly follow through and become true believers. Why is it like that? That is my message this morning. Response To The Gospel Differs Because The State Of People’s Heart Varies. Response to the gospel differs because the state of people’s heart varies. Now, on the first point what I want us to look at is what did the sower came to sow. That’s going to be our first point Find Seeds. And the way different people would respond to the gospel as described in the parable of Jesus, that’s going to be our second point. Four Soils.

And so now, let’s look at the first point. We’ll be seeing how great the message is on this first point. Find Seeds. Amazed with what Christ has been doing the crowds have gathered to Jesus by the beach. And they heard Him teach beginning with the parable of the sower and so far it is pretty straightforward. If you are living at that time that is very familiar with an agricultural city, you would have captured the imagery immediately. There was a sower who sowed seeds in different grounds which yielded different results. It is something that you would immediately understand. But Christ wasn’t just talking about farming. He would later explained the meaning to His disciples in verse 18. The seeds that the sower sowed was in verse 19, the word of the Kingdom… sorry Verse 18. That is the word of the kingdom. It is the word that tells them the good news that the king’s invitation has been given and He invites us to come to Him so that we may be granted entrance to the kingdom. This is in other words, church, the gospel. Our Lord Jesus the Sower, has sowed the seeds of the Gospel proving that He is the very Author and Fulfillment of it. Giving us the message of repentance that offers salvation to those who would come and place their faith in Him. All throughout the events that are leading up to this part, He has both proclaimed the message and He has proven with miracles that He is the Giver of hope. The author of Hebrews even said in chapter 1 that in these last days, kung dati, God has spoken through the prophets, but in these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son. That if a person would not receive His message, His gospel, no other seeds nor other words of hope can give and save sinners. The good news of Christ, only the good news of Christ can give hope to sinful man. No other message could save us from the misery that was brought to us by sin. Curious followers are forced now to carefully consider to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or just like the religious leaders, they’d be indifferent to the message, reject Christ Himself, or even come to a point of actively opposing Him. Since the human races fall to sin because of Adam, God has sowed the seeds of hope through the seed of the woman who would save His people from their sins, striking a death blow upon the head of the serpent by having his heel bruised. And this was accomplished through His substitutionary work on the cross on behalf of sinners, suffering under God’s wrath for He bore the penalty that was due us because of our sins. But because of His sacrificial death, brothers and sisters, He took away God’s wrath. And therefore those that would place their faith in Him are assured of the peace of God. We could know this for sure because God raised Him from the dead. He did not remained dead after dying on the cross. He was raised by the power of God and the word of the kingdom is this— God saves sinners through His Son Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t given your life to Christ, you’ve been hearing the preached word, the Holiness of the law of God, its perfection. As you have read it this morning during our liturgy, and recognise the fact that you have sinned against a holy God, here is your hope— Christ Himself. Here’s the the fine seed that can save you and cleanse you and grant you peace with God. If you haven’t given your life to Christ, repent and believe in Him as the Saviour of your souls. We could absolutely say that the seed that Jesus Christ the Sower is indeed a fine seed. These are good seeds because it guarantees the hope of deliverance from the greatest enemies of our soul, sin, Satan and death. These are powerful seeds for it holds the power of of God unto salvation. Romans 1:16. Seeds may be small, maliit lang ang mga seeds no. But being the word of God this seed is sharper than any two edged sword. And this is a seed that is superior like no other. Its origin is not from men nor it was devised by man, but its origin is from God because the message is not man’s gospel, but it is a gospel from the Thrice holy Go Himself. If God would have been to render His justice, His perfect justice upon us, that will be absolutely fair. But because of His rich mercies and the great love which He has given us, he offered grace to sinners like you and I.

Would you receive this good news dear friend? Would you accept this as a good news from God? How grateful are we to God for giving us a message of solid and sure hope? And if you oh brother or sister, being made recipients of the gospel, God is using you and I as well to sow the fine seeds of the Gospel recognising, that it brings the hope of eternal life to those who would repent and believe in the gospel. And to those who would not only hear that, but as well as understand, may you freely allow it to be sown in the hearts in order that sinners may be reconciled to God. And those who are in Christ, as we engage in fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters, may continually be edified, strengthened and as well as sanctified. And so price highly the gospel. Price highly the gospel that we have received from no other than God Himself.

Consider the love of the Father, that He has given you, for choosing you even before time. That in the miserable state that we are in, He sent His Son in order to save us from it and we are indeed saved by the by the work of Christ, by the person and work of Christ and we are continually being saved from all of our sins. May you ponder upon the grace that Christ has given you as well who loved us and gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the evil one, giving us sufficiently in our weakness that we can find our strength in Him. And as our Mediator, have we even thought about how He is interceding for us at this very moment? That even as Satan would come and hurl all of his accusations before upon us, He would intercede for us before the Father, much like a defense attorney for His client. And this is not just any kind of defense attorney that there are possibilities of being defeated on the case. The account of Christ, the defense of Christ guarantees the salvation, the justification, and as well as the reconciliation that we enjoy before God. Rejoice upon the Holy Spirit as well whom God has given us, who appropriates in us the love of God by making us alive, things concerning His will. And what He does is that as we read the word, He makes us understand the very things that He has given us that we as we look upon the scripture, as we prayerfully and dependently asking Him to reveal the wonderful things of His word gives clarity to it. And He causes as well to bear fruit for every good work. But of course too often, we let our hearts be charmed by the things of this world. We give much thought about our earthly aspirations that it influences our present action. It also influences our desires to listen even to the things that may tickle our ears but not necessarily edify our lives as believers. We spend most of our times looking, musing and entertaining ourselves with world. And so my question to you is brother or sister and dear friend, what captivates your mind? What fills the desires of your heart? What occupies most of your time? And how is it influencing your actions, your decisions, the ones you make day in, day out. Does it show that we are pricing the gospel highly in our lives? Are we allowing the gospel to set our minds on the things that are above, the things that are heavenly? If we are preachers of the word, do we painstakingly prepare in ensuring that as we come into the pulpit, we are sowing the very words of God and not simply our own thoughts, our opinions. For parents, do we allow our homes to be a place where God rules in His word? Where His word is talked about, read, followed, and ultimately obeyed? As for the kids, when your mommy and daddy talks to you do you find it a great joy hearing them about what Christ has done for sinners like you and I?

And during fellowships, we enjoy it very much. What kind of discussions are we having? Are we fostering conversations that would edify, point each other to the word of God and to His gospel? Or is it a breeding ground for gossip, for things that are are unfruitful, divisive, that are sowing unhealthy seeds rather than fine seeds within the body of Christ?

In Ephesians chapter 4 verse 3, there are.. there is a call that was given by the Apostle Paul in light of the Gospel. He charges them as the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ to walk in the manner that is worthy of the Gospel, upholding characters such as virtues rather such as humility, gentleness, kindness, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain unity in the spirit, in the bond of peace. We don’t wait for the church collectively to become united. In fact, it is a daily, I would say, a daily thing and a personal responsibility for every member of the local church to be earnest, to be eager, to be urgent in maintaining unity within the body of Christ. When God captivates our thinking, our desires, it increases the value that we place upon the gospel which in the first place has brought us into fellowship with God Himself. Now, that’s the good news of the Gospel.

Let us now look at four different ways. These are some of the ways that people would respond to the gospel, but these are the leading categories so far. We will be looking at those at the second point Four Soils. Thankfully, the Lord Himself explained the meaning of the parable. This will now answer the question why do people respond differently to the gospel? And here, Jesus tells His disciples that the four soils in the parable represents four types of people.

They’re the ones that are apathetic, there are the ones that are hasty, there are others that are so entangled, but there are those that are fertile, which can be fruitful. And what the Lord is telling us here, is that the state of one’s heart shapes their response to the gospel. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with the message of the Gospel. It’s even the same message that we would be proclaiming and there’s no… there’s absolutely no problem about the message that we proclaim. It’s just that the hearts of people are different. It varies. It would depend whether the heart is unfertile, not ready to receive the word of God, or if they are ready to receive it. The apathetic ones were those who do not care. They can listen to the word of God they hear, they have that ability, he’s able to listen to the preach word but never minds to understand or even care on the word that was preached. Hence, it is from them that the evil one, the enemy himself would snatch the truth of God’s word like birds consuming the seeds that were sown along the path, and therefore even if you preach time and again to them, even if you remain faithful in the gospel proclaiming it to them, they would not respond whatsoever in any way shape or form. And there were those who are hasty. They get excited kapag narinig nila ang gospel..ganda nung pinreach mo sa akin! Tuwang-tuwa ako, na-encourage ako doon! But then, after trials after some difficulties that happened in their lives, ano ba itong hope na merong sinasabi mo!? Ano ba itong power na sinasabi mo dito sa salita ng Diyos? Parang hindi naman totoo. Tignan mo nangyari sa buhay ko. Ayoko na! You know what? I did not sign up for this. All I knew is that when I receive God in my life, mawawala lahat ng prublema ko. Well probably, he has heard a different gospel.

But you get the point. There are those that even though you preach the true message of the Gospel, they get excited pero later on, they would fall away. And there are those who are entangled, who are preoccupied with the things of the world. They hear the word and they are able to listen as well. But the world is just so better for them. These are the ones who are not willing to suffer the loss of all things for the sake of Christ. They could be too busy in their preoccupation in the world that Christ would simply be a hindrance to their aspirations, to their dreams, and to the things that they want to achieve in this world.

Sabi ni J.C. Ryle: “There are plenty ways to listen to the word without bringing profit to ourselves.” According to him, there are ways to hear the truth without benefiting from the truth. As seen in the case of the apathetic, the hasty and the entangled ones, they were thoughtless about the word of God they love their ears to be tickled with good words, but not the cost. They choke the word by the word world. But there were those who are fruitful. These are the fertile ones. They understand not simply that they were able to comprehend, but they were able to discern and they’re the ones who does and obey the word of God. In agriculture, a yield of a tenfold is considered significant. Kapag narinig niyo isang farmer na: “oh, I was able to reap a tenfold,” malaking bagay na sa kanila yun. And so for Christ to say that it yields a hundredfold, in another case 60, and another case 30, that is categorically miraculous. And we could actually say that our salvation is categorically a miracle. Because we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Only God can make us alive in our predicament, The produce is based on Christ’s words that He’s saying that it is a spectacular reap. The fruits that may be produced can vary: merong 160 and 30, but at the end of the day, true discipleship in Christ is productive. They would do the things that are… they would do things that naturally in their flesh. They would not do turning away from the advances of the world, turning away from sin, hating sin and having faith in the promise of God found in the gospel. Essentially we can categorise these two types of people: there are the unfruitful ones, the first three, and the fruitful one and the fourth one. All hear the same gospel, all hear the same message, but only one hears understands and bears fruit. And in this chapel, this morning, you’re in definitely in one of those categories. And so my question is: what type of soil are you? Which category do you think you belong? And I would issue this challenge to all of us: examine closely how your heart responds to the word of God.

The parable of the sower interprets the current state of our hearts. How do you respond to the word when it is read and preached? What kind of effect does it bring upon our lives? Well for sure because of indwelling sin, though we hear and understand, we could at times render ourselves unfruitful. When we fail to take the word of God seriously, when we become merely satisfied of hearing a good sermon not knowing that a sermon that has just been served is a sermon that is yet to be enjoyed and consumed. There is a part in us, my dear brethren and dear friends, that as we hear the sermon, our responsibility and our duty is to meditate upon the preached word. We allow the world to creep… worldliness to creep in our hearts not having the Lord as the object of our greatest affection. And therefore, laging nadi-divert ang attention natin when we don’t have the Lord as the object of our greatest affection. And we could even become so concerned that…maganda namang makita ang fruitfulness within the church when we become so inordinately concerned about it. We end up measuring ourselves against our brethren, saying that I am much needed here because I, I am more fruitful. You rank yourself above your brethren, believing that you are more important because you are more gifted.. forgetting the fact that our graces and our gifts are ultimately from the Lord. It is meant for the building up of the church.

In our scripture reading earlier in 1 Peter 1: 22-25, Peter is addressing the believers scattered across road that are being persecuted and he reminds them ultimately of the hope that they have in the gospel. And he said beginning in verse 22, having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, He commands them this time, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. Why? since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God The word of God, the gospel is the power that enables us to serve and to love our brethren seeing how Christ the son of man came to serve not to be served, but to give tHis life as a ransom for many, it becomes our example as we love and serve our brethren. And He goes on to say that “All flesh is like grass and all is glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word, the gospel is the good news that was preached to you. And for you my dear brethren, as you examine your hearts today may it lead you to rejoice on the fact that how would even sinners like us become a fertile soil? Left alone ourselves, hindi natin kayang gawing fertile ang ating mga puso. We would forever remain either apathetic, hasty and entangled by the goods of the world. God will never be a welcome guest and our hearts will be daily bent towards evil. But now as you hear and understand, it is because of the grace of God. Grasya ng Panginoon ito.. so give heed, meditate carefully on the truths given to us in His word. Seek to obey His words knowing that what He commands us does not intend to harm us, rather it does good to us and as well as to our neighbours, our brothers and sisters and the people we daily interact with. But if you find yourself on the basis of the word of God in the category of an unfruitful soil, you have brought yourself from simply hearing this message to having the opportunity to now understand it and obey it. And so dear friend, if you haven’t believed in Christ, bring yourself at His mercies because He alone can save, can give us eternal life, can take our hearts of stones and turn it and replace it with the heart of flesh and make us bear fruit for His glory.

We are amazed with the genius of John Calvin and he himself admits that prior to coming to Christ, he is not… he is not in a teachable form. Matigas ang kaniyang puso. He is a genius, magaling siya in terms of his academics, but with the things pertaining to God’s word, he would consider himself as the most resistant man. I’d like to quote the preface coming from his commentary in the Book of Psalms wherein he somehow gave an account of what it was like for him prior coming to Christ. “By God, but God.. rather by the secret guidance of his Providence, at length gave a different direction to my course, because he was pursuing a lot of studies, marami siyang mga preoccupations; he would wanted to be known as a a great writer during that time. And first, since I was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of popery. In fact, he was a Roman Catholic to be easily extricated from the profound abyss of a mile. So dine- describe niya kung gaano siya kalalim dun sa sitwasyon niya, being apart from Christ, God, by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind in a teachable frame which was more burdened in such matters than might have been expected from one at an early period of my life. Bata pa siya nang mga panahon na ito.. likely mga 23, 24, 25.. somewhere along those lines. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that though I did not altogether leave off other studies, nandun pa rin yung kaniyang mga pag-aaral, yet I pursued them with less ardor.” So nagkaroon ng great shift both. Nagkaroon ng radical change and there took place a great shift. His desire all of a sudden have become towards the things that are taught by the scripture. He now has an affection for the one true God because of the gospel. And then the priorities have changed from just being a well-known writer, perhaps a philosopher or someone who is… who has expertise in the field of humanism, to now becoming a preacher and eventually a pastor who would become a minister to the Church of Geneva for so many years up until his death. That is the kind of work that the grace of God does in the life of a sinner. And so my question is how are you responding to the word of God? Do you see yourself having a hard heart towards the things that pertains to the things of God that as you read His word, parang may kulang, parang hindi ito nagsi-sink deep sa ating mga puso. And that is calling us to come upon the mercy of Christ asking God Himself to make our hearts a fertile ground for His word to bear fruit. Though people may respond differently to the gospel, iba-iba ang mga soils, but recognising the grace of God, we can be assured that those who would hear and understand, it would receive.. they would receive the hope that is found in Christ and bear much fruit to the honour and glory of His name.

Let us pray. Our great God and Heavenly Father, the only reason that we can delight and even talk about your words is because of the fact that You have shown grace to sinners like us. We pray oh God that we would not remain, if there’s anyone who is here, who is still an unfruitful soil, we pray oh Lord that You would just change them and transform them into becoming a fruitful one. And for my brothers and sisters who are here struggling with sin, struggling with hastiness and are pre-occupied with the things of this world, that shows and gives resistance against the word of God, ang dalangin po namin Panginoong Diyos is that You would cause us to turn away from the things that holds our
desires captive and instead cause us to see our greatest delight and pleasure in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is in His Name that we pray, amen.

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