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Matthew 13:1-23


Thus far in our study of Matthew, We’ve seen that Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and healing ministry have become opposed by many of the religious leaders of the day. I’d dare say many religious leaders still oppose the Christ of the Bible and have traded Him in for something more comfortable, more Americanized. In this context, the opposition was growing louder, so He teaches to the crowds in parables. The parables give just enough insight to those in which the Holy Spirit is working in order to cause them to thirst for more. In verses 1-9 Jesus begins His recorded parable teaching ministry with the Sower and the Seed. He explains this parable to the disciples in verses 18-23. The question that the disciples ask and that we want to answer this morning, is why did Jesus teach in parables?
The Purpose of the Parables (Matt. 13:10-17)
a. There was opposition from religious leaders. (Matt. 13:11; 13-15) It was not yet time for the cross. Jesus had more work to do before the redeeming work of the crucifixion. If Jesus would have shared everything in a plain, easily understandable way, the opposition who was looking to destroy him as stated in Matt. 12:14, would have done so quickly. God’s timing is perfect! He’s sovereign within Christ’s death, resurrection, and your birth and rebirth!
b. The crowds were indecisive. (Matt. 12:23) “And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” Jesus would give just enough insight to the crowds in order to call forth those who would follow Him. The mysteries were reserved for those who would follow Jesus. The indecisive onlookers would not have privilege to the glorious message until they followed Christ.
c. The followers of Jesus were given clarification. (Matt 13:16-17) Jesus will give clarification to those who seek a relationship with Him. Listen to Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” The word “seek” in Hebrews 11:6 literally means to seek after or seek out, to investigate. If you investigate the claims of Christ you will find Him. I believe that. Jesus makes this promise in Matt. 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Jesus is not wanting to pass out information, He’s wanting to see transformation! He’s wanting to invest in those who will turn the world upside down and right side up for His glory! He’s looking for followers, not occasional fans! Brad Arnett has a great article that was published concerning the opposition of the religious leaders and indecisive nature of the crowds. I can get you a copy if you’d like.
David Platt suggests three principles to seek to understand the parables: 1. Listen from the hearer’s perspective, 2. look for the main point, 3. let the truth change your perception.  Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
The Possible Outcomes When Planting (Matt. 13:18-22)
Jesus is the sower and the seed is the message of salvation. The soil in which the seed is planted into is the human heart. The seed or the message of salvation is received in different ways. Jesus uses this agricultural illustration to show the different possible outcomes of the spiritual planting process.
a. The Hard Heart (v.18) This is the person who hears the message, yet rejects it.
b. The Hesitant Heart (vv.20-21) This person may have received the message with joy at one time, but when persecution or even peer pressure from friends says that Christianity is not true, they’ll abandon the faith. One cannot lose salvation according to John 10 and Romans 8, they were never rooted in a sincere relationship with Christ anyway. This would be an emotional experience or ‘easy-believism’ in which there is no fruit present from a true salvation. George Whitfield preached powerful messages during the First Great Awakening. People would respond to these messages. When others would ask Whitfield how many were saved after a powerful emotional message, he quickly reply, “we’ll see in a few years.”
c. The Half-Hearted Heart (v. 22) This would be the person whose heart is divided. They’re half-hearted. They may want the benefits of salvation without the sacrifice. They’re more concerned with the temporal pleasures and possessions of this world. Jesus warned about this in Luke 12:15 “…Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
d. The Healthy Heart (v.23) This would be the person who has received Jesus Christ as their Savior and is actively serving Him. Their concern is being a disciple who makes disciples.
The Power of Proclamation (Matt. 12:23) I’m reminded of Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” There is power in the proclamation of God’s Word! Success is not whether or not the seed produces fruit, that’s God’s job; success is planting seed! We’re called to be faithful; God will make them fruitful!