Matthew 13:1-23 Part 3

I am very excited about getting to the text of this parable with you this morning.  We’ve spent two Lord’s Days laying the groundwork and preaching through the context in order that we can understand what’s going on here.

And it’s important for you to understand that, in the parable, there is hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom.  And to some it is given to know the mysteries, and to some it is not given.  To the one who has ears, let him hear.

I think we can liken the parable to a very simple, but extremely dense, mass of material.  But which, once opened up and released, reveals the glory and brightness of God’s government of His creation – that God so loved the whole world that He gave His only Son, that, in Him, all things in that creation might be brought to completion for the glory of the Creator!  The mysteries inherent in the parable include the Providential plan of the Father by which He would terminate the more restricted covenant with the Judaistic nation and graft all the nations of the world into the Holy Seed which is Christ Jesus.  And now the covenant includes a progressive uniting of all the world into the flesh of the God-man – so that there might be a Holy Temple for all the peoples of the earth, and a Kingdom of righteousness and justice for all the families and tongues of the world.  This has been God’s “new covenant” from the beginning, hasn’t it?

Truly it is a great mystery that Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ. And, because of this, we can now understand portions of Scripture such as the prayer of our Lord in John chapter seventeen, where He says,


“Neither pray I for them alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.”


The prophets and righteous men during Old Covenant times wanted so badly to see all these things take place.  And angels desire to look into them – but they’re not included, so they can’t participate.  But it, indeed, has happened, and is happening!

And, as Jesus speaks to the nation in parables, He is confirming the prophecy of His Father through Isaiah the prophet that Israel would not see, and would not hear, and would not perceive in the heart.  And that prophecy also included the abrogation of the old covenant administration – along with the destruction of the Judaistic nation.  And, along with being the confirmation of the prophecy, this simple parable also includes within itself the fullness (completeness) of those mysteries!  And therein lies its huge power.

Now.  Having already dealt with verses ten through seventeen last week and the week before, let’s enter in to the parable itself.  And the way I propose to do that (and it will take more than this sermon to complete it) is to first approach it verse by verse – as we normally do with the text of Scripture; but, as you can see, there is the parable itself and then, there is a very broad explanation of the parable which Jesus provides His apostles separately.  And I say a “broad explanation”; technically it’s not an explanation at all, but simply the “side by side” comparison between the points in the parable and the parallel Kingdom realities in the plan of God.  The full interpretation of its meaning was left to the apostles – and, subsequently, to us through them.  But I will approach the verses as they come up in the parable along with the corresponding verse in the explanation.  Understand?  In other words we’ll deal with verse three and four along with verse nineteen.  And verses five and six along with twenty and twenty-one; and seven and twenty-two; and eight and twenty-three.  Okay?

Now.  As Matthew has recorded these events, we see in verse one that this is the same day, a Sabbath Day as a matter of fact, that Jesus had had the confrontation with the Scribes and Pharisees wherein they had required from Him a sign that they could see and, therefore, expose Him as a fake – or even confirm Him as a real prophet.  And, as you may remember, right after telling them that He would give them no sign except the sign of the prophet Jonah, His mother showed up, with His brothers, to see Him.

But, as Matthew says in verse one, this is the very same day.  Apparently Jesus had gone in to His house there in Capernaum for whatever reason.  And as Matthew continues, here in thirteen, He has come back out of His house and is sitting by the Sea of Galilee.  Apparently it’s an important day, since there are two chapters devoted to it.

Matthew also records that great crowds were gathered around Him at that time, and, for obvious practical reasons, He had to step into a boat in order to speak to them!  It is assumed, and for good and necessary reasons, that the multitude was crushing around Him in order to get His attention.  He had healed many, and He had cast out demons, and He had cleansed lepers, and He had raised the palsied and paralyzed – all in great numbers.  And they were there again to seek out His favor.

But, as you can see, this was not to be a healing event.  This was to be a speaking event!  And He proceeded to confirm and fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah chapter six in Himself.  As He began to speak in parabolic language, the glory and splendor of the Kingdom of the Heavens was revealed in such a way that the eyes and ears and heart of the nation were obstructed!  It was a crushing event!

But Jesus did step into a boat and cast off a little way from shore in order to be seen and heard, and in order to get away from those who would touch Him and beg for His mercy.  This was the time for prophetic confirmation and real judicial abandonment rather than for healing.

And Matthew says that Jesus spoke many things to them in parables – four of which are recorded here, and then four more later on which were spoken in His house and only to His disciples.

And as He begins here with the parable of the Sower, the power of the parables is immediately evident. 


“The Sower went out to sow...” (verse three). 


And it ought to be instantly manifest to the believer that what is represented here is the Government of God as He providentially controls the process of His Own Will.  History. Cosmos.  Salvation.

The Sower is God.  And the sowing in this parable is His Word; His speaking.  And this ought to bring to our minds, as we interpret this, that the “speaking” of God brought the world into existence; and that the “Word” of God was made flesh and was raised the Son of God with Power; and that the preaching of that Word is the power of God into salvation.  So, when the Sower sows, i.e. when God speaks, it is the “arm” of His Will.  His Word is the first cause of whatsoever comes to pass.

He laughs when nations are gathered together against Him, for He scatters them with the Word of His Power; and He establishes kingdoms and turns the hearts of kings; and He directs the course of history by His speech!  And the greatest work of all; - the speaking of His covenant to the pagan, Gentile nations, and uniting them in the body of His Son, Who is Logos – the Word!  There is the mystery of the Kingdom of the Heavens!

That Word is life.  And to whomever it is given to see and to hear and to perceive in the heart, a new creation comes to be!  The dead are raised to life, and they persevere in that life – for no other reason than the fact that God loves them and holds them and preserves them by the Word of His Power!

Matthew continues:  verse four,


“and in His sowing some fell beside the way; and the birds came and devoured them.” 


And verse nineteen, which is the comparison that Jesus made for His apostles: 


“And one hearing the Word of the Kingdom and not understanding, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart; this is that which was sowed along the way.”


Now, in reiterating some of that which was said last Lord’s Day, there are only two basic kinds of reception of God’s Word among men.  That reception by those to whom it has been given to see and hear and perceive; and that reception by those to whom it has not been given.  But when God speaks – when the Sower sows – His Word always accomplishes that which it is sent out to do.  And it is evident from the Isaiah six context, that the Word spoken was to blind some, but it was to open the eyes of others.  It was to blind Israel and open the eyes of the Gentile nations!

And what Jesus now is bringing to light are the immediate causes of God’s Word not being received.  God intends for the nation to be blinded, but what are the inherent causes – the sin in human nature – the depravity and uncleanness of men – the sources of evil in the very constitution of men, which are the reasons why they would not receive life by hearing the voice of God?  God does not bring forth sin – men and fallen angels do!  The sin is in men!  Men are the author of their own sin.  They are the ones who are at enmity with God and who reject life from God.  Only evil comes out of the heart of man continually, and Jesus begins to pinpoint that sin which has separated man from God and from life.

So as you look at verse four, what parallel figure does Jesus use to indicate that inherent and immediate cause for the blindness and rejection of the Word sown?  There is a horror taking place in Israel at this time that we’ve mentioned a number of times before.  And Jesus uses a common occurrence in sowing and planting to indicate that horror.  It is the birds!  The birds come and devour that which was sown in the “Way.”  Now, we’ll get to the meaning of “the Way” in a few minutes, but I want you to see the Biblical connection of the birds before we go any further.

Birds and beasts of prey are very often connected to places of wilderness and desolation.  And they are often figures of demonic activity.  You see, desolation and waste, as we see after the sin of Adam and Eve, is decreation and disorder.  The desert and wilderness is the place of sin and demons.  And when rebellion against God’s Covenant occurs, there is a devolving into chaos and demonic activity.  Cities and nations are sometimes referred to in Scripture as a wilderness because they have devolved into such a state of Satanic presence.

Moses, in chapter twenty-eight of Deuteronomy – which is his final exhortation to the nation – warns the nation of Israel that if they disobey God’s covenant their carcass shall be meat unto all the fowls of the air.  In other words, the whole nation will become a wilderness infested with unrestrained demons preying on them!

And we know that that indeed is exactly what happened.  By the time the apostle John was given the book of Revelation, Jerusalem could now be called “Babylon” because of the abandonment into demonism.  This is what John sees – chapter eighteen of Revelation: 


“After these things I saw another Angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory; and he cried out with a mighty voice, saying:  ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!  And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.'” 


So the angel’s decree applies the ancient curse of Moses to the rebellious Jews of the first century.  Because Israel rebelled against God’s covenant and rejected Christ, the entire nation becomes demon-possessed, utterly beyond hope of reformation!

Now, with that in mind, and since Jesus is bringing to light the immediate cause of the Word being rejected by Israel, let me ask the question again:  as you look at verse four, what parallel figure does Jesus use to indicate that inherent and immediate cause for the blindness and rejection of the sower and his sowing?  He says,


“the birds came and devoured them....”


And that’s exactly what He says in the explanation of the parable to His apostles, isn’t it?  Verse nineteen...


“Any one hearing the Word of the Kingdom and not understanding, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart; this is that which was sown along the way.”


The “heart” is used as the very center of a person – the self – and whenever he hears the preaching of the Word of the Kingdom, his rebellion against the demands of God’s covenant, and his rejection of Christ Jesus, and his collusion and alliance with demonic forces, the Word which is heard is snatched away from him to no effect! 

 Now, where have we heard this term “snatch away” before?  It was in chapter eleven verse twelve where it says that from the law and the prophets until now Satan has been trying to “snatch away” the kingdom so that the Son of God could not bring it into it’s fullness.  Of course, as you know, he was tricked into believing that he had to pull the coup of the cosmos when he instigated the crucifixion of Christ!    When in actuality, he assured himself of defeat and is later to be thrown into the lake of fire!

But here in verse nineteen we see the very same “snatching away” of the Word of the Kingdom in order that the Kingdom of the Heavens might not progress according to the plan of God.  And the connection between the common, every-day occurrence in the parable and the realities of the Kingdom of the Heavens is the relationship between the birds and demonic activity.

Now, before I get to further utilization of that information for every man at all times and in every place, I need to make some comments about the term that Jesus uses here which He calls “the way.”  “This is that which was sowed along the way” as it appears at the end of verse nineteen.  There is great significance in this term, just as there is in that of the next two parallels – the rocky places and the thornbushes.  And I want to make sure that we understand the term, and why He uses it rather than some other term which might be more appropriate to sowing grain in a field.

But this is a very common word which came into specific and powerful usage at the time of Christ.  There are over eight hundred examples of it in the Old Testament, some of which are figurative usages, but the height of its employment is its description of the entire Christian “message”, the kerygma, which came to be known as “the Way.”  Through all the Churches in the first century, this is how Christianity came to be known.  Everyone spoke in terms of “the way.”

Our Lord Jesus, in John chapter fourteen, says,


“I Am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”  


And just before that, He said that He was about to go to the Father; and when He did, He would prepare a place for us and receive us there.  And He did that.  And all believers now have access to the Father, in the heavenlies, through Christ Jesus Who prepared “that Way.”  And in that same chapter He leaves the apostles instructions include keeping His Commandments, living in Christ, living as the abode of the Father and the Son, and walking in the way of peace.  And all these things came to be known as “the Way.”

And I have no doubt that Jesus uses the term, here in the parable, in exactly this way in describing the preaching, or sowing, of the Word of the Kingdom.  In the midst of a demonic society, the apostles thundered the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ.  Everywhere they went, it was sowed along the way.”

And there are many similarities between the way people are acting now, and the way that that ancient culture was acting!  Then the demons ran free – they found their home swept clean of restraints, and they capriciously came back in and brought seven more who were more evil than themselves.  And they were unencumbered in making a spiritual wasteland of the nation!

And I want to tell you that, in our nation, all restraints on evil, and any motivation toward Godliness, are in process of being swept out of the land.  And the further that progresses, the more unrestrained will be the activities of the fallen angels.  They delight in the freedom of having no opposition!

And when they feel free to act almost as they see fit, their deceptions are wide-spread and deep.  And whatever true preaching of the Word of the Kingdom that might be going on, is snatched away as soon as it’s heard.

You see, under the deception of the angels, the sin which is the nature of men becomes exceedingly sinful.  Good becomes evil and evil becomes good; and the practice of that religion becomes fervent and public and devastating in its consequences.

Scripture says,


“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah seventeen, verse nine)


The heart, again, is the center of things, and it is used to refer to the “self.”  And with the condition of it, it’s easy for Satan and the other creatures that he leads to snatch away anything that men might hear of the Gospel.

Our minds are naturally empty of understanding of the Kingdom and its mysteries.  And in the place of understanding there are false concepts; The will, which is the commanding faculty of the self, rather than seeking out faithful duty to God, chooses only that which magnifies itself; And as far as the affections are concerned, the natural man hates what he should love, and loves what he should hate.  He is a spiritual monster.

So with a blind mind, a perverted will, and deluded affections, men think, and choose and love – the very things that liberate the demons to infect families and movements and countries and institutions!

As Cain was commanded by God to exercise control and dominion over the sin that was in him (which he did not do) so we all are commanded to control and restrain the perversions of our minds and will and affections.  But occultic phenomena are exploding into the society and culture of America; and, as a result, whatever sowing of the Gospel there is going on, very little is taking root.  Satan wants to snatch away the Kingdom!  And, as Jesus says here of the situation in Israel, the evil one is snatching it away!  By God’s design.  But this is the first here in the text of the immediate causes of men not receiving the Word preached in Israel.

And demonic infestation is one immediate cause of our precipitous spiritual situation.  There are some restraints still in place, but how much longer? (Isaiah)  People in the Churches who profess the name of Christ must begin to examine themselves concerning the depraved lust for the mystical and the mysterious and the experiential!  Since the mid sixties there has arisen this terrible desire for the new age games and movies and reading material and television.  The philosophy is pervasive – in the Churches as well as in the world order!  And the rise in family rebellion and feminism and environmentalism and animism and astrology are all evidences of demonic activity in this culture.

And we must resist it in ourselves; and we must resist it in the world.  We must not give up the battlefield.  And the answer is true public worship, and personal obedience and holiness in Christ Jesus; and the confrontation of that world order with the words of God.  As we’ll find out next Lord’s Day, the resistance to us will be fierce.  (And many fall away because of it!)  And the temptation to give up will be strong – coming from all sides!  But we must persevere – for the government rests upon the shoulders of the Messiah.  He has come to claim His Kingdom – that which is His by birthright.  And the gates of hell cannot stand against the onslaught of His Sword.  By faithfulness and prayer and preaching the Word of the kingdom, by His people this attempt by the devil to snatch away the Kingdom will not succeed.  We are more than conquerors – in Christ!

And in Him we are.  Through faith we rest in Him.  And His flesh must be the substitute for ours, and His blood must substitute for ours, and as we drink the wine and eat the bread, through faith our hunger and thirst are satisfied.  And through faith we take on His divine nature and character.  His virtue becomes our virtue, and our Father looks upon that with pleasure.

The Table signifies that.  It is the sign and seal of these things having occurred.  And as we, in faith, receive them, our Lord Jesus graces us with the nature of His own person.