Matthew 13:1-23 Part 6

As we’ve already noticed, the parable of the Sower goes way beyond our capabilities.  I don’t think we’re having too much trouble with the overall concept here, or even how lesser concepts fit into the whole.  But the trouble seems to be, as least with me anyway, putting together enough parts and holding them all together in memory long enough to take the next step!

As I said, we’re looking into the very eternal decree of God!  And the very thought of doing that is a bit frightening.  God is described in His Word as the One Who knows Himself searchingly and completely; and He knows all that is outside of Himself in all of its detail – for the idea of everything other than Himself was original with Him!  And, knowing Himself and all else so comprehensively, He then also knows the relationship between Himself and all else!  And He knows that comprehensively.

And all of this makes us uncomfortable when we attempt to attain to it, because we are creatures; and we don’t know anything comprehensively.  We’re trying to understand God Whose mind and person have no boundaries.  On the other hand, we who are created have boundaries in everything we are and do!

But!  We are made in His image; and that in order that we might communicate with Him and obey Him and enjoy Him.  But we sinned and died!  The creature decided he wanted to be just like the incomprehensible and infinite Creator!  It’s such inane behavior to attempt that.  But we did – and we do!

And, then, God cursed mankind – and the earth – with the result that man could not communicate with Him or enjoy Him or obey Him; couldn’t even be in His presence!  But!  God so loved His creation that He sent His only Son as a substitute for us that we could, again, communicate with Him, enjoy Him, obey Him – and love Him in return.  And He sent the Spirit to teach us how to do that!

And now the mysteries of this great Kingdom are revealed to us.  And we are graced by God with eyes to see and ears to hear; and we seek Him and the knowledge of His Kingdom with joy and zeal!  His infinite incomprehensibility doesn’t discourage us at all – rather, that very thing excites our appetites for knowing more, since there is always more to know!  And the fact that He is also close and present with us, and in us, is the guarantee that our joy and zeal aren’t misplaced!

We know so much more about the Kingdom now than we did before we began the parable of the Sower six weeks ago, don’t we?  It would be impossible to recap all of what we’ve learned and still complete the last part of the parable.

But we do know that the Sower sowed all along the “Way.”  All over Israel the seed was sown.  In every little town and village and community, Jesus and His disciples preached “the Way.”  But Israel was, tragically, so involved with demonic forces that there was no rooting and no growth of the Word among them.  Satan, the father of lies and deception, snatched it away.

Among them there were some who seemed to spring up when the sowing occurred!  But the withering heat and wilderness drought of persecution and pressure caused them to be crushed on the Rock – which is Christ.

And yet still others had their eyes and hearts on themselves and the world around them; and that served to effectively choke off the sowing.

So what we have here, as we look at this nation as a whole, at the time of Christ, is a very nasty situation that had been prophesied (warned against) a number of times in the Old Testament.


1.     They had turned from God’s Law; and, therefore, they degenerated into lawless demonism (which is always the end of disobedience).

2.     Secondly, their religion – which was supposed to have been the worship of the one True God through faith in the Coming Messiah – had immediately degenerated due to syncretism with the surrounding heathen idolatry.  And when the anticipated Messiah came, He was the Rock foundation under the New Temple which crushed the nation.

3.     And, thirdly, Israel had not only received the pagan idolatry of their neighbors, but they had also taken on their philosophy of life – enlightened self-interest!  Those great cities and nations – Tyre and Sidon and Babylon and Alexandria and Athens – they were free from restraint, and they seemed to be full of life and vitality.  They were rich and happy and wild and promiscuous and complex!  And the entanglement with this world order choked Israel until the vine died.

So, there was:  1) lawlessness, 2) idolatry, and 3) lust for the world.


But, when the Sower sowed, some fell on “good earth” didn’t it?  Verse twenty-three: 


“But that sowed on good earth, this is the one hearing and understanding, who indeed brings forth fruit and produces the one a hundred, the other sixty, the other thirty.”


Let’s all be warned that this is parabolic language.  And it is not to be read or interpreted mechanically!  And let me give you an example of that once more so you’ll be able to recognize it.  For instance some would say that since there are four kinds of soil here, then twenty-five percent of the people of the earth must be the number of those to be saved!  (one of four)  Those are the ones who are able to receive the Word when it is sowed!

Now, other than the fact that this kind of exegesis is plainly ludicrous, it is so very obvious that the three kinds of unproductive ground in Israel have nothing to do with the numbers, or percentages, of people involved with each of these sins; Jesus’ focus, in the parable, is not percentages of people, but the condition of the nation which God had set apart for Himself!  It was 1) lawless, 2) idolatrous, and 3) worldly!  And it was about to be burned with the heat of the indignation of God.

And what was to be put in its place?

As Peter said, “We have a more sure Word of prophecy….”  Instead of trying to interpret parabolic language by mechanism, or by spiritism – let’s go to the “more sure Word of prophecy.”  That’s where we’ve gone each time to discern Jesus’ meaning, isn’t it?  The Bible is plain; although sometimes difficult.  And the rule is that the Bible is its Own best interpreter.  Peter said, “Prophecy is not of private interpretation…” it is the inspired Word of God, he says!

So why would anyone dig around in their own knowledge base, or in twentieth-century experience and imagination, in an attempt to create sermons on soil preparation?  Or the numbers involved in the rapture?  Or the attributes of a good teacher – one who sows and weeds and waters!  That’s not the purpose of the parable!  It’s not about farming.  It’s not about preparing the soil for the seed.  It’s not about numbers and percentages.  It’s not about “what makes a good teacher or preacher.”  It’s not about weeding, or watering or turning the soil.  And it’s not about the different kinds of “fruit” that comes forth!  Sermons of those things might produce nice gardens, or better farmers and ranchers; but they won’t produce much fruit from the Word sowed!

But what does the “sure Word of Prophecy say?”

It says that God will make a complete renovation of the earth!  In Jeremiah chapter thirty-one, God declares a New Covenant with His people; and this is a covenant which promises that the seed of Israel will cease being a nation, and that the heaven and earth that He measured out originally will be completely renovated!

And listen to Isaiah as he describes the complete renewal of the earth, in chapter sixty-five:


“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind….  I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy… and they shall not build houses, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.  They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.”  (This is the same parabolic language.)


And chapter fifty-one, verse three:


“For the Lord shall comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert places like the garden of the Lord….”  (The earth renewed!)


And again, listen to Ezekiel chapter thirty-six:


“Thus saith the Lord God; ‘In the day wherein I shall cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be built upon:  and the desolate land shall be cultivated, whereas it was desolate in the eyes of every one that passed by.  And they shall say, ‘that desolate land is become like a garden of delight; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are inhabited.’  And the nations, as many as shall have been left around about you, shall know that I the Lord have built the ruined places and planted the waste places; I the Lord have spoken, and will do it….’”


Now these are just a few of the hundreds of places in Scripture in which the covenant of the Lord to His people is spoken of in terms of the renovation and renewal of the earth.  Where there was once desolation and waste, there is now a new heaven and a new earth – one which is good.  The “good” earth.

In the New Heavens and the New Earth (says Isaiah chapter four), the Lord shall judge among many people afar off and rebuke strong nations; and they shall beat their swords in to plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks – both of these terms having to do with planting and reaping of the “good earth” as a result of the New Covenant!

In the promise of the restoration of Jerusalem, the prophet Malachi says, verse twelve: 


“For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things….”


And listen to the prophet Amos, chapter nine, verse thirteen:


“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes by him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.  And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel; and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.  And I will plant them upon their land….”


And Hosea, chapter fourteen, verses five and following:


“I will be as the dew into Israel; he shall grow as the lily, and strike forth his roots as Lebanon.  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his fragrance as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon….”


All of these have to do with the renovation, or re-creation of the old heaven and earth where there was only wilderness and chaos and lawlessness.  When God created heaven and earth, He called it “good.”  And when the Covenant in the blood of Christ was fulfilled, He recreated heaven and earth and called it “good.”

So, when we go back to our text this morning, the parable of the Sower, and we read this:  “But that sowed on good earth, this is the one hearing and understanding, who indeed brings forth fruit…” how do we interpret it?  I think it becomes very conspicuous and demonstrable that it must be seen in the light of the old demonic, rocky, thorn-filled nation of Israel being taken away; and the New Covenant coming into the fullness with the whole earth!

The nation of Israel, filled with thorns and briars, was offended and crushed by the Rock which was Christ; but now all the nations of the earth are “good earth” because of the New Covenant.  And the whole world is now the recipient of the grace of God in Christ Jesus!  One nation was “cut off” so that all peoples of the earth could be grafted into the trunk of the vine.  And now it all produces fruit.

And it is obvious, too, that all the earth will not produce the same fruit, but that some will produce more than others; for Jesus says that some will produce a hundred, some will produce sixty and some will produce thirty.  But all will produce fruit!  For the covenant has been made with all the earth, and all peoples of the earth – all for the glory of the Father!

In the twenty-second chapter of Revelation is the vision of the New Jerusalem continuing.  The Chalice-angel shows John a River of the Water of Life, clear as crystal, coming from the Throne of God and of the Lamb….  And on each side of the River was forests of Trees of Life.  And as the vision proceeds, John sees the trees producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding every month!  It’s a continual yielding!

And according to the Gospel of John, chapters four and seven, this River of Life is flowing now and will continue to flow in an ever-increasing stream of blessing to the earth, healing the nations, bringing an end to lawlessness and warfare.  The Garden of Eden, with its River of Life flowing from it and the tree of life, were representative of the covenant of God with creation; but it all died in sin.  But now, in Christ Jesus, it is restored!  His suffering and death and resurrection is the River of Life to the world; and wherever it flows it brings restoration and re-creation to the world.  And it grows and brings forth fruit!

Just listen to the prophecy of these things from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, chapter forty-seven:


“Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from the threshold of the house eastward; for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.  Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the outer gate by the way that looks eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side….”


After that Ezekiel describes the measurements of the waters and their ever-deepening flow.  And then he continues:


“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that lives, which moves, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed; And every thing shall live whither the river cometh….  And by the river upon the bank thereof, on the side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months; because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary….”  (The Temple which is Christ and His people.)


This is exactly what John saw in his vision of the New Jerusalem.  By His covenant the Salvation of God will go out in every direction and into all the world; and whatever it touches will live.  It is the re-creation of all the world anew.

And as far as people are concerned, this River of Life flows to them and washes them and gives them life.  And they become, by the grace of God in Christ, fertile ground for growth and fruit.

“But that which was sowed on good earth, this is the one hearing and understanding.”  The Word of God strikes its roots deep and solid into one watered by the River.  And he then overcomes every obstacle that would prevent him from bearing fruit.  No one is free of thorns, but this parable is not concerned with the amount and quality of faith.  There is no perfect faith.

And even though the produce in some is greater than in others, it is the produce of the Word of God sown into the regenerating work of the blood of Christ.  And there is no end to the flowing of the River of Life.  And there is no end to the life of the trees which sink their roots into it.  And there is no end to the production of fruit unto the glory and honor of God.


“And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land; neither bear the shame of the heathen any more.  Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they are My people.”  (Ezekiel thirty-four, verse twenty-nine)


So….  The great Prophet, Priest and King Himself has used the entirety of the prophetic Word – HIS Word – to reveal the government and administration of this creation.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

It is abundantly clear that the whole earth is His focus; and the “earthy” language of sowing and roots and water and growth is the parabolic and metaphoric language of all the prophets.  That language refers to all the earth – including mankind.  He who has eyes to see, let him see.

To some – an ever increasing number – it has been given to know these things; for the River of Life flows ever more widely – and deeper – into the nations of the earth.  And everywhere it flows there springs forth life!  And that life is produced abundantly; it produces continually!  Hear the language and perceive in the heart.

The intent of God the Father, and the goals of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom are co-terminus.  The King of Kings (Who ONCE paid for it all) will administer the whole until the intent of the Father is complete.  And He will be satisfied with that faithful administration of the creation which He so loves.  Nothing will be left which will cause the Father any dissatisfaction!  The Son won’t allow that!  Believe it!  Perceive it!  The government of it all is cast in agrarian language of the prophets to reveal it.  But to some it has not been given to see with their eyes, or to hear with their ears, or to perceive in their hearts.  But to you (He says to His apostles), to you it has been given.  Blessed your eyes; and blessed your ears; for they see – and hear; and you perceive in your hearts – the Kingdom of God and His chosen Administrator – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.