Being in the ministry can be discouraging at times. What? How can that be? How can sharing the Good News possibly be discouraging? It can be discouraging because as the parable under study shows, not all ‘seed’ that is sowed develops. There are many times when Believers witness to unbelievers and the unbeliever will agree with Jesus – in principle - but have no intention of obeying Him. That’s a discouraging thing to see. When I started in the ministry, I thought that I, personally, could ‘save’ the world. The Good News is such awesome news that I thought I could convince anyone – regardless of the hardest of their hearts – to follow Christ!
What a surprise was in store for me! I came to understand that God simply expects me to ‘go and tell’. God expects ALL Believers to be ‘sowers’ of the Word. Jesus gave the great commission to go and preach the Good News to all nations. We are the ‘feet’ of God. We are His ‘arms’ and ‘voice’. The Church – the body of Believers – is chartered to ‘plant seeds’. If the ‘hearer’ – that is the ‘soil’ - of the Good News is receptive, they will truly hear the message and respond. The truth is that I – or any other evangelist - can’t ‘save’ anyone. That’s God’s department! I believe that Jesus gave Matthew 13 to those of us who need encouragement in the ‘fields’. It speaks to me, and I hope to you, that we never know how the seeds we plant will react. It is our job to plant – that is what Believers do.
When Jesus used parables, the ‘story line’ was simple. Those receptive fully understood the ‘earthly stories that had a heavenly meaning’. Jesus never hid truth in a parable. Jesus was able to get His message of truth to sincere seekers but yet not provide His enemies with ‘ammunition’ for an untimely situation. That is, Jesus had a mission to fulfill and He carefully guarded Himself against those who would have Him killed ‘before His time’. What if you are an unbeliever? What does Matthew 13 speak to you? Have you examined yourself – the ‘soil’ – to see what your composition is?
The different types of soil in this parable represent people in different states. These ‘states’ are hard hearted people, shallow people, people who are too wrapped up in their own worries, and some – Praise God – are receptive people! Which are you? Are you bitter towards God and will not believe regardless of how much sense Jesus makes? Does your hard heartedness prevent you from coming to Jesus? Are you so shallow that what Jesus says makes sense but you can’t see how the Good News applies to your own life? Does your shallowness allow the ‘seed’ to germinate only to wither when trials come? Are you so worried about everything that you simply don’t take the time to really listen to the message of the Good News because the world distracts you too much? Are you so worried about being in ‘control’ that you can’t see that only God is truly in control? Are you a receptive person who wants Christ to change your life? Are you to the point in your life where you realize you need a Savior?
The crux of this parable is found in verses 36 – 43. Here, Jesus plainly tells that He is the farmer. During the time Jesus ministered on earth, the term ‘seed’ typically implied a wheat seed. When fields are first planted and the seeds begin to grow, blades begin to protrude up from the earth. In the first stage, a blade of wheat and a weed look a lot alike. Only as time goes on can the wheat be recognized as being wheat and the weed as being a weed. In the end, the good (wheat) and the bad (weeds) will be separated and only Jesus will be able to make the final judgment. When the final judgment is made, those who were unreceptive due to hard heartedness, shallowness or distraction will be thrown into the fire where there will be much weeping and the gnashing of teeth. The ‘weeping’ term used here represents sorrow and remorse. The ‘gnashing of teeth’ represents extreme pain. Isn’t it sad that those who hear the Good News and choose to reject it are basically saying they do not care what happens to them after they die! What a horrible thing to be separated from God for all of eternity!