The gospel separates the crowd from the committed. Until you accept the person of Jesus Christ, you will not understand and obey the teaching of Jesus.
BREAKING THE ICE
This week’s parable has an agrarian theme of planting and harvesting. If you had to plant a garden with one food item and could only eat one food item out of that garden for the rest of your life (and that is the only thing you eat), what would it be?
EXPLORE AND DISCUSS
“The question that the parable of the sower answers is, Why do some respond in faith to the Messiah while others do not? The disciples may have been asking themselves, What went wrong? Why are people not accepting the king and his kingdom? Is there a problem with the king? Or his message? Jesus’ first parable suggested there was no problem with the farmer (Messiah), or the seed (his message), but the problem was with the soil (the people hearing).” - Holman New Testament Commentary on Matthew
The parables of Jesus speak to each of us wherever we are in our relationship with Christ. Some of us, as fertile soil, have received the Word of God to salvation. Others, have yet to receive salvation. Likewise, there may be some we know who have yet to receive salvation. Each of us represents one of these types of soils. This discussion will allow us to examine the soil in our lives, as well as, understand the soil in the lives of those around us.
Read Matthew 13:4 and 13:19
And no doubt this is what the Lord has in mind when He talks about the way side. The dirt would then be packed down, beaten hard, uncultivated, never turned over, never loosened, and by all of the continual pounding and pounding and because of the dryness of that part of the world, it would be compacted to the point where it was like a road, it was as hard as pavement. And when the farmer came along and threw the seed and it went beyond the furrow and landed on that hard surface, it could not penetrate the ground. And it would lie there on the top and birds would hover, no doubt, until the farmer turned his back and as he started down the next furrow, they would land on the hard surface and they would eat the seed. And what they did not eat, Luke says, was trampled by the feet of men who were passing through the fields. That’s the way side. The birds and the men removing the seed which cannot penetrate the soil. -John F. MacArthur Jr.
Consult MacArthur’s notes to answer the following questions:
According to Jesus in verse 19, what does the birds and the path represent?
Why is the path hardened? In what ways has your heart been hardened from hearing the truth of God’s word?
Why is a hardened path/heart an easy target for the birds/Satan to steal the seed/Word?
Since then, by some strange impulse, you are very rarely absent from God’s house; but now the seed of the gospel falls into your soul as if it dropped upon an iron floor, and nothing comes of it. The law may be thundered at you; you do not sneer at it, but it never affects you. Jesus Christ may be lifted up; his dear wounds may be exhibited; his streaming blood may flow before your very eyes, and you may be bidden with all earnestness to look to him and live; but it is as if one should sow the sea-shore. What shall I do for you? Shall I stand here and rain tears upon this hard highway? Alas! my tears will not break it up; it is trodden too hard for that. Shall I bring the gospel plough? Alas! the ploughshare will not enter ground so solid. What shall we do? O God, thou knowest how to melt the hardest heart with the precious blood of Jesus. Do it now, we beseech thee, and thus magnify thy grace, by causing the good seed to live, and to produce a heavenly harvest. - C.H. Spurgeon
When you share your faith with others, friends, family, coworkers, etc., how have you seen the truth of God’s Word stolen from a hardened heart by the enemy? In light of what we have read and discussed this week, how has your understanding of their response to and reception of God’s word been impacted?
Reflecting on Matthew and Spurgeon, how do we respond to those whose hearts are hardened and are being robbed of the truth of God’s Word?
Read Matthew 13:5-6 and 13:20-21
According to Jesus in verses 20 and 21, what do each of the symbols used by Jesus represent? Rocky ground, soil, and sun?
Take an honest assessment of your heart, how do you know that the Word of God is truly taking root in your life? On the rocky soil the seed grows, but it doesn’t last. What is the difference in seed continuing to grow in fertile soil and dying out in rocky soil?
What trials and hardships have you faced that have attempted to destroy the work that God is doing in your life?
How does this help you understand those who have heard and understood the truth of God’s Word yet do not sustain their faith?
Read Matthew 13:7 and Matthew 13:22
So much then about the seed: it was good seed, it was sown, it was received by the soil, it grew and promised well, but yet in the end it was unfruitful. No doubt multitudes, who receive Christianity, become regular attendants at our place of worship, and are honest in their moral character; but Christ is not all in all to them; he holds a very secondary place in their affections. Their wheat is overshadowed with a thicket of thorns, and is so choked that it comes to nothing. Their religion is buried beneath their worldliness. Sad will their end be. God in mercy save us from such a doom! -C. H. Spurgeon,The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 34
According to Jesus in verse 22, what do the thorns represent?
Take an honest assessment of your heart, what have you allowed or are allowing to choke out God’s truth in your life?
Do you ever find yourself “going through the motions” of being a Christian as Spurgeon describes?
Knowing that sin chokes out the Word of God in some, how does that help you understand people in your life who may be experiencing “choking out” in their relationship with Christ?
Read Matthew 13:8 and 13:23
What is the fruit that you have seen grow out of the Word being planted in the fertile soul of your heart?
How do you notice potential fertile soil in others that may be receptive to the Gospel?
He chooses a seed, and a seed is weak, a little thing. You don’t drop a seed into the ground, saying, “Bombs away!” because you drop a seed and you can’t even find the seed after you dropped it. Three out of the four soils reject the power of the word. The first one doesn’t let it in at all. The second one is excited about Jesus but really just wants miracles, really just wants good times, really wants just needs to be met. The third group, of course, is very, very concerned about what the world thinks and about the issues of the world and gets choked. How do you know that your heart is fertile soil? - Tim Keller
Of the soils mentioned, what type of soil are you? How do you know?
How do you ensure that you are cultivating a fertile soil for God’s truth to grow in your life?
Use the RANSOM method to study Matthew 13:1-23. Compare this passage to Mark 4 and Luke 8. What similarities do you notice? What differences?
For further guidance on the RANSOM Bible study method see:
For free Bible study resources use:
Blueletterbible.org or Blue Letter Bible app