I’ve been wrestling a great deal with several schools of doctrine/theology (all within the framework of Biblical Christianity). I’ve stated before that I consider myself a recovering Pentecostal. I am not recovering from Pentecostalism just to follow some other doctrine of man, or some other proof-text backed orthodoxy. My aim is that of the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola gratia, Sola fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria (Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone). From time to time, I will speak out against various doctrines and teachings here, but this blog’s purpose is to focus on what the Word of God does say (Sola Scriptura) rather than to chase down every doctrine of man trying to demonstrate what the Bible doesn’t say.
Today, I’d like to take a look at the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds. We will be focusing primarily in Matthew 13, but I will also include Mark 4.
To set the stage a little, in Matthew 12 we see Jesus flat-out establishing Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath as He first defends His disciple’s act of picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. He then pushes further by healing on the Sabbath, and rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and rejection of God’s Laws for their own. He then casts out demons in front of the scribes and Pharisees and they accuse Him of casting them out by the power of Satan. After willfully rejecting Jesus, to include the signs and wonders performed by Him thereby blaspheming the Holy Spirit, they dare to demand a sign from Jesus. It is this portion that I’d like to read through to set up our study:
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
Something greater than Jonah and Solomon was there, in their midst, speaking to them face to face. Today we have His Word, and God the Holy Spirit who testifies of God the Son who is at the right hand of God the Father. Let’s skip ahead slightly to Matthew 13 (and Mark 4).
Matthew 13:1-9 (ESV)
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Mark 4:1-9 (ESV)
1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
In both accounts, the disciples ask Jesus why He speaks in parables. We are going to skip this discussion for now, but know that we will revisit this portion (CTT: Why did Jesus Teach in Parables). Suffice it to say that unless Jesus explained the meaning of this parable, we’d all be lost. Praise and thanks be to God for providing us with its meaning in scripture.
Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV)
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Mark 4:13-20 (ESV)
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
This parable pertains to the individual’s response to the Word of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the imperishable seed.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
The Gospel is the beautiful and perfect Word of God. It is the Gospel to which we are to hold fast and to preach, being good stewards of God’s Word. When we preach, we should make sure that what we preach is the Word of God, the imperishable seed (Sola Scriptura). It does no good to mix in the commandments/doctrines of men, for only the Word of God brings life. The words of men, well… they don’t come from us alone, but they come from the evil one. For the flesh is cursed by sin and death, and the heart of man is sinful as a result. Paul articulates this well in Galatians 6:
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Now then, Jesus goes on in Matthew 13 to share another parable. This one pertains to the Kingdom as a whole rather than to individuals. Let us read.
Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV)
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Matthew 13:36-43 (ESV)
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
In this parable, the good seed represents the sons of the kingdom, believers, Christians. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior has sent us into the world. The evil one also has his own seed, those who are slaves of darkness, born dead in their sins and trespasses. The harvest is the end of the age, when Jesus Christ returns with His army of angels (the heavenly hosts) to bring judgement upon the unrighteous and blessing to the sons of the Kingdom of God. To highlight the point regarding the harvest at the end of the age, Jesus breaks from the farming analogy and moves to that of the fisherman (He was, after all, teaching by the sea).
Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV)
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It is amazing to me to read each of the epistles in the New Testament, how each one bears a reminder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in each reminder we see a reflection of what these men were taught by Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus spoke in parables and rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of understanding. But God the Holy Spirit opened up the Truth of the Scriptures to His Apostles and granted them boldness to preach what Jesus had done in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and to the ends of the Earth. And so, brothers and sisters, it falls to us to continue in Him, in His Word, preaching and pursuing His righteousness by His Grace through Faith in Christ to the Glory of God alone!
I hope you have found some encouragement in today’s look in the Word. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or message me privately. In closing today’s post, I’d like to visit Peter’s opening declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.