- Sermon Notes
Getting to Your Heart in the Matter
Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
Illus. Stay at 7.
This morning we will turn to beginning of Matthew 13, where Jesus gives a parable which is an illustrative story about a farmer who goes out to scatter seed with the desire that the seed would take root and produce fruit. As the Sower is scattering the seed, it falls upon 4 different types of soils and in the parable Jesus gives, it is the condition of the soil that is the determining factor in whether the seed takes root.
The word “Parable” in Greek means to “place, or lay, something alongside of something else for the purpose of comparison.” Here Jesus gives a spiritual or moral truth and expresses it by “laying it alongside” a physical example that could be easily understood.
It is here that Jesus highlights four different types of soils, that have the same seed sown upon them, yet each soil has a different level of readiness to receive the seed being sent.
As He explains the parable, what will become clear is that the seed is a picture of His word and the soils we see represent different heart conditions, there are conditions associated with our hearts that determine our readiness to receive His word in our lives personally. What is clear, however, is that our readiness, willingness, and ability to receive His word and let it take root, is tied to His ability to work in and with our lives and bear godly fruit.
One might be tempted to resist God’s Word in certain areas, to receive it only on a surface level, or to let the worries of this world get in the way. But I have good news for you today, the soil doesn’t have to stay the same, and so too, hearts can be changed. So, as we go through this parable, I ask that you allow the Lord to do a heart check, to test the soil of your heart, and allow Him and His word to get to your heart in every matter!
Read: Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
I. Cultivate the Right Conditions
Matthew 13:9, He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 13:18, Hear then the parable of the sower.
At the center of this parable lies the importance of hearing and understanding.
What Jesus is giving here is more than just a story, but the reality of what happens when His Word goes out.
In this parable there is the Sower sending out the word, the seed is the Word of God, the evil one is Satan and the four soils represent the heart posture of different hearers.
Illus. The way seed was sown…
Though much seed was scattered, what was yielded was distinctly dependent upon the condition of the soil.
This illustration would have been all too familiar to those hearing, but Jesus was drawing a parallel between the soil of the earth, and soil of people hearts.
Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Since everything you do and all that you are flows from the heart, Jesus wants to make sure that His word is taking root in our heart, and that fruitfulness for the kingdom is flowing from it.
In order for fruitfulness to flow, the seed of His Word has to be deeply rooted. In order for deep roots, there has to be a cultivation of the right conditions.
Let Jesus till what has been trampled
Matthew 13:19, 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 the one sown with seed beside the road.
The soil beside the road is illustrated by a path that has been walked on and over, again and again. These “roads” ran right through fields, and many would walk on them.
The soil in these places was so packed down that the seed which fell upon it, would not penetrate the ground at all.
The illustration is of one who hears God’s Word, and due to hardness of heart, the Word makes no impact.
This is not due to a deficiency in the message, but their determined indifference and hardheartedness.
There are some who have dropped all desire to understand, are determined to be indifferent, and therefore the seed doesn’t stay long.
It is snatched away, but there is a better way. The Lord promises to change our hearts if we come to Him.
Notice the seed is taken away. Jesus explained that the seed is snatched away by Satan, so the opportunity is lost.
The Bible tells us that Satan blinds the minds of the unbelieving in order to keep them from the blessing of the truth of God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The Lord wants to change hard hearts…
Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
For hardheartedness to be changed, one needs to put the plow in the hands of Jesus and let Him till what has been trampled, plow what has been packed down.
Perhaps you feel that your heart has been trampled on. The path so packed down, heart so hardened that you’ve come to believe there is no way one like you could be pardoned.
Isaiah 55:7-9, Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Psalm 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Matthew 13:20-21, The one sown with seed on the rocky places, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately he falls away.
The seed sown here falls on rocky ground. It has enough soil to receive the seed, the seed springs up, there is joy, however, the soil has a layer of rock under the surface ultimately making the soil too shallow for real roots to develop.
This is the one who due to lack of depth, is tripped up by tribulation, parched due to persecution.
The particular type of persecution and affliction that comes is because of the Word.
The persecution comes, and that person falls away. That phrase falls away is in a word in Greek (skandalizo), which is to cause to stumble, or take up an offense.
The picture is of a person who is offended, stumbles, and falls away when their initial response to Jesus’ Word is put to the test.
Until someone gets in the way…says something wrong, out of turn, hurtful, and causes offense…
Galatians 5:7, You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
John 15:18, If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
In order to cultivate the right conditions with this type of soil, the barrier rocks beneath the surface must be removed.
I encourage you to dig deeper so that deeper roots can be established. Be determined in difficulty to draw near, rather than steer clear.
Throw out the thorns
Matthew 13:22, And the one sown with seed among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, and the anxiety of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
The thorns in this type of soil prevent the seed from maturing. Specifically, the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of wealth.
The soil is fertile for God’s Word, but fertile for everything else including seed of words that are sown, in this soil, all types of other things are taking root.
Jesus talks about the deceitfulness of wealth: Riches, possessions, prestige, and position, are placed on equal footing with faith, rendering their spiritual life unfruitful.
What is being made clear is that riches will not deliver what they advertise.
Illus. The multimillionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked the question, “How much money is enough?”
CS Lewis wrote…”All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
Matthew 6:24, No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
In addition to the deceitfulness of riches, Jesus speaks to the anxieties and worries of the world which make the word unfruitful.
Matthew 6:34, Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
These things choke out the word.
The word “choke” here means to strangle completely, to drown, to crowd out, to cut off.
The person picture in Matthew 13 is hearing the word, that is clear, but the word is being choked out. Jesus also talks about the anxiety of the world as well and that the anxiety of the world, will choke out God’s word.
Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The word “anxious,” is worth our consideration, so that we can understand exactly what Paul is encouraging us to not be in our lives.
The Greek work here is meremnao. It is here translated “anxious,” and commonly translated into our English words worried, worry, or concern. To be anxious, troubled with cares or worry. It is used 19 times in the New Testament.
The roots of this word are interesting as well. It comes from two root words together. The first means to tear, separate, or divide. The second, means the mind.
To divide, separate, or cut one’s mind into pieces.
There are thorns being thrown and attempting to choke out God’s truth and word in and over your life. Throw out the thorn! One thing Jesus makes clear is that we are not to worry…He is in control and knows what we need.
Is your ability to see, receive, know, believe, and trust God and His word being strangled and choked out of your life due to the anxieties of the world? Throw out the thorns!
Jesus said your father knows what you need…He didn’t deny need, or the reality that there are needs. He didn’t push past the situation or place it to the side. The needs were and are real…So is God. In the midst of your situation, know that He knows and let your trust and faith in Him grow..
There are five times Jesus uses the phrase “you of little faith,” and in every case it had to do with worry, clothing, or life span (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28).
Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Take Steps to Ensure Depth
Those who hear the Word and accept it are compared to the good soil.
Matthew 13:23, And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
The seed that is sown on the good soil bears fruit. Therefore, when the seed has grown, it is known by what was sown.
Jesus is saying if you want to be fruitful to let His Word take root in your heart.
The Psalmist rejoiced that the one who delights in God’s Word and meditates on it day and night is “Like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it’s fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever they do, they prosper.”
John 15:5,8; “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As you continue to cultivate the right conditions…The weeds will still try to make their way onto good soil, rocks will get kicked or thrown there, thorns will try to make their way in throughout the day…
The good soil will need to remain kept up and ready to receive, knowing that when the good seed is sown, the Lord will determine what is grown.
Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13: 18-23
“Hear then the parable of the sower. 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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”