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The Parable of the Sower

(Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)

Lesson 1 -- second quarter 1996
March 3, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

Is the state of the one who "understandeth it not" hopeless?
How shall I deal with the thorns in my life?
How are riches deceitful?

The poor fellow with a way-side heart! Did you ever consider that he doesn't seem to have a chance? The enemy snatches away the seed before it can do much of anything. And if the sower scatters more seed there, the enemy will get it again. Even if the sower stands guard to shoo away the enemy, that seed won't accomplish much, laying there on that hard surface. No chance!

The hapless individual who "understandeth it not" finds himself stuck with a mind which just cannot "get" the Gospel message. Either the message is too simple or else it isn't simple enough! Romans 10:14 refers to the impossibility of believing in Someone of Whom they have not heard. Well, the way-side heart hears, alright, but the message doesn't connect, click or sink in. He's hopeless!

"No chance! He's hopeless!" Really? No, of course not! In the first paragraph, what if the sower sees the problem and prepares the soil before sowing the seed again? In the second paragraph, the problem in understanding doesn't seem to be mental. According to my source, the Greek word used here for "understandeth" is one that implies knowledge gained through the five senses. In other words, the way-side heart may hear the message with his ears, but perhaps he is not seeing and hearing it lived out. The clash between the verbal message and the life message leaves the seed laying on the surface, vulnerable to the bird.

In way-side-heart cases, the sower's effectiveness is immeasurably magnified . . . not by dumping seed repeatedly, but by preparing the soil carefully first. How? By earnestly, openly and consistently living the message he wishes to present. After that, he can effectively sow the seed.

Thorns. In a garden, in a flower bed, in a field, in a lawn--what a hindering nuisance they are! In our hearts, the thorns of wealth and material cares constitute more than a nuisance; they are a mortal danger! In earthly agricultural settings, we deal with thorns with a good yank (wearing gloves, of course) or with a powerful poison; I even use the boiling water from Ruby's (my wife!) canning projects! I have yet to hear of trying to make the soil so strong that it will itself deal decisively with thorns. I challenge you to present your class with some spiritual parallels to these things.

"'The love of money is the root of all evil.' Not money, mind you! There is nothing wrong with money. It's our attitude toward it that makes such a difference!" Ring a bell? I have said things like that, so I am here to humbly "eat some crow," as the saying goes. Today's lesson has a statement covetous, earth-bound malcontents unwittingly overlook: "The deceitfulness of riches." Sounds to me like Jesus wants us to catch on that wealth has intrinsic dangers! We have been warned plainly and explicitly--the cares, riches and pleasures of this life will choke the development of God's Word in our lives! Do you believe it enough to live it?!

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