How the Heart is Like Soil- Matthew 13:1-23

How the Heart is Like the Soil


Matthew 13:1-23

Have you ever wondered why do people react differently to the gospel?

  • Why do some pay no attention whatever?
  • Why do some start for the kingdom, only to stop?
  • Why are so many actual believers practically unfruitful?
  • Why are some so fruitful?

The answer: It’s a lot like sowing seed

The kingdom of God produces a bountiful harvest when planted in the proper soil.

The sower illustrates how conditions can affect the harvest of the kingdom (13:1-9).

Mat 13:1    The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

Mat 13:2    And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

Mat 13:3    And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Mat 13:4    And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Mat 13:5    Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Mat 13:6    And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Mat 13:7    And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Mat 13:8    But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Mat 13:9    Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The seed illustrates how communications can affect the harvest (13:10-17).

Mat 13:10    And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Mat 13:11    He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Mat 13:12    For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Mat 13:13    Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Mat 13:14    And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, (quoting Isaiah 6:9-10) By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

God conceals the truth from the willfully blind (13:11-14)

2Co 4:3    But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2Co 4:4    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Mat 13:15    For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

He confronts with the truth the hopelessly callused (13:15)- become fat – inattentive stupid, insensible. They hear heavily with their ears – are half asleep while the salvation of God is preached unto them.

Psa 119:69-70 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. (70) Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

Zec 7:11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Lest they should see their lost estate, and be obliged to turn to God, and seek his salvation. Truly deplorable is the state of him who is sick to the point of death, and yet is afraid of being cured. The fault lays here totally in the people, and not at all upon God, whose name is Mercy and whose nature is love.


Mat 13:16    But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Mat 13:17    For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

He communicates the truth to the completely earnest (13:16, 17).

Another way to say verse 16 is “Happy you, whose eyes and ears, voluntarily and gladly opened, are drinking in the light divine.”

Rather, “coveted.” Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the Old Covenant, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. These lived by and died in the faith of the promised Messiah: the fullness of the time was not then come for his manifestation in the flesh.

The soil illustrates how complications can affect the harvest (13:18-23).

Mat 13:18    Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

Mat 13:19    When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

Some never get started on their way to the kingdom (13:19).

Perhaps more properly, does not regard it, does not embrace it with his heart

The seed represents the word of God communicated in any way to the hearts of people – by the Scriptures, by preaching, by acts of Providence, or by the direct influences of the Holy Spirit

Here Satan is represented by the fowls that came and picked up the seed by the way-side. The gospel is preached to people hardened in sin. It makes no impression. It lies like seed on the “hard path;” it is easily taken away, and never allowed to take root because he is a careless inattentive hearer.

Pro 2:1-6 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; (2) So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; (3) Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; (4) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; (5) Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. (6) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Mat 13:20    But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Mat 13:21    Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Some stop before they get to the kingdom (13:20,21).

These folks hear with gladness of the peace, joy, forgiveness, and other wondrous benefits that one receives with salvation they don’t realize the gravity of their sin and the utter depravity of their hearts, that there is no real “goodness” within any human apart from that imparted to us from God. There is no “growth” or Fruit of the Spirit from these because there was no root taken to start with. Peter wrote that there are “7 Steps” or qualities that Christians have and he says of them:

2Pe 1:8-9 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

The Apostle John explains it further:

1Jn 2:19-20 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (20) But ye have an unction (the special endowment of the Holy Spirit) from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

Those that fall into this category were never really “among us” to begin with, not having come to the knowledge of their sinful selves. And when the inevitable trials, persecution and evils of this world come upon them, which they did not expect, they stumble and abandon their new, ungrounded faith. They don’t realize that these perils come to all of us and that we can overcome them only through and by the help of Christ Jesus. So, they endure only a short time, a season of tranquility, and then they lay down their cross at the first attack of the enemy. And here lies the reason that we, the Church, must be vigilant to disciple the new convert, helping them to put down firm roots in the faith.

Mat 13:22    He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.


Some shrivel along the way (13:22).

These begin well enough but allow the cares and the lures of this world to distract them, take their focus off of the eternal and put it on the temporal. The business of life, raising a family, providing for them, the fast paced world we live in today can and do distract, I dare say, all of us away from what is truly important – at least for some time, at some point – and that is having a right relationship with the Lord Jesus. And the desires of having “more” – which I think it unlikely that anyone can honestly say they have not had to some degree or another – hold countless snares and stumbling blocks that can entangle and trip us up before we even realize what it happening! I think that many fall prey to this due to slothfulness and a halfhearted attitude toward our walk of faith.

1Ti 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

Mat 13:23    But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Some shoot up on their way to the kingdom (13:23).

The heart that hears the Word of God openly and assesses its condition honestly, as God sees the person, is the good ground, plowed and prepared to receive the seed. It has been well said that “This heart submits itself to the full influence of truth, unchecked by cares and anxieties; under the showers and summer suns of divine grace; with the heart spread open, like a broad, luxuriant field, to the rays of the morning and to evening dews, the gospel takes deep root and grows; it has full room, and then and there only shows “what it is.””. This one who has taken in the Word, and put effort into learning and growing, he cannot help but to flourish and grow; to hear, to understand, and to bring forth fruit, are the three grand evidences of a genuine believer. He who does not hear the word of wisdom cannot understand what makes for his peace; and he who does not understand what the Gospel requires him to be and to perform, cannot bring forth fruit; and he who is not fruitful, very fruitful, cannot be a disciple of Christ, and he who is not Christ’s disciple cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

You see, the problems are with the soil, not the seed, so we should prepare our hearts to receive the seed of God’s kingdom.

Hos 10:12    Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.)

We can do this by tilling our soil (heart) through repentance by fertilizing our soil (heart) through submission; and by removing the rocks in our soil (heart) through discipline.

On the Home Front: Teaching Your Children the Importance of Prayer

I found the following story on the web this evening. It is purportedly a true story, written by Mrs. Caruso herself. I thought I’d share it because of the simple, innocent faith portrayed in the story, some thing I think we all could do with a little more of.

Matthew 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Beverly Caruso didn’t know how much her prayer principles had shaped her

children until their family was in Hong Kong on a short-term missionary trip.

Because it was an unplanned side trip, no one at home knew where they were.

They had spent the last of their money for a night’s sleep. They sat knee to

knee on the beds in that tiny YWCA room. Fifteen-year-old Dave inquired,

“Have you ever been in this situation before?”

“Just what do you mean?” her husband, Pete, asked.

“In a strange country, with no ministry, no money, and no one knowing where

you are?”

Discouragement evident in his voice, Pete answered, “Not all at the same


“Well, then, let’s pray,” Dave said. He went on to pray a faith-filled prayer

that astounded both Pete and Beverly.

The next morning they had breakfast at a nearby mission center. They were

introduced to the couple sitting across the table from them. The couple had

just arrived form the missionary base the Carusos had left three months

earlier. When the couple heard their name they expressed confusion. They

told the Carusos they were on their way to Singapore and had been asked to

hand carry a letter addressed to them. To the Caruso’s amazement the letter

was from friends at home and had been mailed several months earlier. It

contained a check – just the amount we needed to get them to their next place

of ministry.

The Scales

Matthew 6:8 …for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

I received an email from on old friend the other day. You may have read it, too, and it’s fairly long so I’m only going to summarize it: A lady in need asked for some groceries on credit. The grocer refused buy was shamed into agreeing by another customer. However he only agreed to give her groceries that weighed as much as her grocery list. The lady paused, scribbled on a scrap of paper and laid it on the grocer’s scales. It took many pounds of groceries to balance the scale. The list said only a short prayer “Lord, You know my needs”.

Did this miraculous event really happen? May be; but that isn’t the point. God does know our every need, before we even are aware of or ask for it. The lady in the story knew this, too. The difference and point I am trying to make between her and far too many today? Faith: faith that God does know, is sovereign, does care, does listen to our petitions and will answer us. We only have to have trusting, believing faith, as a child. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it really is just that simple.


Comfort Zones

I happened across this prayer today. I can only speak for myself on this but imagine that it applies to most all of us: we need to get uncomfortable for God and in doing what He would have us to do, everyday not only on Sunday morning or during midweek service.

“Heavenly Father, I know that You are the only reason why I live. I will follow Your command to step out of my comfort zone, or leave behind what is familiar to me for I know that You will not leave me nor forsake me. Thank you Lord that You will provide everything that I need and continue to provide me as You have promised in Your Word.”

Matthew 7:7-8
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.


James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

As we enter this new year of 2011 many, if not most, folks start out with resolutions: a sort of promise to themselves to make some, usually positive, change in their lives. These
resolutions are often hard work and generally fall to the wayside in a fairly short timeframe. Occasionally a person will be really committed to the change and follow through with it on a permanent basis.

In our verse today I believe that this is along the lines of what James is speaking of: having faith so committed to Christ that we follow through no matter what. Scripture makes it clear we are not saved by any works we do. But our love for our Lord, our
devotion to Him should be so great that it is manifested by a desire to His will. The greater our love of Jesus the more we are motivated by the love to move on faith for Him. I always kind of
equate this verse and thought with Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so
shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”; we do what He wants of us out of
love so that He may get the honor and praise and be magnified before the world.

Did you make any resolutions for 2011? How will God be glorified by/in them?

What If…?

Mark 10:27 … with God all things are possible.

One day a man was watching his young son struggle with the zipper on his coat and thought “What if there were a zipper without teeth? How much easier that would make it for children to dress themselves.”. And thus the “zipper-less zipper” was born, or Velcro as we now call it.

Of course this isn’t exactly how Velcro came to be but it serves our purpose. And you can look it up of you really want to know the true story of the invention. Nevertheless, the invention of Velcro revolutionized many products: every thing from cables ties to medical devices use it now.

I believe that our Father knew how desperately we would need help to make it through this life. I think that is one of the reasons He gave us the Bible, to guide us along life’s path as He would have us to go.

Now, lets look at our own “what if” questions: What if we all went back to Scripture for our guidance? What if we all believed God’s Word to be just that: the Word of God? What if we all lived each moment by the precepts that Scripture teaches? What if we prayed in trusting faith like Jesus taught? What if… we could go on and on but I think you see where I’m going.

Do you know folks that you long to see saved? I do, plenty. What if we shared these truths with them? What if we let them see us living our faith, crying out in prayer, walking the walk Christ walked? Maybe, just maybe, we would see more folks saved, stronger disciples, greater fellowship and love. By doing these very things the early church, a relatively small group if folks, revolutionized the world. Maybe we could revolutionize some lives for Jesus.

Holiday Springboard

Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Do you get irritated by people saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? Does it make you really want to bring to their attention that the holiday is all about Christ, thus the name Christmas? It does me. And judging from the number of emails circulating and other movements to keep Christmas, well, Christmas I’d say it does you, too.

Here’s a “springboard” for you to do that very thing. Do you know the origin of the word holiday? Let me share it with you: “Middle English, from Old English hāligdæg, from hālig holy + dæg day”
So, holiday actually means holy day. Explaining this definition to the “holiday” greeter is the perfect way for us to bring Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas out. It’s not too often that folks give you such an open opportunity to share your faith, is it? Don’t let a single opportunity slip by you this Holy Day season!