WALKING WITH JESUS MINISTRIES

 
 
TUESDAY TEACHINGS
 
 

 

A REVELATION OF……. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

The Call of the Kingdom

Part 1 of 3

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Many times the words of Jesus seem difficult to understand. We look at things from a limited, earthly perspective while He comes from the heavens. Intellectually and spiritually, His knowledge and understanding of the natural world and the heavenly realms, was, is, and forever will be, perfect, while ours remains only partial.

At times too, He explained things seemingly in superficial, general terms, to the level of understanding of His listeners. Often though, deeper levels of meaning are included, waiting to be revealed by the Holy Spirit to those who earnestly seek the greater truth. So we have layers of revelation and understanding of ‘The Word.’ Jesus, both the living word and the Bible!

The real beauty of the Bible as ‘His Word’ is that every time – if we are open –we read it, we learn something new about Jesus and His spiritual kingdom. How boring it would be if it was set out in the simplistic way of that great series of simplified of computer manuals - ‘XXXX For Dummies’, perhaps as ‘Salvation for Dummies’! For me, they need an even simpler computer series for ‘dumb dummies’ – but we wont go there!

I have heard and read the Parable of the Sower many times, absorbed the explanation Jesus gave His Disciples, and listened to many sermons explaining the explanation. But one day, as I was again reading this parable, the Holy Spirit gave me a further revelation. It changed the emphasis of, and transformed my understanding about, what was, and is for these days, the underlying and key meaning of this ‘story’. My wife tells me that I had been taught it a long time ago, but I had forgotten! So it was brought back to mind! Of course, being a male, my memory is far shorter than hers!

It’s now my pleasure to share it with you. I trust you will find it as inspiring and motivating in living your life, as it has been in mine.

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

PARABLES AND THEIR MEANINGS

THE DEVELOPMENT OF JEWISH SOCIETY - IN AND OUT OF ISRAEL
Nomadic Pastoral Farming
The First Gap
Settled Agriculture
The Second Gap
The Dispersion

JEWISH RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS – FOLLOWING THE CYCLE OF THE HARVEST

WHEAT AND BARLEY
Barley, Wheat
The Harvest
Threshing and Winnowing

GROWING THE BEST CROPS
The Best Seed
The Soil
Crop Care
Acts of God

 

The full background to this teaching is available online at this link
PARABLE OF THE SOWER BACKGROUND

 

 

Online links to scriptures (New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated) are shown in blue

 

Reading the Background is highly recommended to get the maximum benefit from this teaching. It's easy to understand.

 

 

FROM THE WORD

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER (Matthew 13:1-10)

 

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
 

 

THE EXPLANATION OF JESUS

 

 

Matthew 13:18-23

 

The most interesting thing about this explanation is not what was said, but what wasn’t! For Jesus clearly explains who enters the Kingdom of God as He describes the people illustrated by each soil type. Of course, all but the final group didn’t make it.

 

 

While this explanation shows how people enter the Kingdom, Jesus did not explain the key last sentence, which is about the Kingdom working in us. This ‘punch line’, potentially the deepest and most important part of the parable to the Christian, that of the seed grown in the good soil, is unexplained, but left for each of us to discover and apply to our own life. He explains all about the soil, but ignores the seed! Amazing! He and His Word (which of course is Him!) are just so full of surprises, of revelation, of unexplained depths of meaning, deliberately left waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us. 

 

NOT ALL CHRISTIANS ARE THE SAME

 

In a world seduced by a veneer of democracy, where all are supposedly equal, if only on Election Day, the concept of a heaven where everyone is the ‘same’ has natural appeal.

Parable of the workers in the vinyard who were all paid the same. The harder-working workers are shown on strike outside heaven.

We all know that we receive the same salvation, whether we have lived for God for 40 years or 40 minutes. The parable of the workers in the vineyard reveals that aspect of the Kingdom to us. The entry price is the same for all - acceptance of, and obedience to, Jesus.
 

 

 

However this equality of entry principle so easily leads to the popular misconception that there is also an equal reward for all, once entry is gained. Trying to put heaven into a human perspective is impossible, but the best example I can think of right now, is going to the theatre. All the seats to the performance are the one price of salvation through grace. But once you are inside, the ushers direct you to your individual seat, reserved in advance of your arrival. And the location of our seat is determined by our actions before we enter. For it is obvious that not everyone can sit in the middle, 5 rows from the front, in the very best seat in the house. While we all will see the play, some will inevitably see it from one side or the other, others from further back or even from the ‘gods’! (That is, the seats upstairs at the very top and back of the house.) Please excuse the terrible pun! 

 

 

This ticketing process, such an important truth, Jesus was revealing through this parable. (For reward details see 'A Revelation of… The Overcomers of Revelation) His parables are indeed designed to show Christians the deeper truths of His Kingdom. It's very good to hear about, perhaps with a smug sense of satisfaction, the three types of seed that haven’t made it to the stage of fruiting. But the emphasis and real point of the parable is on the fourth group, those who grow to harvest, who produce fruit.

While you can easily get bogged down and side tracked as to whether any of the first three groups made it into Heaven, this is not the real reason Jesus spoke. Briefly, the Calvinist school of theology would surely say some of these people did get there, because of their ‘once saved, always saved’ beliefs. The Armenians on the other hand, would argue none of these first three groups made it, as faith is to be ongoing and reflected in continuing works, which obviously wasn’t the case with any of these groups.
 

 

 

But the main point Jesus was making in the parable was this. Although all the seeds sown in the good soil are of a similar high quality and fertility, some will produce a 30-fold crop, some a 60-fold crop and the remainder, a stupendous, 100-fold harvest. So the real question is, “What causes or determines the differences in the harvest?” Jesus is saying that not all Christians are the same, but that some bear more fruit, or grain in this case, than others. This is the ‘Kingdom’ truth He was truly revealing.

Returning to our explanation of crop growing in the natural, we can see that of the four elements going towards making a crop successful, two can be immediately ruled out. Both the seed and the soil are of the same quality for all the ‘Christian Harvest.’ So that leaves the two remaining requirements of ‘Crop Care’ and ‘Acts of God.’
 

 

 

Acts of God, or circumstances beyond our control, or God making some of us more fruitful than others, has a certain appeal as an explanation. Personal responsibility for our actions, or rather, the lack of them, is absolved. It's always convenient to blame our lack of performance in life and God, on someone or something else, isn't it? Although it is true that the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ are given out in differing quantities and type as God pleases, we all have equal opportunity to develop the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ in our lives. To produce a 30 fold, 60 fold or 100 fold harvest. Yes, the harvest in this parable is about fruit, not gifts.

Gifts are given and gifts will end, as the scripture tells us:
 

 

1 Corinthians 13:8

 

 

The gifts pass away, marked 'return to sender', our God, for they were His to give in the first place. So when we get to heaven, the greatest evangelist, prophet or healer will no longer be able to exhibit the gifts that made them such heroes of the faith while on earth. All will be stripped away, and their spiritual fruit, the ultimate of which is love, will be all they will have to show. So we can now truly understand the Kingdom truth Jesus was speaking of when He said, 

 

Matthew 19:30

 

 

It’s so easy to say, “If only I had their gifts, my Christian walk would be much better than it is.” Another excuse - for it’s simply not true. Those with great gifts are often remarkably ordinary people, with many human failings, just like you and I – me anyway! Most often it is harder for the gifted person to build fruit in their lives, as the ‘gifts’ they have been given make it look as if their fruit has developed, when, in reality, it’s the fruit of the gifts, and not their own fruit at all.  

 

 

So this leaves us with the one remaining element of ‘Crop Care.’ Here the analogy with the natural breaks down a little. For instead of the farmer in the natural looking after the crop to achieve an even result overall, in the spiritual we, the seed, are individually responsible for the production of our own fruit. We must fertilize and water, that is nurture, the spiritual seed implanted in us at the time of our salvation, to produce the 30, 60 or 100 fold crop referred to.

Shadoof - a tool for lifting irrigation water.
 

 

James 1:2-4

 

Yes, it is the development of the Fruit of the Spirit in our life that brings us to maturity, that determines of the size of our spiritual harvest.

 

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HARVESTS

 

As we will see shortly, it is not by chance that Jesus quotes 3 levels of Harvest. What is particularly interesting though, are the differences in production levels.

This farmer is sifting corn in a large shallow sieve. This is shaken vigorously until the remaining weeds, dust and chaff rise to the surface, are collected and thrown on the heap of refuse. An early photograph.

The first group, the 30-fold harvest, obviously produces thirty times the amount of seed that was sown. (30 - 0 = 30) The second group doubles the first group's harvest at the 60-fold level. (60 - 30 = 30) The final 100-fold harvest level however, shows the greater incremental increase of 40 fold over the second group. (100 - 60 = 40) This is significant in that those who show the greatest level of commitment produce not only the largest crop, as would be expected, but one that is also greater relatively, than those of their less committed counterparts. This is a hugely important truth, as we will see.
 

 

GOD WORKS IN THREES

 

There are many patterns of 'three' found right throughout the Bible. Of course, we must start with the most important and difficult to understand of all - God himself. For God is three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet He is also one. A mystery we do not yet, but one day will, fully understand.

However, God clearly works in patterns of three, in most important matters of history and revelation. And generally, each of the three parts of the pattern emphasizes one aspect or person, of the Godhead. While the three are always present, there will be a particular emphasis on the one, either Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Father. As we look at each member or aspect of the Godhead, we see a reflection of the other two. For the three are inseparable, which of course leads to the vigorous arguments between 'Trinitarians' and those of the 'Oneness' movement. Like most theological arguments, there are truths on both sides. So let's not attempt to limit God by putting Him in a box of our limited human understanding. Rather, embracing the truths revealed in both approaches, leaving room for our understanding to become complete on that glorious day when we meet Him. (Or is it them?!)
 

 

 

Leaving aside that which sadly separates, we can see that there are patterns of three, both in our individual lives and that of the church, reflecting the 30, 60 and 100 fold crops that Jesus taught about in the Parable of the Sower. Indeed, this is the real revelation the Lord was teaching through the parable. 

 

<i>NEXT WEEK</i> A REVELATION OF&#8230;&#8230;. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER The Call of the Kingdom

 

Looking at how the parable applies to our life. 

 

A NOTE FROM DAVID

 

It's so easy in our dominant world democratic system to imagine Heaven as being a place where all are treated the same.

But this parable makes it clear that although we all have the same salvation, our fruits and in turn, our rewards differ. Something to ponder upon.

As we near Christmas, we (should!) remember Jesus but it is also a family time - in our culture, at least.

So over the next 3 weeks I will show some photos of our family. Today we have 'the Mothers' celebrating Christmas. Kathy's mother is on the right, mine on the left, and Kathy's Great Aunt Tuppy in the middle.
 

 

So until next week.......
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU BLESS GOD!

His servant and yours

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Previous parts of this Series (When applicable) are available to be read at:
www.wwj.org.nz/tuesday-teachings

 

 

 

A DAVID'S DOODLING

A foolish person seeks nothing, a wise one seeks 'to do', while the godly person desires 'to be'.

David Tait         

 

 

 

Earlier Series of "Tuesday Teachings" can be read at:
www.wwj.org.nz/tuesday-teachings

 

 

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More David's Doodlings: www.wwj.org.nz/dd.php
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