“Good Seed. Good Ground?” | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

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When prophets had a word from God, they often spoke poetically.

Like fire shut up in the bones (cf. Jer 20:9) they couldn’t sit and let-it-be

I pray before my words that the Spirit goes ahead-of-me

That I may glorify the One who died for sin instead-of-me

We gotta be the wheat, instead-of-the-weeds (cf. Mt 13:24-29, 36-43)

We gotta follow Christ, not go ahead-of-His-lead

We gotta focus on the gospel, instead-of-the-greed

Instead of spreadin’ gossip, let’s keep spreadin-the-seed


Last time we talked about how Jesus calls His disciples to be fishers of people (Lk 5:1-11). We are called to catch others for Christ. Since Christ caught us with His grace, we should faithfully strive to catch others.

As it’s been said, evangelism is like one poor beggar telling another poor beggar where to find food.

But when we try to spread the grace of the gospel, let’s not be surprised to see the face of the hostile. The Gospel is always good seed, but it doesn’t always fall on good ground.

Yet, we have to keep sharing the Good News – whether it takes root or not. For the Gospel is also the best news in the world.

And, nowadays, we know people have no problem sharing all other kinds of news. We share about politics and the pandemic, we share about sports and entertainment, we share music and memes.

And if we’re honest, sometimes we overshare.

Maybe it’s just me, but don’t you hate when you’re in the store and someone is talking all loud on speakerphone? I’m like: don’t they realize that everyone can hear them.

(Example): Yea, I don’t know, Doc. This hemorrhoid cream ain’t working.

I’m like, I don’t need to know all that. I’m afraid we live in a TMI society with TLC: people share Too Much Information but Too Little Christ.

Some of us will share ten times a day on Facebook: half might be true and none will be about Jesus.

If people visit our social media profiles, they’ll know the schools we attended, the sororities and fraternities we’re members of, the sports teams we root for, the causes we support – but will they know the God we serve?

And people share with no shame. You ever answer the phone and it’s some scammer trying to rip you off with a deal that too good to be true? I’m like: how’d you even get this number? And they be so bold.

How much more should we be bold, when proclaiming news that is both good and true?!

And we should be bold because we have been commissioned to spread the Good News of our Resurrected Lord. We are commanded to strive to make disciples of and baptize all nations, and to teach them to obey Christ’s commands (Mt 28:19-20).[1]

We don’t write the message, we’re just the messengers. And I wouldn’t be a good messenger, if I didn’t share the message.

One day my wife and I are studying in a coffee shop. Then a lady and her friend sit down next to us and proceed to have the just loudest conversation of all time. I mean, Kristin and I both have headphones in, and the coffee shop also has background music playing, and we can still hear this lady shouting.

To make matters worse, she was speaking loudly about her problems with vaccines. My wife was still a medical school student at the time, so you can imagine that a loud conversation on this topic did not do wonders for her productivity.

Now, when she’s not working in the hospital (she’s a pediatric medical resident), she has days where she works in a clinic. Sometimes she comes across parents who also have misgivings about giving their children vaccines.

Not all vaccines are the same and I won’t get into that debate, but I took what one doctor said to heart. She said one doctor essentially told a father, I would feel like a bad doctor if I didn’t tell you that your child should get a vaccine from a physician.

In the same way, I would feel like a bad messenger if I didn’t tell you that you should get The Vaccine from the Great Physician. For the sacrificial blood of Jesus is the only vaccine for the consequences of sin (cf. Jn 3:16, 3:36, 5:22-24, 8:24, 14:6, Ac 4:12, etc.).

Now just like people can choose whether or not to receive a vaccine, people will choose whether or not to receive Christ. But’s it’s my job – it’s our obligation – to spread the gospel (cf. Eze 2:7; 3:18-19; Ac 22:30).

How could we withhold this life-changing message that concerns salvation for all eternity? Some will love it, many will hate it (cf. Mt 7:13-14),[2] but they can’t say I didn’t try to communicate it.

Context: The Redeemer’s Message & Miracles Produce Mixed Results

Before we get into today’s text, let’s first examine the context.

Have you thought to yourself: “If God would do more miracles, maybe more people would believe in Him. Perhaps if there were more extraordinary evidence, more people would have extraordinary faith?”

But as we see in Scripture, both Christ’s message and Christ’s miracles produce a mixed bag of responses.[3] Some believe in Christ, but at this point in Matthew, there is growing opposition.[4]

In Matthew 11-12, we see a sampling of these varied responses to Jesus’ message[5] about the Kingdom of Heaven[6] – the Kingdom of God.[7]

For even John the Baptist appears to be unsure of Christ’s messianic credentials. As we read in Matthew 11:2-3:

“2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mt 11:2-3, NIV).[8]

After Jesus cites His miraculous signs as evidence that He is the messianic Savior, He condemns towns who did not believe in Him even though they had seen miraculous evidence.

For example, as we read in Matthew 11:20-22: 20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.

21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you (Mt 11:20-22, NIV).

Even though towns saw the Savior’s signs, many refused to repent.

After Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath, we see in Matthew 12:14:

But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” (Mt 12:14, NIV).[9]

After Jesus drives a demon out of a man who is blind and mute, we see in Matthew 12:24:

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Mt 12:24, NIV cf. 9:34).

So, while Jesus is busy with miraculous medicine, the Pharisees are busy with mapping out murder. Though He’s divine; they claim He’s demonic.

Furthermore, apparently not even Jesus’ family were followers. After His Resurrection they believe (cf. Ac. 1:13-14), but here, they’re outsiders. As we read in Matthew 12:46-50:

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:46-50, NIV).[10]

Now, especially in this culture, disavowing one’s own family would have been unheard of.[11] But those who deny or oppose Jesus – who came to do the Father’s will – actually deny or oppose the Father[12] (cf. Jn 5:22-24).

Those who obey the Father, like Jesus, are a part of Christ’s true family.

In reading these passages, an obvious question arises: Why are so many of the people of Israel rejecting the Messiah of Israel?[13]even after seeing the miraculous evidence?

Both Christ’s miracles and Christ’s message produce a mixed bag of responses. The Parable of the Sower (cf. Mt 13:18)[14] – also called the Parable of the Four Soils[15] – explains why:[16]

Parable of the Sower (Mt 13:1-9)

Matthew 13:1 Out by the Sea

As we read in Matthew 13:1: On that [same] day, Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea (Mt 13:1, AT).

This is the same day that Jesus left his family outside[17] the (likely Simon and Andrew’s (cf. Mt 8:14))[18] house (cf. Mt 12:46-50, NIV)[19] and the Pharisees challenged him (yet again) (Mt 12:22f.).[20]

Jesus just told His disciples that they were His true family; now He will elaborate on family privileges.[21]

Matthew 13:2 Watery Pulpit

Continuing in verse 2: And great crowds were gathered before him, so then He stepped into the boat to be seated [to teach], and all the crowd stood on the shore (Mt 13:2, AT).

His disciples likely joined Him inside the boat.[22]

As we’ve said before, teaching from a boat was often Christ’s way of crowd control.[23]

Ever have someone be all up in your personal space? I be like, “Yo, I should not be able feel your breath on my neck. And why can I tell that you had a taco for lunch?

Even before it was mandatory, I was all for social distancing. People can be personal space invaders.

In any case, teaching from the boat would allow Jesus and His disciples to be distanced from the crowd.[24] Unless they wanted to wade in the water, they would have to give Him some space.

Once again, Jesus preaches from a watery pulpit (cf. Lk 5:1-3).[25]

Jewish rabbis usually sat down when teaching,[26] and this lesson may have taken place at what’s been called the “Cove of the Parables”[27] – along the Sea of Galilee[28] (cf. Lk 5:1-2).[29]

"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

Matthew 13:3a What’s a “Parable”?

In the first part of verse 3, it says: Then He spoke many things to them in parables. (Mt 13:3a, AT).

Now we often think of a parable as an “earthly story with a heavenly meaning”[30] but the Greek word (παραβολή | parabolē) more generally refers to a “comparison, type, figure”.[31]

And the related verb actually means “to throw alongside, compare”.[32] A parable throws two subjects together for the sake of comparison.[33]

Jesus has previously taught in parables (Mt 5:25-26; 9:12, 15-17; 11:16-19; 12:29, 43-45;[34] cf. Mt 7:24-27).[35] But this is the first time the word “parable” (παραβολή | parabolē) is used in Matthew.[36]

For example, in Matthew 9:12 Jesus says,  

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Mt 9:12b, NIV).[37]

Solomon, who was mentioned in Mt 12:42, also spoke in parables.[38] As we read in 1 Kings 4:32: He spoke three thousand proverbs [מָשָׁל | māšāl cf. LXX] and his songs numbered a thousand and five. (1 Ki 4:32, NIV).[39]

Moreover, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word translated parable actually translates a Hebrew word (māšāl) that describes not only allegorical parables, but also proverbs, fables, riddles, and cryptic sayings.[40]

You see, as it’s been said, a parable is a figurative saying that “does not carry its meaning on the surface.”[41] Therefore, hearers must contemplate it and strive to understand.

Unfortunately, these are things not everyone will do.[42] As a result, like Jesus’ miracles, parables produce a mixed bag of responses: some are enlightened, some are puzzled, some are even repelled.[43]

As we’ll see, understanding parables depends not only on one’s previous understanding, but on one’s willingness to understand.[44] Parables both reveal truth to those who seek it, and conceal it from those who don’t.[45]

As it’s been said, “belief and commitment lead to further knowledge; unbelief leads to further ignorance.”[46]

The issue is not merely cognitive, but volitional.[47] And, as it’s been said,

“Jesus deliberately concealed the Word in parable lest men against their will should be forced to acknowledge the Kingdom, and yet He allowed them enough light to convict them and to convince them.”[48]

Matthew 13:3b-4 Seed by the Path

Let’s strive to understand Jesus’ parable about a farmer who sows seeds. Consider this: A sower went out to sow seed. (Mt 13:3b, AT), 14 some of which fell by the path while he was sowing, and the birds came and devoured them. (Mt 13:4, AT)

In Galilee, in the first century, most people were peasants,[49] and their society revolved around farming.[50] So, this illustration suits His audience.[51] People would sow seed “broadcast” style, scattering it in all directions by hand.[52]

This path likely refers to a footpath not a road (for vehicles).[53] Perhaps the wind carried the seed,[54] but the text does not elaborate.

Wheat and barley were the main crops in 1st century Palestine,[55] but the text doesn’t say what kind of seed was sown.

Sometimes farmers would sow seed before plowing the seeds in the soil (cf. Jer 4:3)[56];[57] sometimes they would plow both before and after.[58] Seed that not yet been plowed in would be easy pickings for birds.[59]

Matthew 13:5 Seed on the Rocky Ground

Jesus continues in verse 5: But others fell upon the rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly since they did not have deep soil (Mt 13:5, AT).

Many parts of Galilee had rocky land with bedrock close to the surface.[60]

"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

Often, there would actually be a layer of limestone that laid only a few inches beneath the soil.[61] Moisture could be trapped in the shallow soil above the bedrock,[62] and this could lead to fast growth.[63]

Matthew 13:6 Fast Start, Fast Finish

Verse 6 says: But when the sun rose, they were scorched. And since they had no root, they were dried up (Mt 13:6, AT).

The stone would prevent the roots from growing deep, and the hot sun would dry up the moisture[64] (cf. Jas 1:11).[65] This plant looks promising at first, but it doesn’t last[66]  – it’s “short-lived”.[67]

It’s fast growth may even have been detrimental since there would not be sufficient time to grow deep roots.[68] And, even in Palestine today, one can see a flower shrivel in seconds when hit by the hot wind and sun.[69]

Matthew 13:7 Seed Among the Thorns

In verse 7, we read: But others fell among the thorns, and thorns grew and choked them (Mt 13:7, AT)

Such thorn plants in Galilee grow more quickly and have more durability,[70] due to their strong roots.[71] "Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

In April, some thistles can grow over a meter tall.[72]

"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

And these thorn plants can survive even if you cut them down; they have to be torn up by the roots.[73]

In this third example, the soil is decent – but there is competition for sunlight and nourishment.[74]

Now we see a progression with each case. The first seed never sprouted, the second seed sprouted quickly but quickly withered, and the third seed sprouted but was eventually choked.[75]

In any case, none of these are of any use to the sower.[76] They’re useless. If you’re a farmer, the only plants that really count are the ones that produce fruit![77]

Matthew 13:8 Seed on Good Ground

In verse 8, Jesus says: But others fell on soil – the good soil – and produced fruit which was some hundred, some sixty, some thirty(fold) (Mt 13:8, AT).

The text does not elaborate on the proportions of various seed. So, we don’t know if only one fourth of the seed was sowed on good soil.[78] Also, these are likely not the only four possible scenarios of seeds.[79]

In any case, as it’s been said, in this day, a plant producing thirtyfold was the “low side of normal”.[80] Sixtyfold would be “averagely good” and one hundredfold would be “very good, but not miraculous”.[81] Yet, producing one hundredfold was indicative of God’s blessing.

As we see in Genesis 26:12:

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him (Gen 26:12, NIV).[82]

This is a blessed harvest.

Also, notice how there is a variety in fruitful productivity,[83] but each plant is still fruitful. Each plant is still useful.

Matthew 13:9 Listen Up!

Jesus concludes in verse 9: To the one who has ears, I command them to hear! (Mt 13:9, AT)

In the Greek, this is a present-tense (third-person, plural) command, indicating that Jesus is giving orders about something that should be done continually.[84]

Jesus alerts His audience that there is a deeper meaning in this agricultural lecture.[85] He is likely commanding people to both have a willingness to listen, and to respond appropriately.[86] We must be hearers and doers of the Lord’s word (cf. Jas 1:22).

Why Does Jesus Teach in Parables? (Mt 13:10-17)

Matthew 13:10 Why Not Spell It Out?

Verse 10 says: Then the disciples came before [Him] and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” (Mt 13:10, AT).

The disciples are wondering why Jesus is using figurative language. Why doesn’t He just spell it out?[87] To present a parable without an explanation is like “presenting a riddle instead”.[88]

Now, again, the disciples are likely on the boat when they approach Him.[89] The disciples are the ones with the privilege of private inquiry.[90] They’re in VIP.

Now, don’t you have some information that you only share with certain people? Some things are supposed to stay in the family. Some things we keep in-house.

Sororities, fraternities, clubs and companies: all kinds of groups have secret information that’s only for insiders.

Matthew 13:11 Insiders vs. Outsiders

Jesus responds in verse 11:[91] And He said to them, Because to you[92] it has been granted to know the mysteries[93] of the Kingdom, but to those [people] it has not been granted (Mt 13:11, AT).

Jesus says it has been granted by God the Father (Divine Passive – “God is the assumed actor”)[94] for the disciples to know the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Jesus elaborates on these mysteries in subsequent parables in Matthew 13.[95] Many see this verse as a support for the doctrine of election.[96]

With the First Coming of Christ (the King!) the Kingdom or Reign of God that was foretold in the Old Testament was inaugurated (cf. Mt 3:2, 4:17, 10:7, 12:28).[97]

As He explains later in Matthew 13, the in-breaking Reign of God starts hidden[98] – like hidden treasure (Mt 13:44) – and small – like a mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32). But it grows – like yeast working its way through dough (Mt 13:33).

And, it will continue to grow until it is fully consummated at the end of the age[99] on the Day of Judgment – which is metaphorically referred to as a harvest (Mt 13:30, 40-43, cf. Mt 13:47-50).

The knowledge of the mystery of the Kingdom has been revealed to the disciples and those who put their active trust (i.e., faith) in Jesus – who is the Messianic King![100] To others, who reject Christ the King, it remains a puzzle (i.e., parable).[101]

Concerning the Kingdom of God, there’s basically two types of people: insiders and outsiders.[102] Haves and have-nots.[103]

Insiders get inside information from God; outsiders do not (cf. Mt 11:25-27;[104] cf. Mt 13:35; 16:17).[105] Understanding comes from being on the inside[106] – from being in Christ’s family.

Matthew 13:12 Use It Or Lose It

Jesus continues in verse 12: For whoever has, it will be granted to them[107] and they will be made to have an abundance.[108] But whoever does not have, even that which they have will be taken away from them (Mt 13:12, AT; cf. Mt 25:29).[109]

This has been compared to the law of atrophy.[110] As they say: “use it or lose it”.[111]

If you don’t use your muscles, they become weak. If you do use your muscles, they become strong.[112] Similarly, those who work out their spiritual muscles will get stronger still.

Spiritual couch potatoes will fall more and more out of shape.[113]

The disciples already have (at least some) knowledge of the Kingdom.[114] But, eventually their knowledge will be overflowing.[115]

For insiders with spiritual understanding will grow in understanding from additional teaching.[116] Outsiders with little to no understanding will lose what little they have already rejected.[117]

Matthew 13:13 Won’t Hear, See, Perceive

In verse 13, Jesus says: For this reason I speak to them in parables, because[118] though they are seeing, they do not see, and though they are hearing, they do not hear nor understand (Mt 13:13, AT).

We know that people can hear something without truly understanding. A person may sing beautifully in a foreign language, but if we really don’t speak their language, we really don’t know what they’re saying.

Jesus is alluding to Isaiah 6:9-10 (cf. Mark 4:12 = Luke 8:10; John 12:39–40; Acts 28:26–27).[119] Isaiah was commissioned to prophesy in ways that would bring about rejection from many in the unrepentant nation of Israel.

Some argue that God intends some people to understand and others to not understand, though affirming that it is possible for people to outsiders to become insiders.[120]

Others say Jesus is being merciful by not revealing more truth, since with more revelation comes more accountability[121] (cf. Lk 22:48).[122]

Matthew 13:14-15 Don’t Want To Hear, See, Perceive

(chiastic structure)[123] 

In Matthew 13:14-15, Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 (LXX)[124] outright.[125] He says: 14 And the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled[126] by them, the one saying: “You will indeed hear and never understand, and you will indeed see and never perceive. 15 For the heart of the these people has become dull | and they have heard heavily with their ears | and they have shut their eyes | So that they may not see with their eyes | and hear with their ears | and understand in their heart | and turn around and I would heal them (Mt 13:14-15, AT).

Now, in modern thinking, the heart is the seat of the emotions and romantic feelings. Many love songs talk about how one feels in one’s heart. “And every day love me your own special way, melt all my heart away with a smile”.1

However, in ancient thinking the heart (καρδία | kardia) was the seat of one’s feelings, thoughts, and will[127] (cf. Mt 5:8).[128]

We all know King Solomon asked the LORD for wisdom. But in 1 Kings 3:9, it more literally says:

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong… (1 Ki 3:9a, NIV).

Thus, believing in your heart that Jesus is the Resurrected Lord (Rom 10:9), means much more than merely believing with your emotions. It means believing with all that is within you.

Now to hear heavily (βαρέως | bareōs) is an expression that means to hear “with difficulty”.[129] It’s like saying someone is “hard of hearing”[130] or “hardly hear[ing]”.[131]

Ever say something to somebody and they don’t respond appropriately? And then you might ask them, “Do you gotta hearing problem?” It’s not that they didn’t hear you, they’re simply acting like they didn’t hear you.

Similarly, when it comes to God’s word, many of us are hard of hearing. We might hear it, we might read it, we might even know it by heart. But we don’t act like we know.

So, are we truly hearing? Are we truly seeing? Are we truly understanding? It may be time for a spiritual eye exam.[132]

Jesus is saying that people don’t truly hear because they don’t want to hear; they don’t truly see because they don’t want to see; they don’t understand because they don’t want to understand.[133]

Many people don’t know the truth because they don’t want to know the truth. They want to continue living life on their terms,[134] instead of giving their life on Christ’s terms.

Jesus speaks as Isaiah did because of their self-hardening.[135] Because of their self-hardening, Jesus will continue to speak in parables – and many will continue to fail to understand (cf. Mt 7:6).[136]

Isaiah’s prophecy to unrepentant Israel who refused to turn to God, applies to Jesus’ unrepentant listeners who refuse to turn to Christ.[137]

It’s really two sides of same coin: Jesus speaking to them in parables is both the reason and the result (cf. Mk 4:12) of their hardness of heart.[138]

If they did turn around – if they did repent[139] and turn to the Lord – they would be healed. They would be healed and restored from the consequences of their sin.[140]

Sin is a disease;[141] Jesus has the vaccine. If people turn around and become insiders, God will restore them. This is likely not a divine refusal.[142]

Yet, with some, there may be both an element of human guilt and divine judgment[143] (cf. Mt 12:31-32).[144]

Remember during the Exodus that Pharaoh first hardened his own heart, and then, as it’s been said, God “hardened it further in judgment”[145] (penal blindness).[146]

It’s as if God says, “OK, you don’t want to understand? So be it. As you wish” (cf. Rom 1:18-32).[147]

God knows those who will accept Jesus and those who won’t.[148] And God isn’t going to force anyone to be in His Kingdom, to be an insider, to be a part of His family.

As it’s been said, there are essentially two types of people: those who tell God, “Thy will be done” and those God tells, “Thy will be done.”[149]

Those who are hellbent on staying on the outside, will do just that – for all eternity.

Matthew 13:16 Insider Information

In contrast,[150] Jesus tells His disciples in verse 16: But blessed[151] are your[152] eyes because they see and your ears because they hear (Mt 13:16, AT). The disciples of Jesus truly see and truly hear – for they are insiders.[153]

Matthew 13:17 Your Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams

In verse 17, He says, For Amen I say to you: many prophets and righteous [people] longed to see what you see and did not see, and to hear what you hear and did not hear (Mt 13:17, AT)

Whereas the unrepentant crowds parallel unrepentant Israel, Christ’s New Testament disciples, parallel the Old Testament saints[154] (cf. Mt 5:11-12),[155] here the righteous refers to people of the past who did not live to see Jesus’ earthly ministry,[156] but awaited the coming Messiah and were faithful to the LORD.[157]

The prophets foretold of and looked forward to the coming Kingdom of God/Heaven (cf. Heb 11:13, 40;1 Pet 1:10-12;[158] Heb 10:1, 11:39f. Eph 3:4f.;[159] cf. Mt 11:11-13).[160]

In John 8:56, Jesus says to His opponents:

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (Jn 8:56, NIV).[161]

But they thought He was talking crazy and again tried to kill Him (Jn 8:57-58).

Some people are hellbent on staying outside. But Christ’s disciples are blessed because they’re on the inside. The disciples are blessed because they have seen the Messiah and the beginnings of the Kingdom their ancestors dreamed of.

And these insiders are about to get some inside information.[162]

Many unwisely believe that the meaning of the parable was not given by Jesus, but by the early church.[163]

Parable of the Sower Explained (Mt 13:18-23)

Matthew 13:18 The Sower Explains

So, in verse 18, Jesus emphatically says: You,[164] therefore, hear the parable of the sower (Mt 13:18, AT).

And by hearing, Jesus likely refers to truly hearing – to truly understanding.[165]

As in the later Parable of the Weeds, the Sower is most likely Jesus.[166] As we find in Matthew 13:37:

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Mt 13:37, NIV).[167]

Jesus will describe various responses to the seed – the seed of the gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom[168] (cf. Mt 4:23, 9:35, 24:14).[169]

Matthew 13:19 Hard-Hearted Hearers

First, in verse 19, Jesus describes hard-hearted hearers. He says: From all who hear the message of the Kingdom and do not understand, the Evil One comes and snatches what had been sown in their hearts. This is what was sown by the path (Mt 13:19, AT).

The Evil One refers to Satan[170] (cf. Mk 4:15; UBS, 415; cf. Mt 5:37, 6:13).[171] And, it’s interesting that, in Jewish literature, birds often symbolized demonic forces.[172]

As it’s been said, those who have hardened themselves to the gospel message have “opened themselves to Satan’s control”.[173]

These are not people who simply do not understand, but those who are not willing to understand[174] – those who sin “defiantly” (cf. Num 15:30-31).[175]

Like unplowed seed is easy pickings for birds, such people are easy pickings for Beelzebul.  The hardened Pharisees and other Jewish leaders likely fall into this category.[176]

Matthew 13:20-21 Fairweather “Fans”

Second, in verses 20 and 21, Jesus describes fair-weather “fans”. He says: 20 As for what was sown on the rocky ground, this is the one who hears the message and quickly – with joy[177] – accepts it. 21 Yet such a person has no root in themselves, but is fleeting.[178] So when hardship[179] or persecution comes because of the message, that person quickly falls away [from the faith][180] (Mt 13:20-21, AT)

Notice how such people both accept the gospel quickly and fall away from the gospel quickly.[181] They have no root. And those living in a society based on farming knew the importance of roots.[182]

"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

"Good Seed. Good Ground?" | Matthew 13:1-23 Sermon

You see, people can get excited over something and not know what it really means. They hear and accept the message but do not truly understand it[183] (cf. Php 1:9-11; Tit 1:1-3). They fall away because they lack deep conviction.[184]

Many in the crowds followed Christ not because of commitment, but because of excitement.[185]

In the gospels, the crowds are often amazed by His miracles and astounded by His teaching.[186] But, they often do not become fruitful followers. Sometimes, they might just want dinner and a show!

In John 6:26, after Jesus feeds the five thousand, and He sees the crowds still following Him, He says:

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (Jn 6:26, NIV).

They weren’t true fans, because when Jesus later proclaims some hard teaching, they fall away (cf. Jn 6:60, 66).

Similarly, sometimes we attend events and services because they got food.

One of my favorite Alpha ministries is the Hospitality Ministry. They’ve been feeding me good Alpha chicken for about three decades. And I know that when they take a break for a month in the summer, Bible Study attendance mysteriously goes down…

Moreover, many may be enthusiastic at first because of an external stimulus instead of an internal commitment.[187] Then, when that stimulus goes away, they too fall away.[188]

People may have a purely emotional response, without any intellectual root.[189]

Some might get a warm fuzzy feeling during a gospel song. They might feel like giving their life to Christ right on the spot. But what happens when the song is over?

We’ve seen time and time again, people come up the aisle one Sunday, never to be seen again. True discipleship is not about mere profession, but about perseverance[190] – even through persecution.

According to Scripture, to followers of Christ, hardship and persecution will come. The question is, will we still be followers of Christ, when they leave?

At the end of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus says:

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:10-12, NIV).[191]

If we suffer because of godliness, guess what? We’re in good company! In John 15:18 Jesus says:

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (Jn 15:18, NIV).

We shouldn’t be surprised when the world hates Christians since the world first hated Christ. We are to spread the message of Christ, and people will try to shoot the messenger!

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus says:

22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Mt 10:22, NIV;[192] cf. Mt 10:28, 34-36; 11:18-19, 23:34-36;[193] cf. 2 Tim 3:12, Jn 15:20; 16:33, etc.).

Christ’s true followers will persevere to the end.[194] But many will show themselves to be fair-weather “fans”.

For Christ tells His disciples in Matthew 24:9-11: 9

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Mt 24:9-11, NIV).[195]

Do you know a surefire way to find out how good tea is? Put it in hot water.

If God metaphorically puts us in some hot water, will we taste like the real thing?

Many of us know from experience that you find out who your true friends are when times get tough. People may be all about Jesus when things are going well, but what about when things go downhill?

A couple of years ago, when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, didn’t it seem like everyone was a fan? People that didn’t even follow football were rocking Eagles green.

You see, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon when things are going well. But what happens when things go downhill? As quickly as people jump on the bandwagon, they quickly jump right off.

This is why we must be firmly rooted in God’s word! Without strong roots, we can be easily blown here and there by false teaching (cf. Eph 4:14) or fall away when times get tough.

Matthew 13:22 Backburner “Believers”

Third, in verse 22, Jesus describes backburner “believers”. He says: As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the message, and the concerns of daily life[196] and the deceitfulness[197] of wealth choke the message – and it becomes unfruitful (Mt 13:22, AT).

Deceitfulness (ἀπάτη | apatē): can also be translated as enticement or seduction.[198] Wealth (πλοῦτος | ploutos), here, refers to one’s earthly possessions.[199]

And the love of wealth and possessions can be deceiving (Pr 11:28; 23:4-5).[200] Many people have been led astray and have done all kinds of ungodly things for money.

We know that 1 Tim 6:10 says:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim 6:10, NIV;[201] also see 1 Tim 6:9[202]).

And earlier, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus says:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Mt 6:24, NIV;[203] cf. Mt 6:25-34).[204]

We should be more concerned with heavenly treasures than worldly treasures (cf. Mt 6:19-21).[205]

Backburner “believers” are so concerned about the affairs of daily life and/or so seduced by worldly wealth, that they don’t give the gospel message a chance to bear fruit in their lives.[206]

They’re so earthly-minded, they’re of no heavenly-good. Let’s not let our goals become our gods.

Does Jesus – the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, the One Who died for our sins – does Jesus deserve to be an afterthought?

Does Christ deserve to be someone we have to pencil in to our schedules? We sing “O How I love Jesus, because He first loved me”, but why do we put Him second?

Just like the seed sown among thorns has to compete with the thorn plants for sunlight and nourishment, we often allow secular concerns compete with our spiritual growth.

If we’re not careful, these earthly endeavors can choke our faithful following.

And just like thorn plants, some of these concerns can’t just be cut down, since they’ll grow right back. They need completely uprooted.

Peter and the others left everything for Christ:

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! …”(Mt 19:27a, NIV; cf. Mt 4:20, 23, 9:9).[207]

Are there things in our lives that we put before Christ? There’s only 24 hours in a day, and we only have so much attention to give. How much attention do we pay to Christ?[208] How much attention do we pay to entertainers?

According to the New York Times, survey data in 2016 suggests that American adults watch about 4.5 hours of TV per day.[209]

The same survey suggests that the daily average amount of time Americans spend consuming various media – on TV’s, computers, phones, radios, etc. – was 10 hours and 39 minutes.[210]

It seems like America is addicted to entertainment; perhaps this is why we worship entertainers. We can’t let secular entertainment come before spiritual attainment.

Some of us check social media as soon as we wake up. Some of us turn the TV on as soon as we get home. Let’s be honest, some of us might even have the TV on right now!

During Thursday night virtual prayer meetings, sometimes we hear TV’s or radios on in the background. During these times of social distancing, I think we’ve all forgotten to press “Mute” once or twice.

But we can’t let other things compete with our loyalty[211] to Christ.

Do we watch more about the president than the Prince of Peace? Are we more concerned with elections than with being God’s elect?

Can we quote sports stats better than the Savior’s Scriptures? Do we follow fashion more than the Father? Are we more concerned with our job than with our calling?

Do we put Jesus on the backburner?

Earlier, in Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about the concerns of daily life (like what to eat, what to drink, and what to wear (Mt 6:31-32)),

“33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt 6:33, NIV;[212] cf. Mt 6:19-21, 24).[213]

If we’re following Christ, Christ comes first! He should be our first priority![214]

Backburner “believers” who let worldly worries and worldly wealth[215] choke the seed of the gospel are unfruitful. They do not allow the message to bear fruit – that is godly works of obedience[216] – in their lives.

Such works cannot save us (cf. Eph 2:8-9), but they are the necessary manifestation of a heart that has truly been saved (cf. Jas 2:14-26)[217] and committed to Christ (cf. Jn 15:5-6).[218]

Matthew 13:23 Fruiful Followers

Finally, in Matthew 13:23, Jesus describes fruitful followers: As for what was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears and understands the word, who indeed bears fruit and brings forth which is some hundred, some sixty, some thirty(fold) (Mt 13:23, AT).

Good soil – good ground – refers to people who hear and understand the message[219] and are continually willing to understand.[220] Receptivity is the key.[221]

As we know, people have different gifts and different circumstances. And as we see, insiders have different levels of productivity.[222] But all insiders produce fruit (continually)[223] as God’s blessed harvest.[224]

All fruitful followers are good soil.[225]

As it’s been said, fruit is “the practical outworking of a commitment to God’s service”[226] (cf. 1 Jn 3:9; Gal 5:22-23; Col 1:10; cp. Rom 1:13).[227]

Continual obedience to God’s will[228] is the mark of a genuine follower of Christ – an insider of the Kingdom[229] (cf. Mt 7:21-22).[230]

Orange trees bear oranges; apple trees bear apples. Similarly, people with godly roots will produce godly fruits.

In contrast, those with ungodly roots can be recognized by their ungodly fruits (Mt 7:16-20; cf. Mt 12:33; 21:19, 34, 41, 43).[231]

Earlier in Matthew 3:8, 10 John the Baptist warns:

8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Mt 3:8, 10, NIV).[232]

It’s not my message; I’m just the messenger.


In conclusion, parables produce a mixed bag of responses. They can bring enlightenment or confusion depending on the type of soil.[233]

And they compel people to make a decision.[234] As we’ve said before, there is no neutrality[235] (cf. Mt 12:30).[236]

You’re either inside Christ’s Kingdom, or you’re outside Christ’s Kingdom.[237] Insiders receive insider information; outsiders do not.

As we strive to follow Jesus and spread the Good Seed of the Good News (cf. Mt 10:5-15, 10:16-42, 28:16-20),[238] we can’t be naïve: many will not respond positively to the Gospel.[239]

They will reject Christ and thus they will be rejected.[240] Jesus lists three reasons:

  1. First, hard-hearted hearers, referring to the seed sown by the path, are unwilling to understand. Satan snatches the seed of the message of the Kingdom from their hearts.
  2. Second, fair-weather “fans”, referring to the seed sown on rocky ground, are initially enthusiastic but fickle and fleeting; when times get tough, they fall away since they have no root. They have a superficial,[241] shallow commitment.[242]
  3. Third, backburner “believers”, referring to the seed sown among thorns, are unfruitful because the daily concerns of life and lure of material wealth compete for their allegiance.

No matter which camp one is in, all three are useless.[243]

In contrast, fruitful followers, referring to the seed sown on good soil, bear fruit 100, 60, and 30 times what was sown.

Such people continually produce fruit – godly actions that manifest their commitment to Christ.

Correlation to the Shema (Dt 6:5)?[244]2[245]

Though these are likely not the only four options,[246] which camp best describes us?[247]

Hard-hearted hearers, fair-weather fans, backburner “believers”, or fruitful followers?

It’s something we all have to honestly ask ourselves. Is the message bouncing off us like rubber? Is it sticking to us like glue?[248]

Is it growing in our lives? Is it being choked by everything else in our lives?

The Gospel is always good seed.[249] The question is, with God’s help, will we be good ground?


Now, I would feel like a bad messenger if I didn’t tell you that you should get The Vaccine from the Great Physician. For the sacrificial blood of Jesus is the only vaccine for the consequences of sin (cf. Jn 3:16, 3:36, 5:22-24, 8:24, 14:6, Ac 4:12, etc.).

The Gospel is the best news in the world: Christ died for our sins – paying the penalty that we deserved – and allowed us to be reconciled to God the Father.

If we put our faith (i.e., our active trust) in His saving sacrifice on the cross, and are continually committed to Christ the Resurrected King, we will be saved. And we will serve and worship the King in Heaven, forever.

We can be insiders in His Kingdom; we can be members of His family. Don’t stay on the outside looking in!

Join us as we strive to imperfectly give our lives to the One who gave His life for us – and was raised again. Help us as we strive to be fruitful and productive for the Lord.

If you have questions and seek more understanding, that’s a good sign! That likely means your heart is not hardened to the gospel. Feel free to contact us at 609-877-6500, or on the Alpha Facebook Page, or the Church website.

We’re also on Instagram and Twitter @AlphaBCNJ. Please reach out to us. You’re not alone! Let’s do this together.

Now may the LORD bless you and keep you, may the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you, may the LORD turn His face toward you, and give you peace. (Num 6:24-26). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bibliography & Footnotes

  • Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • Brown, Jeannine in Burge, Gary M., and Andrew E. Hill, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–.
  • Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. [Blomberg]
  • Blomberg, Craig L. “Matthew.” In Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1–100. Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos, 2007.
  • Carson, D. A. “Matthew.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), edited by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, Vol. 9. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
  • Davies, W. D., and Dale C. Allison Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Vol. 2. International Critical Commentary. London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004.
  • Evans, Craig A. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck. First Edition. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2003.
  • France, R. T. Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 1. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
  • France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007. [France NICNT]
  • France, Richard T. “Matthew.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 904–45. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
  • Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
  • Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 1–13. Vol. 33A. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1993.
  • Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI;  Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009. [Keener]
  • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2014.
  • Keener, Craig S. Matthew. Vol. 1. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. [Keener IVP]
  • Keener, Craig S. BI103 Principles of Bible Interpretation. Logos Mobile Education. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.
  • Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.
  • Luz, Ulrich. Matthew: A Commentary. Edited by Helmut Koester. Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001.
  • Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992.
  • Mounce, Robert H. Matthew. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.
  • Newman, Barclay Moon, and Philip C. Stine. A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1992.
  • Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005.
  • Osborne, Grant R. Matthew. Vol. 1. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
  • Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.
  • Turner, David, and Darrell L. Bock. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
  • Turner, David L. Matthew. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008. [Turner]
  • Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
  • Wilkins, Michael in Arnold, Clinton E. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. [Wilkins]
  • Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004. [NIVAC]

[1] Cf. NIVAC, 491

[2] NIVAC, 502

[3] “Matt. 13:3–53 interprets the mixed response to the kingdom message and indicates that such a response will continue until judgment day (13:23, 30, 40–43, 49–50).” Turner, 335

[4] Turner, 334; NIVAC, 472

[5] Green, 152

[6] Matthew customarily opts for Kingdom of Heaven instead of Kingdom of God (Evans, 263)

[7] France NICNT, 499; Osborne, 497; Brown, 978

[8] France NICNT, 499

[9] Turner, 335

[10] France NICNT, 499 ; Nolland, 522 ; Turner, 335

[11] Keener IVP, 78

[12] NIVAC, 472

[13] France, NICNT, 499

[14] France NICNT, 503; Morris, 345

[15] France NICNT, 503; Osborne, 498 ; Turner, 337

[16] Turner, 337

[17] Cf. Blomberg, 213 ; Turner, 337

[18] NIVAC, 472

[19] France NICNT, 501; Osborne, 501

[20] Osborne, 505

[21] France NICNT, 501

[22] France NICNT, 501

[23] Nolland, 523; Morris, 335

[24] France NICNT, 501

[25] Osborne, 506; Keener, 375; Blomberg, 213; NIVAC, 472

[26] France NICNT, 501; Osborne, 505; Mounce, 125; Morris, 335

[27] Wilkins, 82

[28] Turner, 337

[29] NIVAC, 472

[30] NIDNTTE, 608; Morris, 333; Turner, 333

[31] NIDNTTE, 608; cf. Green, 152

[32] NIDNTTE, 608; cf. Green, 152

[33] Green, 152

[34] France NICNT, 502; cf. Blomberg, 212; Turner, 337; NIVAC, 473

[35] Osborne, 508; Wilkins, 83; Morris, 333; Turner, 337; NIVAC, 473; cf. Blomberg, 212. “and Jesus will often continue to address his critics with more straightforward language ([Mt 15:3–7; 16:2–4; 19:4–9, 17–22]; and much of chaps. 21–23)(Blomberg, 212)

[36] France NICNT, 502; Wilkins, 83 ; Morris, 335

[37] France NICNT, 502

[38] France NICNT, 502

[39] France NICNT, 502

[40] France NICNT, 502 cf. Osborne, 506; Wilkins, 83; Keener, 371; Green, 152; Mounce, 125; Blomberg, 213; NIVAC, 473; cf. 1 Sam 10:12; Num 23:7, 18; Ezek 17:2, 21:5, 24:3; Turner, 337

[41] France NICNT, 502

[42] France NICNT, 502

[43] France NICNT, 502

[44] France NICNT, 502; NIVAC, 496

[45] Green, 152; cf. Mounce, 128; NIVAC, 477; Hagner, 376; Carson, 353

[46] Hagner, 376

[47] Blomberg, 212

[48] T. F. Torrance, “A Study in New Testament Communication,” SJT 3 (1950): 304–5 as quoted by Blomberg, 213 and Green, 154

[49] Keener IVP, 179

[50] France NICNT, 504; Wilkins, 83

[51] France NICNT, 504; Wilkins, 83; NIVAC, 474

[52] Wilkins, 83; NIVAC, 474

[53] UBS, 402; Osborne, 506; Keener IVP, 79

[54] Osborne, 506

[55] France NICNT, 504; Wilkins, 83

[56] Mounce, 125

[57] France NICNT, 504

[58] Osborne, 506; Wilkins, 83; Nolland, 526; Morris, 335; cf. Turner, 338

[59] Morris, 336; NIVAC, 474

[60] France NICNT, 504; Wilkins, 84; Keener IVP, 79

[61] Osborne, 507; Mounce, 125

[62] Turner, 338

[63] Osborne, 507; Nolland, 526; Turner, 338

[64] Osborne, 507; Morris, 337 ; Turner, 338

[65] Turner, 338 ; NIVAC, 474

[66] France NICNT, 504

[67] Osborne, 507

[68] Nolland, 527

[69] Osborne, 507

[70] UBS, 404

[71] Osborne, 507

[72] Keener IVP, 79; Silybum marianum: Keener, 377

[73] Keener, 377

[74] France NICNT, 505; cf. Morris, 337 ; NIVAC, 475

[75] France NICNT, 505 cf. Osborne, 507

[76] France NICNT, 505; Blomberg, 214

[77] Blomberg, 214

[78] France NICNT, 505

[79] Morris, 345

[80] France NICNT, 505

[81] France NICNT, 505 cf. Osborne, 507; Keener, 377

[82] Osborne, 507; Wilkins, 84; Keener IVP, 79; Mounce, 126; Nolland, 529; Morris, 337; NIVAC, 475

[83] Osborne, 508; Keener, 377

[84] Wallace, 485-6; Osborne, 508

[85] NIVAC, 476

[86] Osborne, 508; NIVAC, 497

[87] France NICNT, 510 cf. Osborne, 508

[88] Keener, 378

[89] UBS, 406; France NICNT, 510

[90] France NICNT, 510

[91] “The parable of the sower and soils in many ways is a parable about the parables” (NIVAC, 501)

[92] Emphatic in the Greek (Morris, 339)

[93] Mysteries (μυστήριον | mystērion) = “the secret thoughts, plans… of God” (BDAG, 662); God’s “revelation” (i.e., apocalypse) (NIDNTTE, 353-4 cf. Osborne, 509). God gives Daniel revelations of God’s mystery/secret through visions: “19 During the night the mystery [LXX: mystērion] was revealed to Daniel in a vision.” (Dan 2:19, NIV cf. 27-30, 47; Aramaic raz; France NICNT, 511; Osborne, 509; Wilkins, 84; cf. Dn 2:28, 4:9; Blomberg, 215; cf. Nolland, 533; cf. Job 15:8, Ps 25:14; Pr 3:32; Amos 3:7; NIVAC, 476)

[94] UBS, 407; France NICNT, 511; Osborne, 508

[95] Evans, 263

[96] Morris, 339; Blomberg, 216; Turner, 339

[97] Turner, 334; cf. Carson, 356

[98] EDNT, 447-448

[99] EDNT, 447-448

[100] Cf. Morris, 340

[101] EDNT, 447-448; cf. Morris, 340

[102] France NICNT, 510-11; Osborne, 509

[103] Evans, 263

[104] France NICNT, 511; Osborne, 508; Nolland, 533; Turner, 339; Carson, 353

[105] Keener, 379; cf. Nolland, 533; Turner, 340

[106] Keener, 379; Green, 154; Morris, 339

[107] Another divine passive (UBS, 408)

[108] (περισσεύω | perisseuō): “exceed, be present in superabundance, prove to be extremely rich, have a superabundance” (EDNT, 76)

[109] Nolland, 534; Morris, 340; Turner, 339

[110] Green, 153; cf. NIVAC, 495

[111] Green, 153

[112] Green, 153

[113] Cf. Green, 153; Morris, 340

[114] Osborne, 509

[115] Cf. NIVAC, 479

[116] France NICNT, 512; Osborne, 509; Mounce, 127

[117] Hagner, 372; cf. France NICNT, 512; Mounce, 127

[118] “Mark says ‘in order that’ (hina) the outsiders not see and hear; Matthew says ‘because’ (hoti) they will not see. (Evans, 263; cf. Mounce, 127; Turner, 340; NIVAC, 477)

[119] Osborne, 510-11; Keener, 380; cf. Turner, 339

[120] France NICNT, 513

[121] Mounce, 127

[122] NIVAC, 495

[123] Nolland, 535; Carson, 353

[124] The LXX predicts the people’s stubbornness while the Hebrew text seems to suggest that Isaiah’s ministry will cause it: Evans, 263

[125] France NICNT, 515; Blomberg, 216; Turner, 339; NIVAC, 477

[126] Fulfill = “come to completion” Osborne, 511

[127]  NIDNTTE, 622; UBS, 411

[128] Morris, 343; Carson, 360

[129] BDAG, 167; EDNT, 198 cf. LN, 385; cf. Nolland, 536

[130] BDAG, 167

[131] EDNT, 198

[132] “(1) The parables test the heart of the listener. They act as a spiritual examination, prompting a response from the listener that will indicate whether the person’s heart is open to Jesus’ message or is hardened. If the latter, the parable will stimulate confusion or outright rejection and prompt the listener to turn away from Jesus and the truth (13:11–15). But if a person’s heart is open to Jesus’ message, he or she will come to Jesus for further clarification about its meaning, as the disciples do (13:10). Jesus’ revelation of truth and the disciples’ obedient receptivity is the required distinction in understanding and not understanding.” NIVAC, 478-479

[133] UBS, 412; Evans, 263; Morris, 338, 342

[134] Morris, 342; cf. NIVAC, 495

[135] France NICNT, 515

[136] Turner, 340; Carson, 356

[137] Blomberg, 217; Morris, 338; Turner, 339

[138] Osborne, 510; Blomberg, 216; NIVAC, 477

[139] UBS, 412; Nolland, 536: “Matthew does not use ἐπιστρέφειν (‘turn’) as a technical term for repentance, but repentance is in view (see at 3:2).” (Nolland, 536)

[140] BDAG, 465. Here, heal (iaomai | heal) refers to spiritual rather than physical healing (UBS, 412). Christ’s physical healings confirmed spiritual healings (Keener, 380; cf. Mk 2:10)

[141] Morris, 343

[142] France NICNT, 515; Nolland, 537

[143] Osborne, 511; Blomberg, 217

[144] NIVAC, 478

[145] Osborne, 510

[146] Keener, 380

[147] Blomberg, 217

[148] NIVAC, 477

[149] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

[150] Turner, 340; NIVAC, 478

[151] Blessed (μακάριος | makarios): “blessed, fortunate, happy” (NIDNTTE, 206).  “God has been very good to you” or “God has blessed you” (UBS, 413)

[152] Your is in an emphatic position.  In contrast to the others, the disciples’ eyes (really) see and ears (really) hear (UBS, 413; France NICNT, 515; Osborne, 512; Morris, 343)

[153] Nolland, 537

[154] NIVAC, 478 ; Carson, 358

[155] Carson, 358

[156] France NICNT, 515; Nolland, 537; Morris, 344

[157] Osborne, 512; NIVAC, 478

[158] France NICNT, 515; Osborne, 512; cf. Mounce, 128; Turner, 340

[159] Mounce, 128; cf. Blomberg, 217; Turner, 340

[160] Turner, 340

[161] France NICNT, 515; Osborne, 512

[162] cf. France NICNT, 519; Osborne, 512

[163] Morris, 344

[164] You is in an emphatic position (UBS, 414; Mounce, 129)

[165] Keener, 379

[166] Cf. Green, 155

[167] France NICNT, 519; Osborne, 513 ; Morris, 335; NIVAC, 479

[168] France NICNT, 519 ; Carson, 356

[169] Turner, 341; NIVAC, 479

[170] Mounce, 138; Turner, 341

[171] Osborne, 513

[172] Osborne, 513; Wilkins, 85

[173] Osborne, 513; cf. Hagner, 379; Turner, 342

[174] UBS, 415; Osborne, 513

[175] Osborne, 513

[176] Osborne, 498

[177] Joy (χαρά | chara) is in an emphatic position (UBS, 416-417).

[178] Fleeting (πρόσκαιρος | proskairos): “Temporary, transitory, passing” (NIDNTTE, 586); “lasting only a time, momentary” (EDNT, 171);  “no staying-power” (UBS, 417)

[179] Hardship (θλῖψις | thlipsis) refers to “difficulties in general” (UBS, 417 cf. EDNT, 152; France NICNT, 520)

[180] Fall away (σκανδαλίζω | skandalizō): to be led astray, to be made to stumble (NIDNTTE, 296) to fall away from the faith (NIDNTTE, 297; EDNT, 248; Osborne, 514).


[181]  EDNT, 171; similar wording in Gk. (εὐθύς) Osborne, 513; Morris, 346

[182] Osborne, 514

[183] France NICNT, 520

[184] EDNT, 171

[185] Osborne, 514

[186] cf. Osborne, 514

[187] France NICNT, 520

[188] France NICNT, 520

[189] Turner, 342

[190] Blomberg, 214

[191] France NICNT, 520; Osborne, 514 ; NIVAC, 480 ; Carson, 358

[192] France NICNT, 520 ; NIVAC, 480

[193] Osborne, 514

[194] Blomberg, 214

[195] cf. EDNT, 248; UBS, 417; France NICNT, 520; Osborne, 514; Turner, 341

[196] Concerns (μέριμνα | merimna): lit. “worry of the age” (cf. Mt 6:25-34; France NICNT, 524; Osborne, 514)

[197] “The noun behind “deceitfulness” (apate) can be used to express both “pleasure” (2 Peter 2:13) and “deception” (Col. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:10), which may be combined here to warn how wealth can be a deceptive pleasure (cf. Paul’s warning in 1 Tim. 6:9” (NIVAC, 481)

[198] EDNT, 117; Osborne, 514

[199] NIDNTTE, 799

[200] France NICNT, 521

[201] Hagner, 381

[202] NIVAC, 480; Hagner, 381

[203] Hagner, 381

[204] France NICNT, 524; Osborne, 514; Blomberg, 218 ; Nolland, 541; Turner, 341; NIVAC, 481

[205] France NICNT, 521 ; Nolland, 541; Turner, 341; NIVAC, 481

[206] UBS, 418 ; Mounce, 129

[207] France NICNT, 521

[208] Cf. Morris, 347

[209] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/business/media/nielsen-survey-media-viewing.html

[210] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/business/media/nielsen-survey-media-viewing.html

[211] Cf. Nolland, 539

[212] cf. EDNT, 115, NIDNTTE, 799

[213] France NICNT, 521.

[214] Cf. Osborne, 514 ; Keener, 384

[215] NIVAC, 480

[216] Blomberg, 218; Turner, 341

[217] Osborne, 514

[218] Osborne, 514

[219]  France NICNT, 522; Mounce, 129; Morris, 347

[220] Osborne, 515

[221] Hagner, 381

[222] France NICNT, 523; Morris, 347

[223] Osborne, 515

[224] NIVAC, 481

[225] Carson, 361

[226] France NICNT, 522; cf. Nolland, 542

[227] NIVAC, 481

[228] Blomberg, 218; cf. Turner, 341

[229] France NICNT, 522

[230] Keener, 381; Turner, 342

[231] France NICNT, 522; cf. Blomberg, 214 ; Turner, 341

[232] France NICNT, 522 ; Turner, 341

[233] Brown, 978 cf. France NICNT, 499; Green, 156

[234] Osborne, 504; Green, 153; NIVAC, 476

[235] Evans, 263

[236] NIVAC, 477

[237] Osborne, 499

[238] NIVAC, 501

[239] France NICNT, 499 ; NIVAC, 502

[240] Osborne, 515; “It is also clear that those whom God sovereignly rejects are those who willfully reject God.” (Turner, 340)

[241] NIVAC, 480

[242] Keener, 384

[243] Keener, 381

[244] Nolland, 540

[245] Nolland, 541-542

[246] Morris, 345

[247] Cf. Green, 156

[248] Green, 155

[249] NIVAC, 479


  1. lyrics from “Always And Forever” by Heatwave
  2. “The third demand of the Shema is to love God with one’s whole mʾd/δυνάμις (‘strength’). But in part of the Gospel tradition (Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27) the threefold demand has become a fourfold demand, with ‘mind’ (διάνοια) and ‘strength’ (ἰσχύς) in third and fourth positions (in either order). This reverts to three in Mt. 22:37, but with ‘mind’ rather than ‘strength’ as found in Dt. 6:5. Since in rabbinic discussion loving God with one’s strength was related to the use of wealth and since the worry and desire that Matthew speaks about in 13:22 relate to the state of one’s mind, there could well be a link with the third element of the Shema, whether in the traditional form using ‘strength’ or the Gospel form using ‘mind’.”
About @DannyScottonJr 455 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝?⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist