THE HEART THAT DESERVES THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Key Verse: 13:8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a
crop a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
1. Where was Jesus preaching? Why? What was his teaching device? (3a)
What is the common theme of the parables?
2. Read the first parable in verses 3-9. What do the farmer and seed
represent? What are the 4 kinds of soil on which the seed falls?
What happens to the seed that falls in each kind of soil?
3. What does it mean to have a heart like the path? (4) What might make
one become like this? What does it mean to be like rocky soil?
(5-6) Like thorny soil? (7)
4. How are the good-soil people different from the others? (8) What can
we learn about God's purpose in creating mankind? About what pleases
him? About our attitude toward God's word? How can we have good
5. Read verses 10-13. What did the disciples ask Jesus? Why? How did he
respond? What did he mean? Read verses 14-17. How was Isaiah's
prophecy fulfiloled? What does Jesus teach abaout God's work and
In chapter 13 Jesus teaches his disciples with parables. A parable
is different from an allegory. An allegory has inclusive meaning in
itself. But a parable is a simple and short story with one clear point.
The synoptic gospels include 30 of these parables, which Jesus drew
from nature and human life. In chapter 13 Jesus tells six parables to
explain how we can obtain the kingdom of God. The words the kingdom of
heaven, or the kingdom, are repeated 12 times in this chapter
(11,19,24,31,33,38, 41,43,44,45,47,52). We must know that Matthew's
Gospel focuses on Jesus kingship and his kingdom. From the beginning to
the end, Jesus' heart's desire was to teach the secret of the kingdom
of God. This passage tells us how we can be qualified to enter the
kingdom of God.
First, the attitude of hearing the word (1-9; 18-23). Until now Jesus
was allowed to preach in the synagogues. But now Jesus could not preach
in the synagogues because large crowds of people began to gather around
him, so Jesus preached by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around
him, clinging to him, until he could not deliver the word. So he got
into a boat. And all the people stood on the shore. Then Jesus told
them many things in parables (1,2).
Look at verses 3-9. Then he told them many things in parables,
saying: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the
seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some
fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up
quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the
plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other
seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still
other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop a hundred, sixty
or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear. Jesus
teaches that people respond in four different ways to the message of
A path. The first kind of response is the people who are like a path.
Look at verse 4. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the
path, and the birds came and ate it up. There are many people whose
minds have become like a path, and the word has no chance to get in.
There are several things which make people's minds like a path.
Common sense can make a man's mind like a path. One university
professor taught English history. But he was interested in reading
magazines of all kinds and watched many movies about history. He had
never been to England even though he taught English history at a
university. He knew many things, but he was filled up with common
sense. He did not steadily research English history. So he could not
publish any books as school textbooks, and his income was very low
until he retired. He thought he knew everything. But in fact, he could
not write even one textbook.
There was a high-minded church pastor. After reading the Bible ten
times, he thought he was the best Bible scholar. But his church did not
grow, while a junior pastor's church grew and grew until its membership
was over 5,000. The junior pastor's church grew simply because he
humbled himself and prayerfully studied the Bible for 25 years. Then
the senior pastor, whose heart was like a path due to his proud mind,
began to undercut the junior pastor, saying he was gathering people to
his church through magic arts. People whose minds are like a path are
generally men and women of common sense.
The Pharisees read the word of God diligently. But they did not hear
the word from their hearts, only from their heads. They were a
path-like people. They did not study the Bible to renovate their head
knowledge. They did not study the Bible from their hearts for spiritual
satisfaction. So their minds were arrogant and their hearts were as
hard as asphalt on a highway. To them, the knowledge of the Bible was
no more than common sense. God chose them as Bible teachers. But the
Pharisees' heart soil became like a path because they studied the Bible
superficially, in order to increase their common sense of the Bible.
Because of their poor attitude toward Bible study they could not
understand the secret of the kingdom of God. Rather they became the
prey of the devil (19).
Pride also makes a man's mind like a path. One night a servant of
God appealed to a young man who was enslaved by lustful desires to
beware of the temptations of women and money if he wanted to be a great
servant of God. The conversation continued for three hours. Finally the
young man said, Are you telling this to me? His shepherd's counseling
was based on God's word. But his proud mind rejected it.
Lustful desire also makes a man's mind like a path. One young man
studied the Bible for four years. Yet he could not accept even one word
because he did not pay attention to the word of God but to girls only.
As a result, he did not finish his school studies, nor did he
understand the word concerning the kingdom of God. Fatalistic people
are a path-like people, too. One young man's mother divorced his
father, simply because of his father's low intellectual level. Then
this only son was fatally wounded. He ate only raw meat of all kinds.
Whenever we saw him, he was walking around with bare feet. He did not
talk. But he met Jesus and was very much healed by the love of Jesus.
He could even marry. Still, a path-like element of fatalism remained in
his heart. He was very fatalistic about having a child. So he never
slept with his wife and died.
Rocky ground. The second kind of response is the people whose minds
are like rocky ground. Look at verses 5 and 6. Some fell on rocky
places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because
the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were
scorched, and they withered because they had no root. These are very
low-level kinds of people. So they are amply emotional. They quickly
become enthusiastic about what they heard, but they soon become
double-minded when they are emotionally upset. Emotional people cannot
take root in the word, for the life of faith demands intellect, will,
heart and spirit in addition to emotion. There was a young man who had
been loved and cared for by his shepherd. But he became emotional when
he was encouraged to work hard and be independent. Then the young man
turned against his shepherd. He began to watch his shepherd carefully
to see if he would make a mistake. One Sunday his shepherd made a
literal mistake while emphasizing to work hard for the glory of God.
The young man forgot all his shepherd's love and care. He began to
criticize his shepherd saying, He is a liar, not a shepherd, and left
the church. Emotional people are unpredictable. They are like chaff
blown by the wind. As long as one lives with emotional feelings he will
not inherit the kingdom of God. At the time of adversity, emotional
people turn out to be enemies of God, like Judas Iscariot. Emotional
people cannot see the kingdom of God.
Thorny ground. The third kind of response is people whose minds are
like thorny ground. Look at verse 7. Other seed fell among thorns,
which grew up and choked the plants. Those who are like thorny soil
have unusually rich soil; they are able to do great things. They can
produce unusually abundant fruit, high income and many achievements.
But they worry too much day and night, until they have no time left to
let the word grow in the soil of their hearts. The more they worry, the
more thorns and thistles grow in their hearts. Because of thorns and
thistles in their hearts, they cannot see the kingdom of God. For many
months we have seen the dogs and cats barking and hissing. They are top
leaders of this nation and very wealthy men. But they worry not to be
eaten by their opponents. They are eating in the thorny ground. They
are working in the thorny ground. They are sleeping in the thorny
ground. They are top leaders of this country. But their misery has been
beyond measure. Many are afraid that one or two of them will hang
themselves, because of their misery. There is true happiness for them
in the kingdom of God. But they cannot see the kingdom of God because
of their thorny ground.
Good soil. The fourth kind of response is the people whose minds are
like good soil. Look at verse 8. Still other seed fell on good soil,
where it produced a crop a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was
sown. Those who have hearts of good soil can understand the secret of
the kingdom of God. Here the good soil is the same as a good heart.
The word of Jesus reads so beautifully and is so sweet to hear. But it
is the hardest spiritual struggle to keep one's heart as good soil. The
good-soil kind of heart is not given. The good-soil kind of heart is
possible for anyone who struggles to keep his heart as good soil.
Good plants are generally weak to ever-increasing weeds and the
rapidly growing thornbush. Therefore anybody who wants to be good soil
must not be overpowered by weeds and thornbushes. It is easy to make
our hearts wicked and dishonest. But it is not easy to keep our hearts
pure and genuine. We sometimes wonder why God gave us two eyes, two
ears and two hands, but only one heart. How nice it would be if God
gave us two hearts, so that we could keep one heart clean and with the
other do some things our sinful desire directs. But God gave us one
heart so that we can love God only and we can each be faithful to only
In the parable of the sower, we learn of God in three ways.
First, God wants us to hear the word humbly and understand the secret
of the kingdom of God. This is the reason why the parable of the sower
was written. It is amazing that Jesus did not pound before the
thronging crowd of people. But he spoke to them a parable of the sower
with a gentle voice. It was a majestic and awesome voice which was
gentle and quiet. But the response of the people was indeed great.
Second, God wants us to be fruitful. God made men to bear much fruit
which is pleasing to God and can be a blessing to others (Jn 15:16).
God wants us to bear much fruit. We cannot bear fruit when we don t
know the secrets of the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who
know the secrets of the kingdom of God can bear fruit at least 30
times, 60 times or 100 times. Those who do not bear much fruit may have
many excuses. But their main problem is that they know a lot about the
word, but they do not know the secrets of the kingdom of God. They are
also lazy men who do not deserve to eat (2 Th 3:10).
Third, we also learn God's shepherd heart. The main point of the Bible
is the kingdom of God. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, The time has come. The
kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! Our God is
like a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the open country and goes after
the one lost sheep until he finds it (Lk 15:4). Our God wants to bring
each of us back to his glorious kingdom, missing no one. This is the
reason God sent his one and only Son to this world that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).
Second, Jesus spoke in parables (10-17). Jesus chose his twelve
disciples as servants of God's word for the future. Jesus wanted them
to grasp the secret of the kingdom of God and proclaim the kingdom of
God to the whole world. But at that time his disciples did not grasp
the concept of the kingdom of God. Look at verse 10. The disciples
came to him and asked, Why do you speak to the people in parables?
This question must have come out of their deep discouragement. Probably
they thought, What's the use of telling so many parables to those who
make evanescent responses? Why are you wasting your time?
What was Jesus' response to them? Look at verse 11. He replied, The
knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to
you, but not to them. Jesus was speaking the parable to ordinary
people. But in reality, Jesus was telling it to his disciples. This
verse explains that the disciples are greatly privileged to know the
secret of the kingdom of God, and to proclaim the kingdom of God to the
Look at verse 12. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have
an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken
from him. The secret of the kingdom of God is everything to all human
beings. Therefore, the proclamation of the kingdom of God is
absolutely necessary. But the disciples were not clear about their
mission, mainly because they were burdened by a sense of mission. Jesus
warned them so that they would not be shaky because of worldly
situations, but be faithful to their mission of proclaiming the kingdom
of God. As a student who studies hard is capable of acquiring deeper
knowledge and is given higher honors, so one who seeks God's kingdom
earnestly and proclaims it diligently is given more reward and
recognition by God Almighty.
Let's think about the meaning of Isaiah's prophecy. Jesus quoted
Isaiah's prophecy. Look at verses 13-15. This is why I speak to them
in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do
not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever
seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become
calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their
eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
This prophecy concerns God's shepherd heart toward rebellious
people. This prophecy also explains the principle of God's history.
Isaiah said in his prophecy that the people were too rebellious to
understand God's message. The people had no interest at all in hearing
God's message. They were only interested in things of the world. But
God encouraged Isaiah not to despair. As a result, Isaiah put his faith
in God Almighty. Then he realized that the purpose of God would be
fulfilled in the end, and that God never fails. Jesus said this to his
disciples so that they might not be discouraged because of rebellious
people, but proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God to the end. Jesus
said this to his disciples so that they might understand that God's
world salvation purpose will be fulfilled in the midst of rebellious
We give our hearts to God's work. However, sometimes the results
seem to be nothing but disappointment. But God accepts all our labor as
prayers and fulfills his ultimate purpose, weaving together success and
failure, good and evil in the plan of world salvation. Here we learn
that we must rejoice even when our work seems to be nothing but
failure. Here we learn that in doing God's work our faith in God
Almighty is most important (Jn 6:29). At that time, the disciples were
discouraged by worldly situations and the poor prospect of their
income. But Jesus encouraged them by saying, You have the privilege of
seeing the work of the Messiah with your own eyes, which many prophets
and righteous men of the past wanted to see but did not see (16,17).
Surely we are most blessed because through the word of God we can see
Jesus face to face and we can see the kingdom of God.
Third, Jesus explains the parable (18-23). Jesus sensed that his
disciples did not understand the point of the parable. So he told the
story again and explained it so they could grasp the happiness of the
kingdom of God and bear much fruit 30 times, 60 times, even 100 times.
In the parable of the sower we learn four kinds of people. The first
three kinds are humanistic people. The last kind is a three-dimensional
person. He knows God and people and the world. The first three kinds of
people seem to be smart and to be achieving something. But they are
struggling for nothing to the extreme measure. One professor at UIC
made his wife very sorry because of his physics study. But at the age
of 52 he got throat cancer and his future became very dark. Now he
wants to please his wife. But his springtime has gone and summertime
has gone and autumntime has gone and in his wintertime he wants to
please his wife, but they each feel they are now too cold to please
each other. He thought his idea to become a physicist was the best way
of life. But now the best he can do is to heal his cancer and live even
a few days more. He is a man like a path. People of the world think in
their common sense that if they make success they can be happy. But it
is not true. People of many countries want to come to America to live
happily, as in paradise. They come to America by any means. But they
find that America is also part of the real world, and that many big
people are blinking their eyes calculating how to make use of
newly-arrived immigrants. Suddenly they feel that America is not
paradise but a thornbush, and they regret that they tried hard to come
to a big thornbush with big people.
Jesus repeated the parable in this passage. We understood it in our
modern way. Now let's listen again as Jesus explains the parable of the
sower. I will read verses 18-23. Listen to what the parable of the
sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does
not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown
in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who
received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the
word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he
lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of
the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that
fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of
this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it
unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is
the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop,
yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
May God give you a good heart and much fruit and the kingdom of God.
May God bless America to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and
make America a blessing to all peoples of all nations.