Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Bread of Life, The Parable of the Sower/Four Soils, 1st Sunday After Pentecost
Volume 7 No. 420 June 9, 2017
 
II. Featured: Parable of The Sower

Luke 8:5-15 - Text
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. {6} And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. {7} And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. {8} And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
 
{9} And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
 
{10} And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
 
{11} Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. {12} Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. {13} They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. {14} And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. {15} But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
What is the meaning of the Parable of the Sower?
Answer:

The Parable of the Sower (also known as the Parable of the Four Soils) is found in Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:2-9; and Luke 8:4-8. After presenting this parable to the multitude, Jesus interprets it for His disciples in Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; and Luke 8:11-15.

The Parable of the Sower concerns a sower who scatters seed, which falls on four different types of ground. The hard ground "by the way side" prevents the seed from sprouting at all, and the seed becomes nothing more than bird food. The stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds to germinate and begin to grow, but because there is "no deepness of earth," the plants do not take root and are soon withered in the sun. The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns choke the life out of the beneficial plants. The good ground receives the seed and produces much fruit.

Jesus' explanation of the Parable of the Sower highlights four different responses to the gospel. The seed is "the word of the kingdom." The hard ground represents someone who is hardened by sin; he hears but does not understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away, keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word from making an impression. The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed, and when trouble arises, his so-called faith quickly disappears. The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts; the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word, and he ends up having no time for it. The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word - and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his life. The man represented by the "good ground" is the only one of the four who is truly saved, because salvation's proof is fruit (Matthew 3:7-8; 7:15-20).

To summarize the point of the Parable of the Sower: "A man's reception of God's Word is determined by the condition of his heart." A secondary lesson would be "Salvation is more than a superficial, albeit joyful, hearing of the gospel. Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it." May our faith and our lives exemplify the "good soil" in the Parable of the Sower.

Source: GotQuestions.org

Parable of the Sower

by Priest Seraphim Holland

Gospel: Luke 8:5-15

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today, we read the parable of the Sower, which is a very familiar parable, known even to people that are not Christians. Many of these parables are really part and parcel of our culture. People even use biblical terminology and don't even know that they are using it.

How do these parables affect us? There is an inner meaning and an outer meaning to these parables. Why did our Lord speak in parables? Why did He say things with a hidden meaning? The Fathers explain to us that when you look into something deeply and carefully, when it takes effort to look into it, then you develop more of an understanding. If something is handed to you and there is no effort involved in learning it, then you develop very little understanding.

We can see this principle even in secular life. Look at how young people can barely even read and write now, because of this television age that we are in. Information is given to them so freely it takes very little effort to find it out.

Also the parables are given because God does not those who are not worthy to be told things that they will be judged for. A man must do some investigation if he is to learn the deep meaning of these things, and God will judge us for what we know. God will also judge us for what we don't know, if we CHOOSE to not know things. God will judge us the same if we know something and don't do it or we choose to be ignorant in the ways of piety. If we are willfully ignorant, and this occurs whenever we do not try to seek out the knowledge of God's commandments and exercise them in our life, God will then judge us in the Judgment, even if we try to say we do not know something.

What is the inner and outer meaning of this parable? There is a lot of explanation given for this parable, even in the very text of scripture itself. It is very rare in scripture where our Lord actually explains the deeper meaning of some dark saying of His. The Apostles came to Him, and they must have also come to Him many other times, and they said, we don't understand this at all. He explained this to them, because it's meaning is so important.

"A sower went out to sow his seed".

Who is the sower? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Be careful when you read scripture - every word has meaning. The Sower went OUT to sow his seed". He did not go "out" from the farmhouse and start to work - this "going out" is the incarnation of the Son of God. The seed is the word of God, those words that He spoke.

As he sowed, some seed fell by various places, the wayside, the rock, among the thorns and on good ground. It "fell"; it was not thrown. It fell everywhere equally, and these places, are the souls of men. The preexisting one, Jesus Christ, thought it not robbery to be equal to us, and became a man. And He sowed his teaching to the entire universe, equally and freely to all men. It is available to everyone.

There are four kinds of men described in this parable, and, three of those kinds perished. All of humanity fits into one of these categories, and the majority will perish. This is true in our age, and has been true in every age. The majority of people will not inherit the Kingdom of God, because they are not the good ground. And yet our Lord and Savior still sows His seed, and still gives the opportunity to a man to accept Him and to follow His commandments.

Remember the story of the talents and the man with the one talent - our Lord knew that he was not going to use this talent. Remember what a talent is? It is the grace of God, which enables us to do good works, to obey His commandments, and to learn more of Him.

The man with the one talent is like the ground by the wayside. The fowls of the air immediately snatch away the word from his heart, and he never really believes at all. We have all known people like that, who really have no belief whatsoever. The wayside is hard, and packed down. No seed can penetrate into it, and it is washed away, or it sits there, prey for the birds of the air.

The birds are the demons, which snatch away the word from a man's heart, but only because a man leaves it out there, unprotected, and does not cherish it. The demons cannot take away the word from your heart if you hold it close to yourself, only if you care nothing for it.

So these men by the wayside, they have no part in salvation whatsoever, they never even bothered to believe.

Some of the seed fell upon the rock, and when it was spring up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. Have you every been to a glade? This is an area where there is a thin layer of soil over limestone bluffs, and only certain kinds of plants can grow. When there is a drought, everything dies, except for a few very hardy trees. There is a little bit of soil, a very small amount, but there is not enough soil to retain any moisture, which is the essence of Christ. There is just a small amount of knowledge, and not much struggle or desire, and at the merest, smallest trial, such a person falls away, and he perishes.

Some people are thorny ground. The thorns spring up with the good wheat, the word of God. These thorns choke out the following of the commandments. They choke out the knowledge of God, because we turn away from God, to our thorns, whatever they are, whether they are riches, cares of this world, sensual pleasures, our pride, our fear, ambition. There are hundreds of ways that a man can turn away from Christ, even though he appears to be a Christian.

Remember the parable about the wheat and the tares? These tares are the same as thorns. The tares are growing up right by the wheat, and except to a man who has extreme discretion and knowledge, and of course, the God-man, Jesus Christ, such people are sometimes indistinguishable to true Christians. They go to church, they have families, they may give alms, and they do everything externally just like everybody else, except they don't have any life within them. Where their treasure is, so their heart is, and their treasure is not Christ, so Christ is not with them. Those people who are amidst the thorns have not Christ, even though they would call themselves Christians.

Some of the seed, a small amount of the seed, fell on good ground. And it sprang up and bear fruit. St. Luke says a hundred fold, and St. Matthew also recounts this story and shows that the Lord gave other information. Some sprang up thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold, because not all the Saints are the same. Not everyone follows the word of God to the same degree, or the same amount.

I guess that is good news to me, because I don't at this moment think that I can become like the Saints. I shouldn't think this way, because God can change a man, if he only gives himself to Him. However, if none of us lives with the LOFTY righteousness of the Saints, God has a place for us in His mansion, since there are many rooms, if we make an effort to live according to His commandments.

I have said this many times before; success is not as important as your effort. If you make an effort, then in the end, paradoxically, you will be successful, because God will receive your repentance, and reward you, for some thirty, some sixty, some one hundred. May it be that we all receive a hundred fold. May we all be like the man who had five talents, and labored and increased it to ten, and then our Lord gave him an infinite amount of grace.

Now, how is it that we can be good ground? Isn't that really what we should try to learn from this parable? What is good ground? Good ground has been tilled carefully, and dug, and the clods of dirt have been broken up, and it has been finely sifted, and fertilizer has been added to it, and it has been watered, and hedged round about so that animals can not get in. It has been guarded, so no one can steal the fruits it will produce. There is effort involved in having good ground. It does not just "happen".

Last year, I tilled a part of my property in order to plant. I did not take care of it this year, and did not plant, and you can not even TELL that it was good ground, and it was VERY good ground after I had finished with it, but I didn't take care of it, and so, it reverted back.

The same thing will happen to us. If we do not take care of the seed that is planted within us, we will revert back to the type of man we previously were, and we will allow the tares to grow in us. They will choke us out. Even if there are not tares to begin with – the seeds of tares fly through the air, don't they? So do the demons. The tares can come into good ground at any time, and they constantly must be plucked out and uprooted with great care.

It is very painful to tear out many tares by the way, especially thorns and thistles, because they are sharp and they cut, and make us bleed. Regardless, we must do this work, and tear out these thorns and thistles if we are to be good ground, if indeed, we have EVEN begun to be good ground!

Our Savior says about those on the good ground, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

There are those words, that we have trouble with (I have trouble with them sometimes); "Having heard the word, KEEP it and bring forth fruit with PATIENCE." Patience is the most difficult word in our language. The Christian life is patience, endurance. He who endures to the end will be saved. We are just beginning you know. And if indeed there is some part of our soul that is good ground, let us make the rest of it good ground, by careful labor, by backbreaking labor. And, while we are cleaning out those parts of our souls, let us at the same time pay attention to the places we have cleared, so the tares do not come in, and choke us.

How are we to do this? This is a task beyond our abilities! The Apostle tells us, in a marvelous way. He says,

"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."[2]

Marvelous, magnificent words! May they be true in our lives. May we say that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. May we live by faith, since this is the only way to accomplish our task. And what is our task? It is to know Christ isn't it? Isn't that what it said in the other Gospel today?[3] Our Savior was praying to His Heavenly father, shortly before He was going to go to His great passion for our salvation, and He said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."[4]

What is knowledge? Knowledge is intimacy. Knowledge is … love. To know God is to love Him, and give everything to Him.

We see evidence of this kind of love even in our own relationships. The love of a husband for a wife, or a child for his mother or father, and especially the love of an infant, such perfect love.

But just like a child who is not so intimate with his parents after he has done something wrong – he doesn't show up in the same room for a while, he doesn't want to talk to them, he hangs his head, he has broken communion with them because of guilt - so it is with us, if we do not follow the Lord's commandments. Then, we will not be able to cry "Abba, Father", because we will be hanging our head in shame. Or worse, I say most people don't do that, because they cannot bear that kind of shame. Instead, they just leave God. They become choked with cares, or lusts or passions, with misplaced priorities, or they become even worse than that, and they wither away, and have no faith whatsoever. That's what happens to most people.

I hope that in our church, if you forgive the expression, we beat the "odds". I hope that all of us will be good ground, but I know that the only way that this can be possibly true is if we struggle - apart and together. We must pray for one-another, help one-another, and then, in our corner, in our closet, cry out to God each day, asking Him to help us with whatever passions we have, with whatever sins we commit. Even if we have poor attitudes, and we desire to change our attitudes.

Do you know that all sin, and even all action proceeds from thought? Everything we do proceeds from thought. We decide to do something, and then we do it, whether it is good or bad. So we must amend our thoughts. That is why the Apostle Paul says,

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."[5]

Train yourself! So now, if you want to be good ground, you must not add any trash to this ground. You must not add such things as impure thoughts, gossip, judging others. You can surely think of many other things that are within your heart that you do and that are affecting your ground. And if ground is left alone, and just walked over, and not cared for, it becomes the wayside. It becomes hard and the seed can no longer penetrate, and that which is in it dies, or never germinates. So we have a great labor to do, my brothers and sisters. We must continue to care for our ground carefully. And we must have patience.

There are two sides to patience. One is that we must be patient with our position in life, with our status, with the amount of money we make, with the difficulties we are encountering. We must not curse God or say that we should have this or we should have that. This is one kind of patience.

There is another kind – a very important kind of patience. Allow God to work! It takes time for Him to work. We do not know how much time we have, but the time we have is what God has allotted to us. He is going to use every moment of that time to perfect us. So, if we have trouble with our sins, if there is something that we fall into every day, then EVERY day repent of it, and be patient!

Be manly in spirit, and do not be like a child and run away from that sin, or rather, run away from the knowledge of that sin, since it will always be with you until you conquer it. Confront it! Confront it with sword and with shield, and with buckler, and with faith.[6] Eventually, God will deliver you. It will happen. It is guaranteed. If a man struggles to know to know God's commandments, He will reveal them. This is absolutely certain, because in your struggling, you will be doing His commandments.

So, be patient, and cultivate your ground every day, every moment. However, be careful not to judge yourself. This is a hard lesson, that takes us a long time to learn – to not judge ourselves, and look at the sins we are doing and to say we can never do better. In some things we do better, and in some things, God help us and forgive us, we have done worse, but the demons cannot take away from us that we are children of the Most High.

We are able to cry "Abba Father", only if we are struggling to live in Christ. God lives within us. He enlightens us, He helps us, even though we are sinners. So, if He has come to us and has offered us FREELY His grace and mercy, who are we, in our pride and arrogance to say "that is not enough mercy or enough grace. I can't change"? Every man can change. Everyone can change magnificently if he only allows God to change him, but this takes time, a lot of time.

I am sure, you are like me, and are very tired of your sins. They weigh us down, they are like an anchor, and they cut and they hurt. And yet, in some weird and perverted way, they are dear to us. They must be dear to us in some way, but God understands, and will help us if we make an effort, and if we are patient.

None of us right now are the wayside because we are at least trying to be Christians. Some of us may be the rock, some may be thorns. God knows, and this will be all revealed in the end. Even if you have very little soil right now, and even if you are choked with thorns and cares, God will help you to become good soil. He will help any man to become good soil. He is no respecter of persons. Any man that desires will be given, freely, God's mercy. So take God's mercy and clasp it to your hearts. Hold in to it and cultivate it, and be good soil, and God will save you.

Amen.

References:

[2] Galations 2:19-20
[3] John 17:1-13, read for the Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and other times during the year
[4] John 17:3
[5] Philippians 4:8
[6] Cf. Ephesians 6:13-17

Priest Seraphim Holland is with St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas.

The Parable of the Sower and the Four Categories of those that Hear the Word of God

by Tassos Kioulachoglou

It is usual, when we want to emphasize something to repeat it more than one time. Similarly, though everything that is in the Word of God is important, when something is repeated more than one time, it obviously has special importance and special attention should be paid to it. One of these multi-repeated passages, is also the parable of the sower. Really, as a look in the four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ shows, this parable is repeated three times. It would be therefore interesting to examine it and see what is the specially important that God wants to teach us by it.

The Parable

The parable of the sower is recorded in: Matthew 13:1-8, Mark 4:1-9, and Luke 8:4-8. Taking the Luke's record as our point of departure, we read.

"And a great crowd coming together, and those in each city coming to him, he spoke by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And others fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit a hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, he who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
- Luke 8:4-8

Starting from the time that Jesus chose to say this parable, this was by no means accidental. Really, as verse 4 tells us: "And a great crowd coming together, and those in each city coming to him, he [when he saw this crowd coming to him] spoke by a parable..." Jesus said this parable when many people were coming to him to hear the Word of God. As we will see, the parable is about the hearing of the Word. Thus Jesus, by saying this parable, wanted to make all those that were coming to him to hear the Word, aware of the available choices.

By the Wayside

A look at the above passage of Luke shows that the parable is about a seed that fell in four different kinds of land, the first of which was "by the wayside". As Luke 8:5 tells us:

Luke 8:5, "A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it."
Some of the seed that the sower sowed fell "By the wayside" and thus it neither sprang up nor it gave any fruit but it was trampled down and eaten by the birds.

The explanation of this part of the parable is given some verses later. Thus, in Luke 8:11-12 we read:

Luke 8:11-12, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved."

Also, Matthew 13:19 explaining the same part, says:

"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside."

According to the above passages, the seed that is sowed is THE WORD OF GOD or "the word of the kingdom". However, this Word does not give everywhere the same results, since its fruitfulness depends on the ground where it falls. One of the possible kinds of ground is also the "by the wayside" ground, which, according to the interpretation of the parable, is composed of people that though hear the Word of God, "do not understand it". What is meant by "do not understand it" is something that we will see from the context. Really, the Greek word translated as "understand" in the above passage, is the verb "suniemi" that is used 6 times in Matthew 13, 5 of which in regard to our parable. Thus Matthew 13:13-15 tells us:

Matthew 13:13, "....seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand (Greek: suniemi). And in them [in those that seeing do not see and hearing do not understand] the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand [Greek: suniemi], and seeing you will see and not perceive; FOR [this is the reason that they don't understand though they hear] this people's heart has become calloused. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should UNDERSTAND [Greek suniemi] WITH THEIR HEARTS and turn, so that I should heal them"

While with the ears one hears the Word, with the heart [the inner part of the mind] he "understands" it. It is not therefore a simple mental understanding of the Word that is meant in the parable of the sower. It is rather an understanding, an acceptance of the Word with the heart, the inner part of the mind. That's why the result of the seed is not dependent on the seed, the Word, but on the ground, the hearts of those that hear the Word. The same seed falling in different kinds of ground, i.e. in hearts of different quality, gives different results. When the heart is calloused then the seed of the Word will be like falling by the way. It is not going neither to spring up nor of course to give any fruit. As II Corinthians 4:3-4 and Ephesians 4:17-19 tell us:

II Corinthians 4:3-4, "But even if our gospel is VEILED, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this world has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them"
Ephesians 4:17-19, "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having THEIR UNDERSTANDING DARKENED, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, BECAUSE OF THE BLINDNESS OF THEIR HEART; Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."

There are people to whom the Word of God is "veiled" and who cannot "understand" it, not because the Word is something difficult to understand, but because their hearts are calloused, hard, not permitting any growth of the seed of the Word.

Regarding now the Greek word translated as "blindness" in the above passage of Ephesians, this is the word "πωρωσις" (porosis) that means "callousness". It is the same word that it is used in Mark 3:5 to describe the heart of a characteristic group of people that so much persecuted Jesus: the Pharisees:

Mark 3:5, "And when he [Jesus Christ] had looked around at them [it means the Pharisees (see Mark 2:24)] with anger, being grieved by the hardness [porosis-callousness] of their hearts....."

The Pharisees had the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God before them!! They heard and saw the greatest teacher, the greatest man that ever passed from the face of the earth. And yet they didn't believe him. The reason? Their hearts were calloused, i.e. very hard and thus inappropriate for the receiving and growing of the seed of the Word. It was not the seed, the Word, that was not good but the LAND, their hearts, that was hard.

The Second Category

Having examined the first kind of land to which the seed of the Word falls, we will now move ahead to the second one. Matthew 13:5-6 tells us about it:

Matthew 13:5-6, "Some [seeds] fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up, because they had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, they were scorched and because they had no root, they withered away."

A seed can spring up in various kinds of ground. However, it will not survive and give fruit in all of them. One of the grounds where the seed, though it will initially spring up, finally it will not survive is the stony ground. The reason that the seed cannot survive there, is because the stones do not permit it to put deep roots necessary to find moisture. Thus with the first it withers away.

Choosing Mark's record for the explanation of this part of the parable, we read:

Mark 4:16-17, "These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, IMMEDIATELY RECEIVE IT with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, IMMEDIATELY THEY FALL AWAY"

As it can be seen, the stony ground is composed of people that hearing the Word, receive it immediately and in fact with gladness. However, this does not last for long, for when persecution and affliction arises, these people, again immediately, fall away. As it is obvious, the problem that finally causes their fall is that they are very weak in persecution and affliction. Thus, when the devil brings such things against them, they immediately fall. Their falling is not caused because the affliction is too heavy for them to bear, for II Corinthians 4:17, I Corinthians 10:12-13 and I Peter 5:10 tells us that the affliction will be light and certainly no more than what we can bear (I Corinthians 10:12-13). Instead, it is caused because they are not willing to show even the smallest resistance to the devil [they fall IMMEDIATELY as the text says]. As James 4:7 tells us:

James 4:7, "Therefore submit to God. RESIST the devil and [as a result of your resistance] he will flee from you."

Also I Peter 5:8-9 says:

"be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of sufferings."

If we will not resist the devil, he is not going to flee from us. In contrast, he devours those that do not resist him. To this category of potential food of the devil belong also the people of this second category. When the devil comes bringing afflictions, they immediately fall and thus becoming an easy food for him. They have a good beginning but unfortunately a bad end.

The Third Category

Having considered the first two categories of people that hear the Word, we will now move ahead to the third one. Mark 4:7, tells us:

Mark 4:7, "And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit"

The third kind of ground to which the seed falls is the thorny ground. The seed falling in this ground is choked, thus giving no fruit. To understand what is meant by this part of the parable, we will go to Mark 4:18-19 where we read:

Mark 4:18-19, "And these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones that hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

Unfortunately, this third category of people is also problematic. The problem with this category is that the Word of God is kept in their hearts together with other things such as "the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things". These things finally act as thorns to the Word's growth, choking it and making it unfruitful. In contrast to what the people of this category do, Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 6:25-34, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: for they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin: And yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things."

FIRST are the things of the kingdom of God AND THEN all the other things. If we apply this principle, then all the other things will be added to us. If however, we don't apply it but in the top position we put cares and other things, then these other things will choke the Word, making it unfruitful.

The Fourth Category

By now we have examined three kinds of ground to whom the seed of the word fell. Unfortunately, none of them was able to make the seed fruitful. Thus the first kind of ground, that was "by the way", was so hard that the seed not even sprang up. Also the other one was stony not permitting the seed to put deep roots. Finally the third one was thorny choking the seed and making it unfruitful. Having seen three unfruitful categories, it is now time to see what is the GOOD land, the land on which the seed of the Word falling, gives fruit. Matthew 13:8 tells us about it:

Matthew 13:8, "But others fell on good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty"

The explanation is given in Matthew 13:23:

"But he that received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word, and understands [Greek: suniemi] it; who indeed bears fruit, and produces: some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

This time the seed didn't fall by the way, or on a stony ground, or among thorns, but ON A GOOD GROUND, composed of people that hear the Word AND UNDERSTAND [Greek: suniemi] it. As Luke 8:15 explains this "understand it":

Luke 8:15, "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, in AN HONEST AND GOOD HEART, having heard the word, KEEP it, and bring forth fruit WITH PATIENCE."

As we may remember, the first category of people couldn't "understand", receive, the Word for their hearts were calloused, hard. In contrast, the people of this only fruitful category UNDERSTAND the Word putting it in their GOOD and HONEST heart. This fruitful category has all that the other three unfruitful categories missed. Thus though in the first category the people had calloused hearts, here the hearts are GOOD AND HONEST. Also though in the second category the people had no endurance but fell immediately with the first affliction, here the people are patient (they "bring forth fruit WITH PATIENCE" as the text says) and do not give up. Finally, though in the third category the Word of God was choked by the various cares and desires which got the top position, here it is KEPT in the hearts of those people, not losing its position for the sake of any other thing. This is the fruitful category. The only category that brings forth fruit. And as Christ said in John 15:

John 15:1-2, 4-5, 8, 16, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit....Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.........By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples......You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give you."

God cleans every branch that bears fruit so that it may bring forth more. The more fruit that one brings, the more God is glorified.

Conclusion

To conclude therefore. The Word of God may be spoken to various kinds of people. However, the results will be different as different is the quality of the heart of the people that hear the Word. Thus others will reject it, others will accept it till the first affliction, others will receive it but eventually will put it in the last position putting other things (cares, riches, other desires) over it, and finally others will keep it in a good and honest heart bringing forth fruit. That's why Jesus, finishing the interpretation of the parable said "take heed HOW you hear" (Luke 8:18). It is not only that one hears the Word, but it is also HOW he hears it, for many may hear the Word but only those that hear it and keep it in a good and honest heart will be fruitful. May we all be and continue to be in this category.

Source: ecclesia.org

Malankara World Journals With The Theme: The Parable of the Sower

Volume 6 No 357 July 8 2016
Theme: Parable of The Sower

Volume 4 No 230: August 1, 2014
Theme: The Parable of the Sower

Volume 3 No 156: August 8, 2013
Theme: Kingdom of God

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