Matthew 13;1-9: Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8
While Jesus was teaching, He often told stories like this one.
“There once was a man planting seeds in his field. Some seeds fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up while other seeds fell on rocky ground where there was not much soil. Those seeds did not sprout up easily because there was nowhere for their roots to find water, and they died as soon as it became hot.
“Some seeds fell among the thistles while some were choked by weeds. Other seeds fell on good soil. These plants grew strong and tall and the fruit they grew was thirty to a hundred times more than what was first planted.”
Jesus looked at all the people listening, a few nodded, they understood, but many more were shaking their heads. They did not know what Jesus was talking about, so Jesus explained the story. When Jesus told the story of planting seeds, there were many, including His disciples, who did not know what He meant.
Jesus said His stories were a way of finding out who wanted to follow Him. Those who looked for the real lesson behind the stories were serious about living as Jesus wanted them to but those who had hardened their hearts were not.
Jesus told them. “The seeds are the lessons I teach. Some people hear the word of God. Sometimes they choose to ignore what they have heard. Then God’s enemy, like the birds in the story, steals away what little truth they did manage to learn. These are like the seeds planted by the roadside. The seeds planted in rocky places are the people who hear with joy what I teach. They try for a little while to follow me. It does not take much, just a few problems, before they go back to their old ways.
“The seeds sown with the thistles are the people who hear the word. They also know what I’ve taught, but then they let the problems of daily living choke the new life. They worry and want to make more money so nothing comes from the lessons they learned.
“Lastly, there are the seeds which are planted on good ground. They are the people who listen and practice what they have learned from my stories. They tell God they are sorry for what they have done. They try their hardest to change. These people will teach others about following me. They will teach by saying, as well as doing.”
Jesus taught that anyone who believes in Him can choose where to plant the seed of truth. Will you plant the lessons you have learned in good ground or rocky ground?
Jesus told His disciples another story, again it had to do with planting seeds.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like the man who planted good seed in his field. Then his enemy came and planted weeds together with the wheat. When the wheat sprang up, the weeds grew as well. The farmer’s workers asked if they should pull up the weeds and he told them ‘no, because then you might pull up the young wheat with it. Wait until it is time for the harvest. Then gather the weeds and we will burn them. After that we can harvest the wheat’”.
Then Jesus explained. “The one who planted the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The wheat plants are those who follow me and the weeds are those who will not follow me. Instead they keep on being selfish and hurting other people. The enemy is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world.”
Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the kingdom of God. They knew anyone could belong to this kingdom as soon as they chose to follow Jesus. They knew God was the King, but what was it like?
Jesus told them the Kingdom of Heaven was like a mustard seed. That is the tiniest of the tiny seeds. Once a mustard seed starts sending down roots, it grows and grows into a tall tree. Mustard trees are often the biggest trees in the garden. Birds love to build their nests in mustard trees.
Jesus used another story to teach the same lesson. “The kingdom of God is like a small bit of yeast which a woman puts into flour.” That little pinch of yeast has the power to turn a lump of baked flour into a loaf of bread.”
Both stories showed that small beginnings in the kingdom of God can grow in great ways. Even if all a person does is whisper a soft. “Yes Jesus, I believe.” that small beginning can be the start of a truly great faith.
Jesus used stories when He taught the people. That way they could picture what He was talking about. Afterwards He explained the stories to His disciples. He wanted them to learn and grow wiser, understanding more and more.