The Parable of the Sower was told to the crowd that had gathered around Jesus. Jesus tells a story of a sower who scattered seeds on four different types of soil. The first type of ground was hard and the seed could not sprout or grow at all and became snatched up instantly. The second type of ground was stony. The seed was able to plant and begin to grow, however it could not grow deep roots and withered in the sun.
The third type of ground was thorny and although the seed could plant and grow, it could not compete with the amount of thorns that overtook it. The fourth ground was good soil that allowed the seed to plant deep, grow strong, and produce fruit.
Jesus used this parable to explain to his followers and the disciples how there are different responses to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The sower in the parable is Jesus and the seed is the word of God (both Jesus’s spoken word and today the Bible). The hard ground represents someone with a hardened heart full of sin that hears the word of God but does not accept it. Satan is able to keep this person from growing at all.
The stony ground is someone who shows interest and awareness in the Gospel, yet his heart isn’t fully convicted so that when trouble comes his faith is not strong enough to stand. The thorny ground is a person who receives the Gospel but who has many other idols and distractions in life – worries, riches, and lusts, which take over his mind and heart and he cannot grow in the truth of God’s Word. The good soil is someone who has heard and received the Word of God and allows it to take root and grow within his life. This person represents true salvation that bears good fruit.
Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower to teach how important the state of our heart is to receiving the Gospel and how our salvation is proved by our choices and actions after hearing the Gospel.
The Good Samaritan Luke 10: 23 – 37
Jesus answers the question using what is called the Socratic method; i.e., answering a question with a question: “He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’” (Luke 10:26). By referring to the Law, Jesus is directing the man to an authority they both would accept as truth, the Old Testament. In essence, He is asking the scribe, what does Scripture say about this and how does he interpret it? Jesus thus avoids an argument and puts Himself in the position of evaluating the scribe’s answer instead of the scribe evaluating His answer. This directs the discussion towards Jesus’ intended lesson. The scribe answers Jesus’ question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. This is virtually the same answer that Jesus had given to the same question in Matthew 22 and Mark 12.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing, and is beaten to within an inch of his life. That road was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. The next character Jesus introduces into His story is a priest. He spends no time describing the priest and only tells of how he showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. If there was anyone who would have known God’s law of love, it would have been the priest. By nature of his position, he was to be a person of compassion, desiring to help others. Unfortunately, “love” was not a word for him that required action on the behalf of someone else. The next person to pass by in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a Levite, and he does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. Again, he would have known the law, but he also failed to show the injured man compassion.
The next person to come by is the Samaritan, the one least likely to have shown compassion for the man. Samaritans were considered a low class of people by the Jews since they had intermarried with non-Jews and did not keep all the law. Therefore, Jews would have nothing to do with them. We do not know if the injured man was a Jew or Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan; he did not consider the man’s race or religion. The “Good Samaritan” saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. The Samaritan saw his neighbor as anyone who was in need.
Because the good man was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct. Jesus now asks the lawyer if he can apply the lesson to his own life with the question “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36). Once again, the lawyer’s answer is telling of his personal hardness of heart. He cannot bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”; he refers to the “good man” as “he who showed mercy.” His hate for the Samaritans (his neighbors) was so strong that he couldn’t even refer to them in a proper way. Jesus then tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise,” meaning that he should start living what the law tells him to do.
By ending the encounter in this manner, Jesus is telling us to follow the Samaritan’s example in our own conduct; i.e., we are to show compassion and love for those we encounter in our everyday activities. We are to love others (vs. 27) regardless of their race or religion; the criterion is need. If they need and we have the supply, then we are to give generously and freely, without expectation of return. This is an impossible obligation for the lawyer, and for us. We cannot always keep the law because of our human condition; our heart and desires are mostly of self and selfishness. When left to our own, we do the wrong thing, failing to meet the law. We can hope that the lawyer saw this and came to the realization that there was nothing he could do to justify himself, that he needed a personal savior to atone for his lack of ability to save himself from his sins. Thus, the lessons of the Parable of the Good Samaritan are three-fold: (1) we are to set aside our prejudice and show love and compassion for others. (2) Our neighbor is anyone we encounter; we are all creatures of the creator and we are to love all of mankind as Jesus has taught. (3) Keeping the law in its entirety with the intent to save ourselves is an impossible task; we need a savior, and this is Jesus.
The Parable of the Weeds
(Matthew 13: 24 – 33)
In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus said that “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away” (Matt 13:24-25), and in time, “when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also” (Matt 13:26). Jesus said you will know them by their fruits, or in this case, what comes to seed shows where the root is.
This parable teaches us that God is patient with the world. He waits until the time is right before he sends his angels to reap the harvest and separate the wheat from the weeds (the followers of Jesus from those opposed to him). God is giving people the maximum opportunity to mature into either wheat or weeds.
It tells us that God’s kingdom on earth is mixed with 2 types of people – those who follow Jesus and those who are rebelling against him. But… even though the kingdom is mixed now, there will be a time when the weeds are taken out and God’s kingdom will only be wheat. There is judgement coming, but at present we can’t always tell which ones are wheat and which ones are weeds.
It means that we shouldn’t be quick to judge whether someone is a weed or wheat. We should tell people of God’s patience and encourage them to choose to be wheat instead of weeds because a time for judgement is coming and then it’ll be too late.
The hidden treasure the pearl and the fish net
(Matthew 13: 44 – 51)
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Jesus tells parables to explain the Kingdom of God (kingdom of heaven, in Matthew’s words.Jesus is telling us, in no uncertain terms, that the kingdom is very valuable. It is also, apparently, very accessible. The man who found the treasure did not travel to a far away galaxy. He didn’t change his situation. He went about his day and, to his surprise, dug up the treasure.
Just before Jesus tells these parables, he has miraculously healed people. That’s not ordinary. But when he gets to his teaching about the Kingdom of God, he puts away talk of miracles and begins speaking about ordinary things. Why? Because the normal working of God is found in the ordinary. He can work outside of that, but his normal workings are inside of everyday life.
A field is something we take for granted. We pass by them all the time, and we give almost no thought to what’s inside. The kingdom of God is like that. It’s always around but seldom on our mind. In these parables, Jesus is bringing the Kingdom of God to the forefront of our mind. He’s telling us what it’s like and how important it is.
In the ancient land of Israel where Jesus lived and taught, on occasion, people accidentally found hidden treasures that had been buried hundreds of years beforehand by some wealthy member of a forgotten civilization. Naturally, if the fortunate finder didn’t own the land where he found the treasure, he would attempt to buy it, thus gaining the land and, more importantly, the treasure. If the purchaser thought the treasure was valuable enough, he might sell everything he owned to have enough money to purchase the field. It would be worth it, however, because he would regain all he sold and more, once the treasure was in his hands.
Jesus as an agent of change
(Matthew 11: 2 – 6)
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?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[ are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus presented Himself as the ever-present leader in John 21. Since He was not satisfied with leaving things they way they were, He sought to bring about change. If Jesus had never been an agent of change and He never revealed Himself to His disciples in the 21st chapter of John, the disciples could have ceased to be disciples and fishermen of men, and would have instead returned to their prior employment as regular fishermen, tax collectors, and tent makers. Their degree of uncertainty was left undisclosed to speculate as the author presents
the concluding verses to this Gospel.
Jesus’ vocabulary in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (New King James Version), explains that He was not here to conform to the law, but rather to transform it in a way that there would no longer be a need of sacrifice.
Again in Matthew 10:34 He says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” There had never been up to and never will be another to think the way Jesus thought and move with such intricate detail as He did.When Jesus comes into your life things change. He reverses the order of serving and life itself.
He fulfilled the word of God, brought about change, and delivered what He promised He would deliver. Although God cannot change, He can bring about change so that while not all would agree with it, it would serve for the betterment of the human race.
Christians as agents of change
(Ephesians 2:11 – 22, 1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 26)
The localized community of Christians is God’s agent for change: not the government, not non-profits, but the local Church committed to specific people in a specific place and time.
God intends to image forth the righteousness and justice of His Kingdom through His beloved community: the reconciled and transformed Body of Christ. We are to be the realization of divine love in lived social relation (John 13:34–35).
What matters most is that we are willing to open our doors and invite in the hurting and the broken to journey with a community that believes God is at work setting things to rights and reclaiming his beloved creation. Francis Schaeffer lends his wisdom:
“It is not enough for the Church to be engaged with the State in healing social ills, though this is important at times. But when the world can turn around and see a group of God’s people exhibiting substantial healing in the area of human relationships in their present life, then the world will take notice. Each group of Christians is, as it were, a pilot plant, showing that something can be done in the present situation, if only we begin in the right way.”
A community of Godly character:
The heart of Christian social justice is in the way that a personal faith in Christ can transform people into a new body of believers where there is no social, economic, racial, or gender division (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:10–11).
This is not meant to be in a “metaphorical” sense or “in spirit.” When the unsaved, in a world full of poverty, division, and oppression, after hearing the gospel ask where they can see that happening we should be able to show them such a place without hesitation.
The Church is to actively and creatively represent a new reality in a broken world. A place where materialism does not reign; a place that bears witness to the Prince of Peace in a violent and suffering world; a place where Christ is all and is in all (Act 2: 44–47). Dan Allender explains it well:
“God wants us to relieve suffering, pursue justice, facilitate reconciliation, and free the heart to love, but He desires for us to do so in a way that reveals His Character. It is not enough just to do well for others or to do things well. We must do well in our unique way in order to reveal the vast creativity of a God who loves to bring change through the most unlikely channels..”
At its very core a Christian response to God’s call for love and justice is not about “fixing” a faulty political system, giving money, or about raising cultural morals. It is about bridging the gap sin has created in human relationships. These fractures in our relationship to one another saturate the fallen human condition and it is within that breach that we as Christians are to stand.
Shalom: nothing missing, nothing broken:
Doing justice is about repairing the fabric of society where it is torn apart — restoring the Shalom of God. We are not merely called to “social justice” but to radical self-sacrifice for the sake of the world.
Yes, Christians should be involved in social justice. Yet, “social justice” is simply not a big enough term for our God and is not an apt description of what we are called to as Christ-followers. The” big three” social justice issues of race, poverty, and gender are absolutely central to what the Bible reveals about God’s heart for justice. As well as “the least of these”: the orphan and the widow, the hungry and the thirsty, the poor and the oppressed, the weak and the needy.
However, within the beloved community the stakes are much higher. Christ raised every standard to a supernatural level for His followers. Where the law instructs to love your neighbor as your self, Christ commands us to love as he loved us, to be perfect as God is perfect (John 13:34–35, Matthew 5:48).
Justice comes about when the Church is willing to stand in the breach that sin has caused in human relationships, and by the power of the Spirit, becomes for the world what Jesus was for the world — announcing the Kingdom, healing the wounds of the world, and challenging the power structures that perpetuate anger, pain, and oppression.