Sermon: Hearing What the Prophets Longed to Hear Matthew 13:1–23

Truth Taught- The disciples heard and understood Jesus speak and teach, something the Prophets only dreamed of. 

Introduction

Today I’d like to read the Parable of the Sower and then look at Jesus’ explanation to His disciples.  What we should see here is that the spiritual insight God gives His people does not bring with it automatic knowledge that appears out of thin air to all who have the Holy Spirit but this knowledge is given by revelation.  

It works like this…

Watch for Jesus’ revelation to the disciples…
The disciples are those whom spiritual hearing has been granted.  Did you catch that last time?  The disciples did not decide one day to really listen close to Jesus’ words or His parables.  They didn’t compare notes and come up with an interpretation.  Matthew uses the phrase it has been given… 

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

We also saw together that this act of God is an act of pure divine grace.  It is a gift given to God’s people.  

It’s a gift that’s been given to us.  As believers we have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  Because we have the Spirit we are given the ability to see and hear spiritual things.  The knowledge and insight doesn’t appear out of thin air but requires revelation.  In other words, we need the material to believe and understand.  For us, that’s where the Bible comes into play.  We read it prayerfully and God gives us insight through the Holy Spirit at work within us to receive the Word and submit to its truth.  

For the disciples the revelation comes directly from Jesus.  He is their New Testament until it comes later.  

So, in the context of this crowd Jesus is revealing truth to those who are His and He is hiding truth from those who will never be His.

Let’s read God’s Word today….

Matthew 13:1–23 (ESV) 

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” 

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: 

       “ ‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand, 

and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 

15    For this people’s heart has grown dull, 

and with their ears they can barely hear, 

and their eyes they have closed, 

       lest they should see with their eyes 

and hear with their ears 

       and understand with their heart 

and turn, and I would heal them.’ 

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 

1.  Hearing By Grace
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 

For all who have sensory organs eyes and ears that perceive spiritual truth are, as Jesus tells us, blessed.  This is not a feeling but literally and favored position before God.  You have gone from death to life.  You have been translated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light.  You have been given a heart of flesh that can understand and submit to the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

To the disciples the parables will become a wonderful blessing as they perceive the richness they offer.  I pray the parable will be a blessing to you as well.

17 For truly, I say to you…

Here, Jesus is speaking in prophet language.  The original language is I solemnly declare to you.  He is speaking as a prophet and explaining that the OT Prophets spoke these words to the people but never saw or heard the fulfillment of their prophecies when it came to the Messiah, Jesus.  They longed to see and hear what the Apostles were currently seeing and hearing but didn’t.

1 Peter 1:10–12 (ESV) 

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 

The Old Testament prophets who had received this salvation didn’t know all the things we know today.  They spent many hours pouring over their own work to see if they could discover more about the salvation that we know in it’s fullness.

The prophets were on the other side of the cross.  They were not as far along in God’s redemptive plan as we are today.  They searched diligently into this salvation.

Let’s move forward and discover together something the OT Prophets longed to hear and see.  Let’s also learn just how it is that the disciples are blessed.

2.  Hear, Then the Parable
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:

Notice the impact of this reading…

17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:

Our Lord is stressing that they are about to receive what the OT people only longed to receive.  They are about to have revelation explained to them by Jesus, Himself.  

They are about to have handed to them Jesus’ own verbal study Bible, if you will.  He is going to explain the meaning of the parable of the soils.  This is just for them because they alone have hearing that is tuned to Jesus and God’s truth.

Jesus is going to explain to all His people who have ears to hear what the meaning is to the Parable of the Soils.  This is a teaching that we as His people are to act as God’s sowers casting the seed of the Gospel into the wind and God determines who hears and believes and who rejects the message.  The true Sower is, of course, Jesus Christ. As sowers, it’s not our job to be selective as far as whom we tell but that’s God’s roll not ours.  We just throw the seed the rest is God.

            A.  Those without spiritual hearing have the Word snatched away.  

 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

Luke 8:11 (ESV) 

11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 

So, let’s be clear…
The Seed is the Word, Message or Gospel of God
The Sower initially is Jesus Christ and later we are sowers

The Soil is the heart of man that is prepared by God for the seed or word or not prepared.

Verse 19 shows a case study in unresponsiveness.  Here the person’s heart is hard to the Word of God.  This person will not and cannot receive it.  It’s like seed that lands on cement it will not take root.  This seed simply lays there until the birds come and eat it. 

In this case God’s Word is sown but the hard heart cannot receive it.  The Word is rejected.  

Here’s perhaps what this might look like…
A person hears a sermon but has no interest at all in it.  His fallen nature under the influence of this satanic world rejects the Word literally thrusts it away from him because as far as he’s concerned it is nothing of importance and nothing he needs.

This person is offended very easily by the church, the preacher, or the people in the church.  He can always find something wrong so that he can discredit the truth.  What’s really happening is the Word of God itself is offensive because it points out the fact that this man is a sinner, under just condemnation, and is required to repent and change.

You may know someone like this?  The Word just bounces off.
We have an example in the Bible of a person who fits the bill…


Acts 24:24–25 (ESV) 

24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 

Felix was somewhat alarmed but was not too concerned and sent Paul away till later.  For Felix, later never came.

            B.  Those without spiritual hearing do not persevere

20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.


Here is the person who is joyfully thrilled about the message of the Word of God…at first.  For a while and even perhaps a long while they may seem enthusiastic over the Word of God.  These people are not really Christians and they of course do not ever persevere. 
As Jesus tells us they spring up quickly.  The seed sprouts and begins to grow looking to be healthy and promising.  The problem, again, is with the soil.  This ground has some topsoil on the surface but under it is gravel and rocks.  The seed can sprout and even begin to grow the roots, however, cannot get down into the moist dirt and as soon as a scorching sun rises the heat kills the plant.  
What is the scorching heat for this person?  Jesus tells us its trials, persecution and tribulation.  When it becomes hard to be a Christian their true colors are seen.  They have no commitment level.  They decide comfort and friends are more important than Jesus and the Gospel.  They fall away.  For them, Jesus is a means to a better life of comfort and not the end of all things.  Once they discover that being a Christian requires saying no to certain opportunities and once they learn that their lives must be lived to God’s glory and not their glory it’s over about as quickly as it started.

I can think of two people in the Bible like this…
Judas looked like the real thing but clearly was not.  He was more interested in the money bag than in Christ.  When he realized Jesus was not the means to wealth and power for him, he turn Him in for 30 pieces of silver.
Another we don’t know as much about in the NT is Demas.


Philemon 23–24 (ESV) 

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 

Colossians 4:14 (ESV) 

14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 

Demas seemed to be the real deal for a while.  Then like Judas things got hard and when Paul needed him the most caved.

2 Timothy 4:10 (ESV) 

10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 

Demas and Judas were rock soil hearts.

            C.  Those without spiritual hearing are preoccupied with worldly cares

 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

This person cannot calmly and peacefully meditate on the Word.  Their lives are so busy and full of weeds and roots that those things take over.  If any truth enters their minds it is immediately choked out.  These people are so engrossed with cares of this life they cannot focus much at all on the life to come.  

This person is so self centered they can’t focus on anyone but themselves.  They have no ministry in the Church, no outreach, no real love for others.  All they think about is this world.

I know people so consumed with the things of this world that it’s evident there is no spiritual life within them.  These people are not Christians either.  The soil of their hearts cannot sustain the seed because the roots of other things choke out the plant.  There is no fruit in their lives.
You may know someone who goes to church regularly but has no fruit in their lives.

The Word in their lives proves unfruitful.

They are too caught up in the cares of this world.

They are the people who waste away their lives daydreaming about riches.  They fantasize about all the things they want in this life but do not consider eternity.

These people love this world and try to mix in Jesus too.  When you try to put a shovel into this soil it’s very difficult because it is always hitting roots.  Worldly roots are everywhere.

1 John 2:15–17 (ESV) 

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  

            D.  Those with spiritual hearing receive the Word and bear fruit

23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 

Here the seed hits the target, good fertile soil.  What happens when a seed lands on fertile soils and gets the right amount of rain and sunshine?  It grows having roots that reach down deep into the good dirt and then it bears fruit.  It produces what the farmer had intended all along.  The purpose in sowing seed is fruit at the harvest.  You don’t plant tomato plants to watch the plants.  Your goal is the fruit of tomatoes. 

The fruit of a good prepared heart is conversion.  The person is changed, they are not the same anymore.  They are a new creation in Christ.  The fruit of faith is evident.  There is love for others that manifests itself in service and care.  There is joy and peace where there was unhappiness and frustration.

Acts 16:13–15 (ESV) 

13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 

The good seed falls on good soil and brings forth good fruit all to the glory of God.

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

%d bloggers like this: