Red Letter Year: 4/15

Matthew 13:1-15

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. 15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes — so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’”


We are going to spend two days with this parable, reading the story itself today and the explanation Jesus gave privately tomorrow. I don’t want to say too much here and try to resist reading ahead. Instead, sit with this parable today. Let it paint pictures in your mind. The sower. (Is that all he does? Is that a real job title?) The seed (spread all over, with an inherent power to sprout). The foot path – probably busy with traffic. The ground with a thin layer of soil over hard rock. The soil that is not well tended, full of weeds. And the good soil – quiet, deep, taking the seed in and letting it do its thing to maximum effect. We are not the people who hear but don’t understand. Yet, Jesus still taught in parables, often without a follow up explanation. Spend a day with this one before checking the answer key. 

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.