He who has ears to hear

He who has ears to hear






Reading – Matt 13:1-23 Parable of the Sower


The parable of the sower is a wonderful parable. It is one of the few parables that we have Jesus’ explanation of the parable recorded for us. Jesus not only tells us what the parable is about, he also tells us why he tells parables and why he has told this parable.


Parables are stories with a message. By telling stories Jesus delivered the word of God in a simple, easy to listen to message.


Everyone loves stories, right from when we’re little kids it’s ingrained in us that when someone says, let me tell you a story, we stop and listen.

 I have two brothers and a little sister. My mother tells the story of how when we brothers were too old to be told bedtime stories, but my little sister was still being told bedtime stories, when she was telling my sister a bedtime story that us boys still liked, one by one we would sneak into her bedroom to listen to the story. Until were all there listening, even my Father too.

Jesus knew how much we love stories and so a lot of his teaching was in the form of parables.

In verses 11-17 of the chapter we had read Jesus explains that there are people who have hardened their hearts to God, who do not want to hear Gods word. Telling the word of God in parables, gave people no excuse. A parable is easy to listen to so there was no excuse for not hearing it and taking it in. But for those people who want to get to understand the word of God, the parable means that they have to think about the message to understand what it means.

And so the parable of the sower is actually about what different people do with the word of God when they hear it.

In this parable the seed represents the word of God. Jesus explains that the seed that falls on the path is like people who hear the word and do not understand it and so it is taken away. As I said earlier, Jesus has already explained in verses 14 and 15, that people do not understand because they do not want to understand. It has nothing to do with them being unable to understand, or an evil being called the devil preventing them understanding. When Jesus talks about the devil, he is talking about anything that is opposed to God and most often and indeed in this case it is our own evil desires that are that opposition. So the seed that falls on the path are people that do not want to understand.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (New International Version)

2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

People are very good at hearing what they want to hear, and not hearing what they don’t want to hear. In England we call this ‘Selective hearing’. For example a child who has perfectly good hearing, may decide not to hear when his parent calls him to come in from play as its bed time. Equally I’ve never known a child not hear when you tell them you have a present for them.

At the time of Jesus there were people who saw the most amazing miracles that Jesus performed and yet would still not believe.

John 10:22-28

 22Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

 25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

So there are people who don’t want to hear the word of God, because they want to carry on living their lives the way they are. And these people will perish. But for the people who do hear the word they will have eternal life.


Verse 20 of the parable

20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

In the other talks this weekend we will be looking at how we develop a good root so that we do not fall away when trouble or persecution comes.

Hebrews 2:1
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

The first two chapters of Hebrews details the importance of staying true to our faith. And in this verse the importance paying close attention to what we have heard, because it is literally a matter of life and death. How we hear the word of God and what we do with what we hear means either everlasting life in God’s kingdom or everlasting contempt as those who will die forever.

Again I will be spending quite a bit of time this weekend in the next few talks explaining how we gain a good root to prevent us wilting away when trouble or persecution comes because it is so important.

Verse 22

“22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

This is something that is a big problem for Christians in England. We have very busy lives with demanding jobs, and the nature of living in that sort of country means that it is very easy to become preoccupied with all of the worries of life and therefore not having time for God.

Thorns therefore are often of our own creation. If we a preoccupied with things of the world then these thorns will become bigger and bigger. And really the things of this world are not important.

How much importance do we put on the things of the world? The more importance we place on them, the more likely it is that like the weeds they can choke us.

Jesus says the following in Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:20-22 

 19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus makes it quite clear that as God is looking after us, there is no need to place high importance on the cares of this life. The material things of this world are temporary, they can be stolen or lost or broken. But focusing on the things that God wants us to care about will help us as we head towards God’s kingdom.

So instead of worrying about the things of this life we should instead focus on growing like the seed that fell on good ground.

Verse 23

23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Notice how Jesus describes the seed that falls on good soil. It is the man who hears the word and understands it. It is so important once we have heard the word, to take it into our hearts and minds, to fully understand it and so that we can produce a good crop for God.

James 1:19-21

 19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James is very clear in what he says. Verse 22 do not merely listen to the word and so deceive, yourselves. Do what it says. Did you also notice how in verse 25 James says doesn’t just say that we are blessed in what we do for just reading the word once and them forgetting it. He says that the man who continually looks into the word and does what it say, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Becoming a Christian, is not just about hearing the word of God. It is about continually looking into the word and doing what it says.

The word of God, is God talking to us, it is God telling us how to live our lives. It is God telling us how much he loves us, how much he wants to give us eternal life and how much he wants us to have a relationship with him.

Jesus said

Luke 8:21

 21He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

So God doesn’t just want to get to know him, Jesus says we can be part of God’s family, if we hear God’s word and put it into practice.

The really amazing thing is that for us to grow into a crop that brings forth many times what is sown, we need to develop a relationship with God and Jesus.

Like any good relationship, our development as Christians isn’t about just hearing the word of God and putting those words into practice. It’s about talking back to God so that you can develop that relationship.

So how do we talk to God?

Do any of you know what God’s phone number is? It’s really easy to remember and so useful when trying to develop a relationship with God.

It’s Jeremiah 333

Jeremiah 33:3 (New International Version)

3 'Call to me and I will answer you

It’s really as simple as that. Talk to God, and he will answer you. Pray to him and he will answer your prayers. Like any relationship, the answer may not always be the answer you want but God will answer your prayers.

It’s useful to remember the following: “God always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer is ‘Yes’, sometimes it’s ‘No’ and sometimes its ‘wait’.”

Someone once told me a story that is also helpful when thinking of our relationship with Jesus.

There were two Christians who went away on holiday together. They had booked a twin room in a hotel and when it came to bed time the first Christian had gone up to bed early and spent half an hour on his knees by the side of the bed in prayer. Just as he was finishing the second Christian came up to the room, knelt down in prayer for 10seconds then got into bed. The first Christian said “how come you’ve got so little to pray about”? The second Christian answered saying “when you’ve been talking all day all you need to say in the evening is good night!”

This next verse is my favourite bible verse:

James 4:8 (New International Version)

8Come near to God and he will come near to you.

That is absolutely amazing but so important. Just like in any relationship, the closer you move to God by prayer and doing all the things instructed in his word, so he will come closer to you.









We said in the talk that God wants us to develop a relationship with him and to do this we need to pray to him.

But does God really hear our prayers, and what are his answers and when do they come?

Luke 1:13
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.

What do you think that Zechariah was praying for when is prayer was heard. Why? What do we learn about prayer from this incident?


James 5:13-20

How important do we think prayer is having read these verses?










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