The Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven
The Parable of the Four Soils
1 Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2 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. 3 He told many stories in the form of parables,
such as this one: A Introduction
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and
the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because
the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7
Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 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! 9 Anyone with ears to
hear should listen and understand.” B Parable to the crowd & disciples got at this point
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 (6:9-10) 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.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets
and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they
didn’t hear it.
18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath
represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches
away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and
immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as
they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those
who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so
no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and
produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” C purpose and explanation
1) What are parables? 2) How do I understand a parable? 3) How do I learn? 4) What do I do with what I learn?
PARABLE – a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson
HOT TO UNDERSTAND – To us, westerners, we think of parables as helpful illustrative stories that are hard to grasp the
message. This is an eastern way to teach. Parables do not explain. To some they may only deepen confusion. The
difference lies in the hearer's ability to rise to the challenge. Far from giving explanations, parables themselves need
But with Rabbi Jesus that explanation is not given to everyone, but only to the disciples. Matthew not only makes the
point – only parables for the crowds, not explanations – but also confirms it in v. 35 – parables are 'hidden things,' the
secrets of the kingdom of heaven.
Parables – we have to learn how to interact with the teachings of a Jewish Rabbi. Every parable is told to
challenge/provoke us to grow/be refined.
These parables we are going to study served as teasers for the unbelievers who heard them and were designed to prompt
further thought and inquiry, for the believers they were also designed to do the same, but explanation would be provided
for them. So, for both groups more work was required!
Common examples from the rabbis: (jot this down)
Sponge, funnel, strainer, sieve:
Sponge – takes in and keeps everything. What’s good?
Funnel – takes in then loses it.
Strainer – takes in, but keeps the bad. “Bad eye.”
Sieve – takes in, keeps only the good. “Good eye,”
The Question the rabbi asks: What are you doing with what you have learned? That’s the implied question.
QUESTION: Do you like to learn?
Me in my 20s, I’m tired of learning, I just want to live. I could not imagine those that were going to get a Masters Degree,
a Doctorate. Become a doctor. I wanted to work and make money. Then I found myself doing manual labor in a family
business learning how to figure cost for house and build houses. I loved it. (It’s not good mentally to stop learning.)
QUESTION: How do you learn?
May not have thought about it: Reading the instruction manuals. Verbal. Listening to teaching. Step by step instructions.
Just give me the answer and I’ll internalize and go from there. Through discussion. By doing it.
TABLE QUESTION: What are you doing with what you with what you have learned during your life?
Another template: Quick learner slow doer – Quick learner quick doer – Slow learner slow doer – Slow learner slow doer
QUESTION: Which are you?
This parable follows the common template in Jesus’ world – four different learners.
Note: The focus is on the soils, not the sower.
The question is which soil are you?
IMPORTANT: People have to till their soil (do the work) – be able to “hear and see.”
Footpath – V4, V19 hear and don’t understand, evil one snatched away what was planted.
1) How do I break up the unplowed ground?
Seek the Lord for real. Be the person God has called you to be. Get help & instruction from those farther along the path.
**Do things the bible says to do – service – action – step out there. Learn by doing.**
How can I till my soil? Go to the text. Hosea 10:12 I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest
a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower
righteousness upon you.’
Rocky/Shallow soil – hear it, receive it/understand, but it doesn’t last no deep roots, fall away because of
2) How can I till up my rocky soil?
How will I till up my rocky soil? Isaiah 5:24 Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble and dry grass shrivels in the flame,
so their roots will rot and their flowers wither. For they have rejected the law of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies;
they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Put my resources in the law of the Lord Almighty. Till and extend my roots deeply. REMOVE THE ROCKS
Be like an Acaica tree planted by the water. (rain once a year-it floods) Deep roots that can withstand dry times.
Among thorns – hear, but message crowded out by worries/ pursuit of wealth (the world’s good life)
3) How will I deal with “thorns“ in my life?
Take focus off of the world’s good life, focus on what Jesus says is the Good Life – Sermon on the Mount.
Jeremiah 4:3-4 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your
hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
Deal with idolatry. Worries of this world. Deceitfulness of wealth. Jeremiah – God was dealing with the lust for empire
– wealth and greed.
Fertile soil – hear, understand, and produce a harvest.
4) Sum it up. How can I be fertile soil?
Learning, being, doing.
Jesus taught. – So we learn
But that’s not all.
He was “in” the Father – we need to BE in His care.
He served. So we serve.
Disciples: Why are you teaching this way? Jesus: “So that they won’t understand me.” (Jesus would be a horrible
western teacher) Because He’s an eastern rabbi. “But I’ll tell you.”
Isaiah 6 Some people really don’t want to change. You have to want it. You will have to want to be challenged.
V16-17 As the unbelievers in Jesus' day were the spiritual descendants of the unbelievers in Isaiah's day, so the disciples
were the sons of the prophets. And, the prophets had wished more had been revealed to them.
Are going to dig, do the work? Are you going to continue to dig, work, in all kinds of “weather?” Are your roots going to
go deep? Like the Acacia tree in a tough, dry, formidable land?
LEARN, never stop – BE GOD’s man or woman – DO good deeds
GROW DEEP ROOTS that can withstand the storms and the droughts, the good times and the hard times. When trouble
comes, trust the path.