1. How many of you love a good story, especially one that teaches a good moral or a life altering lesson?
2. What is one of your favorite stories that fall into this category?
3. One of Jesus’ favorite teaching methods was storytelling. The Bible calls these stories parables. Does anyone know about how many parables Jesus told in the Gospels? (At least 30.)
Parable is defined as a short illustrative story drawn from nature or ordinary life that has a spiritual application. Someone has said a parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”
4. What do you think are some reasons Jesus was so popular among the common people? (He talked in terms they understood and dealt with on a daily basis.)
The setting for our study today is by the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum where a large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus teach. The inspiration for the parable Jesus told is a farmer who sowed seed in his field and the crop that was produced.
A Crowd! Read Matthew 13:1-3a
Jesus left the house where He was teaching to go to the sea. Even if His motive was to be alone, Jesus still attracted a huge crowd that necessitated Him getting into a boat and addressing the crowd.
1. It seems that large crowds followed Jesus everywhere He went. What viewpoints about Jesus were likely represented in this crowd?
2. What are some viewpoints people who attend church today have about Jesus?
3. How can we help people better understand the Bible and the truth about Jesus?
4. What do these verses reveal about Jesus’ heart for people then and now? (Jesus saw a great crowd gathered and wanted to share with them God’s truth and the realities of the kingdom. We, as Christians, should cultivate the same desire for all people to know God’s truth.)
A Parable! Read Matthew 13:3b-9 and 18-23
(Note: Teacher, consider pairing up the verses in 3b-9 with Jesus’ explanation of these verses in 18-23.)
1. What were the four different types of soil where seed fell? (Path, Rocky soil, Thorns and Good soil.)
2. What does each of the four different types of soil represent? (Path—the birds represent Satan taking the Word away as soon as it is spread. Rocky soil—they receive the Word, but a lack of depth of their faith leads them to fall. These may also be those people who run after the latest “fad” and never staying with any teaching very long. Thorns—they hear the Word, but the worries of the world and desire for wealth and things choke out the Word in their lives and they are unfruitful. See 1 Cor. 3:15. Good ground—those who hear and welcome the Word produce much fruit.)
The path, rocky soil and thorns illustration is the very reason it is so important for new believers to be involved in Bible study and discipleship training. It is important to break up the soil and get deep roots as quickly as possible.
3. How does Jesus’ teaching about the seed spread on the path and warning about the rocky soil apply to our discipleship? (Given the activity of Satan, our own evangelistic activity must be at a high priority.)
Being a follower of Christ is more than an emotional experience. It is a life-long commitment to growing spiritually so we will be able to withstand the attacks of Satan.
4. How can we guard against the thorns of the world in your own lives? (We should be aware of that which causes us to take our eyes off of Christ and resist these things. Worry, wealth, and the desires of other worldly things threaten to keep us from fruitfulness and may choke out our desire for a deeper walk with Jesus.)
5. What should we make of the varying amounts listed in verse 8? (There are approximately 50 kernels-seeds in a head of wheat.)
6. Do our specific amounts of fruitfulness affect our value before God? (Our value before God is based on who Jesus is and our union with Him by faith. The point is not that more is better, but that the desire should be fruit. We can’t always control how fruitful our efforts will be, but we should desire to be fruitful. If our faith is genuine, fruit will be produced for God’s glory.)
7. What principles for sharing spiritual truth can be found in this parable? (The more we spread the gospel, the more likely we are to see fruit. We shouldn’t worry about the soil where we sow the Word. We don’t really know a person’s heart, that is God’s area of expertise. Our job is to simply sow the Word!)
8. How can believers follow these principles in today’s world?
9. How did Jesus experience the truth of this parable in this setting?
10. Generally what has the farmer done prior to sowing the seed? (He has prepared the soil to receive the seed.)
11. How can we prepare a person’s heart to receive the Word?
A Reason! Read Matthew 13:10-13
In a sense, the Truth of the Gospel had been hidden in the Old Testament writings all along but now Jesus had come to reveal them. Some of the people and leaders had closed minds to the Truth Jesus taught.
1. How was Jesus’ use of parables fair for all who heard them? (Jesus explained that those who were willing to believe could understand the truth—while at the same time, those who were unwilling to believe might have the truth concealed.)
2. What do you understand to be the meaning of verse 12? (Those who are willing to hear with faith will receive more faith and will grow in their understanding. Those unwilling to hear with faith will continue to wallow in their unbelief, their blindness ever increasing. Faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed will grow, but you must have faith to start with.)
For those willing to hear with faith, the truth will be open to them; for those who refuse to hear with faith, the truth will become even more obscure.
3. What explanations might be given for why some hearers of the Word of God do not give evidence of understanding it and letting it make a difference in their lives? (What will I have to give up? I could never live up to those standards. How can salvation be free, there must be something I have to do!)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What are some stories used to make the gospel clearer to those who are seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ?
2. Why are these stories effective in teaching spiritual truths?
3. What role does your personal story (testimony) play in pointing others to the gospel of Jesus?
4. Who around you might represent the various types of soil that Jesus mentioned in His parable of the sower?
5. How are you responding to the Word of God you hear?
Even after we’ve accepted Christ there are areas of our lives that God seeks further surrender to Him on our part. We must be careful that we don’t allow Satan to steal the Word of God away from us, or accept it temporarily only to fall away from our commitment, or allow the cares of this world to choke out our commitment.
6. How can we hold each other accountable for sharing spiritual truth with others?
7. How can we hold each other accountable for growing deeper in our faith and God’s Word?
Pray that God will make us better hearers and doers of the Word of God!
The Parable of the Sower
Matthew 13:1-23 (HCSB)
1 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 Such large crowds gathered around Him that he got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.
3Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.”
…19 “When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path.”
5 “Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. 6But when the sun came up they were scorched, ands since they had no root, they withered.”
…20 “And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
7 “Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them.”
…22 “Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
8 “Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.”
…23 “But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”
9 “Anyone who has ears should listen!”