By Allen White
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. Matthew 13:1-13
Why did the disciples receive the secrets of the kingdom, but not the crowd? The disciples asked. The crowd didn’t.
The crowd heard an interesting story and went home. The disciples stayed and asked. Jesus gave them the kingdom. The crowd didn’t get it. The disciples would end up with abundance. The crowd would be left with scarcity.
The crowd didn’t hear or understand. We might think, “That’s unfair.” Let me remind you, we don’t want fair when it comes to spiritual things. Fair means we are punished for all of our sins. Grace blows fairness off the map. Grace is undeserved. We need what we don’t deserve. We don’t need fair.
The crowd could have heard and understood, if they had stayed. They heard Jesus’ introduction, but they left before the points were made. Maybe they were confused. Maybe they weren’t interested. Maybe they had places to go.
Jesus wasn’t being exclusive as much as He was efficient. He taught the interested learners. Jesus didn’t case His pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). Just like He instructed the disciples to find the man of peace (read more here), Jesus wasn’t pulling the unripe fruit from the tree.
We have a choice with God and His Church – we can be part of the crowd or we can be disciples. We can take the message at face value or we can dig for its meaning for our lives. We can run out the door or we can stick around and build relationships. Better yet, we can get in a group where we have the time and space in our lives to see how God’s Word applies to us.
If you’re familiar with this chapter in Matthew’s Gospel, you know that in a couple of days we will get to the Jesus’ explanation of the parable. You and I understand what Jesus was talking about in the parable of the sower. We understand because the disciples stuck around to ask the question.
What do you need to ask? What are you just assuming? What do you know? What do you lack? How do you get what you need?
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