Parables: See, Hear, and Understand
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”  And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:10-13 ESV)
In the first season of “Duck Dynasty,” the Robertsons waged war on beavers disrupting the water supply and hunted bullfrogs on a golf course. The Robertson women sold some of the men’s prized possessions in a yard sale, while their bearded spouses hatched a plan to build a luxury duck blind in the sky and tried to suck bees out of a honey-filled hive with a portable vacuum cleaner.
Amid the humorous misadventures, a few glimpses of the family’s faith survived. In one episode, Kay told Phil that it was his Christian duty to babysit his granddaughters. In another, Phil urged one of his grandsons to find a woman who knows how to cook, lives by her Bible and loves to eat bullfrogs. In still another episode, Si said that he always travels with three things: a gallon jug of iced tea, his plastic cup, and his Bible. One scene found Phil relaxing in his easy chair, his Bible open on his lap, as he prepared to preach. “Duck Commander Sunday is basically a redneck rendition of fearing God, loving your neighbor,” Phil said on that episode. “We all sing church songs, everybody’s wearing camo, and everybody’s happy, happy, happy.”
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.  And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.  And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)
The Robertsons are sowers in a field that has a multitude of soils. On a typical Wednesday night, over two million people are watching the amplified version of this faithful family’s life. In this interview, from the Christian Chronicle, more than one family member mentions how much of their gospel message finds its way to the cutting room floor. They are all too aware that much of their seed falls on the path.
What are your initial thoughts about the parable of the sower?
How have you been doing with the interpretation of parables?
This week we will let Jesus explain the deeper meaning.
“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23 ESV)
The Symbols Used
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,  and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. (Matthew 13:37-39 ESV)
- An explanation.
Jesus explains the symbols for us.
- The man is Christ (Mat. 13:37).
- The seed is believers, children of the kingdom (Mat. 13:38).
- The field is the world (Mat. 13:38).
- The enemy is Satan (Mat. 13:39).
- The tares are the children of the devil (Mat. 13:38).
- The reapers are angels (Mat. 13:39).
- The harvest is the end of the age (Mat. 13:39).
2. A word of warning.
Be careful in interpretation here. Don’t confuse these symbols with those used in the Parable of the Sower. In the Parable of the Sower, the seed represents the Word of God, and the soil represents different kinds of hearts.
|IN THE INDIVIDUAL||Point of attack||IN THE WORLD|
|Parable of Sower||THE SEED||Tares, Mustard Seed, Leaven|
|1. Snatches the seed||1. Plants counterfeit seed — TARES|
|2. Starves the plant — it can not grow||THE GROWTH||2. Allows the plant to grow out of measure — MUSTARD SEED|
|3. Smothers the fruit — “becomes unfruitful”||THE FRUIT||3. Injects false doctrine — LEAVEN within the meal — made from seed|
3. The main lesson.
Wherever Christ “plants” true believers to bear fruit for His glory, Satan plants false Christians who oppose the work and hinder the harvest. Christians are seeds, and the kingdom of heaven is a mixture of the true seed (Christians) and the counterfeit (children of the devil).
Take time to discuss your experiences with sowing the Gospel message. Consider where you spend your time. Do you tend to hang out in a garden that’s already planted and growing? Are you sowing new ground?
Even before “Duck Dynasty,” Phil Robertson developed a wide following for his powerful, revivalist-style gospel preaching. He talks about ducks. He shares Jesus.
As the show has gained popularity, though, crowds once in the hundreds have swelled into the thousands, Kay Robertson said. Phil Robertson said he and his sons Al and Jase preach the same message of faith, repentance, and baptism wherever they’re invited.
“We don’t have godly people and followers of Jesus owning the channel that we’re on or filming what we do,” Phil said. “So what you see (on TV) is a functional, godly family, but there’s not a whole lot of Gospel and Bible verses.
“However, the audience … can be reached in other ways than the TV show,” he added. “We’re going to be making a Robertson family tour. You’ll see the real family when you get us in some arena somewhere and it’s just us telling people the good news of Jesus.
“People just have to realize that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” [Or sow a seed.]