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Today’s slice of the Bread of Life, the Word of God, comes from Matthew 13:3-9:
Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
An explanation is given in 13:10:
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.
During World War II the city of Palermo, Sicily, a military objective of the Allied Powers, was to be bombed by the American Air Force. To warn the Sicilians, telling them to flee, thousands of pamphlets were dropped on the city beforehand, but the citizens simply did not believe the warning. They listened, but they did not hear! When the American planes came and dropped their bombs, hundreds of Sicilians were killed; in fact, in some dead hands were found the very pages urging them to leave the city.
Listening without hearing is also what Jesus refers to in the Parable of the Soils – a parable about how frequently the seed of God’s Word is destroyed by preoccupied hearts, by lethargic hearts, by divided hearts. He tells them that not everybody who listens actually hears!
Just to refresh ourselves with the parable – the sower is God, the seed is God’s Word, the place where the seed falls is the heart of man. “Some seeds fell along the path.” Just who are “path-like” people? Path-like people, we might say in our language today, are people on the go.
Let’s look at the second soil. “A sower went out to sow and…other seeds fell on rocky ground…but since they had no root, they withered away.” Here is an uninvolved listener who does not realize that his reading, studying, and hearing the Word of God must be one of effort and involvement. He can’t be lethargic. His reading of the Word cannot be done like one might skim through a picture magazine or read a comic strip. When you listen to him, you are involved in the most important business of the universe, the salvation of your soul!
There is a third kind of soil: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some seeds…fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.” This is what a “thorn listerner” is. A “thorn listener” says: “I want God and his Word all right, but I want also the acclaim and pleasures of the world.” When we allow another priority to exist alongside the Word of God, the other priority will eventually win out.
And there is a fourth kind of soil! “A sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed, some fell…into soil and grew, and yielded a hundred-fold.”
Are you a listener or a hearer? Your salvation may depend on it…