What is the Kingdom of Heaven Like?
Feel free to use any or all of the concepts found in this article for your pulpit ministries or other type of Divine Kingdom sharing as the Holy Spirit leads. Please do not misuse these concepts.
THE WISDOM OF THE SOWER
At a particular important juncture in the ministry of Jesus as is recorded in the chronological settings of the Gospels, our Savior puts forth a parable that considered vitally important to understand. In fact, Jesus was so emphatic about its importance to be understood that HE declared it to be the key for understanding all of HIS parables and teachings. Jesus declared that the difference maker for understanding the operations of the Divine Kingdom in the earth realm. To know the the depth of revelation involved in this parable is to know for a certainty the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven. This parable is recorded in three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) of the four Gospels as it is remembered well by the disciples because of the great significance that Jesus placed upon it.
It is speculated that John did not list this parable because of his knowing that it was already covered by the other Gospel writers and because his emphasis was upon the person of Jesus as the Son of God.
This parable was given to the masses of people who came miles away from various cities of Israel to hear Jesus teach and witness HIS miracles.
This was at the highest point of HIS popularity with the people. As Jesus presented this parable with several others in the interest of describing the Divine Kingdom, HIS location for teaching was a sitting position in a boat by the seashore of Galilee.
This parable has been commonly known as the parable of the sower; although, that label did not come from Jesus. It was added much later. In fact, it was added by writers several centuries later than the original manuscripts and the completed canon of the New Testament. These subtitles for the sections of the Bible are not necessarily divinely inspired as are the original writings of Holy Writ. Therefore, the subtitles are subject to review and improvement. A study reference book in my library entitled:
A HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS gives the subtitle to this parable as: The Parable of the Soils. (Note: This book was published by Moody Press in Chicago, Illinois and co-authored by Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry.) It is the view of this author that this just mentioned subtitle is more in keeping with what Jesus was communicating at that particular time. Another possible subtitle might be: The Parable of the Grounds.
Even though the popularity of Jesus was at its highest peak at this time, the motivations of the people gathered to HIM was not of the purest intentions overall. Jesus knew this as indicated by John 2:24. It reads:
“But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men.” In Mark 4:11, Matthew 13:11, and Luke 8:10: it is recorded that Jesus had indicated that HIS disciples were allowed to understand this parable that would then enable them to understand the mysteries of the Divine Kingdom operating in the earth realm. This is in contrast to what was happening to the masses of people that had come to hear HIM. They were not allowed to fully understand at that time. Jesus seemed to be concerned about the people entering into a partial state of repentance as contrasted with a full repentance. Therefore, HE constantly spoke to them in parables. For verification of this, see Mark 4:11-12. It reads: “…To you (My disciples) it has been given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but to those, who are outside, all things (I say unto them) come in parables.” (This is done so that) “seeing they may see and not perceive. And hearing, they may hear and (yet) not understand. Lest, they should turn; and (therefore), their sins be forgiven.” This latter portion was an usage of what is from the Old Testament as in Isaiah 6:9-10. This scriptural passage just cited was a responsive answer from Jesus in reply to this question from HIS
disciples: “Why do you speak to them in parables?”, as recorded in Matthew 13:10.
What did Jesus do about this less than ideal situation with the people in the masses of those gathered to hear HIM teach and witness HIS miracles? The answer is that HE kept working the grounds in preparation for the planting of HIS seed. What was HIS primary seed investment to be planted? The answer is that it was HIS sacrificial death on the cross that satisfied the Heavenly Father’s demand for payment for the sins of all humanity. Jesus referred to HIS death on the cross as a seed planting investment that would bear much fruit, as in John 12:24. It reads: “Most assuredly, I say to you; unless a grain (portion bearing seed) of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain.” The grain of wheat bearing seed must be planted in the ground (a form of dying) in order for there to be much of a harvest of wheat. Concerning this act of planting HIMSELF for a future harvest as a grain seed of wheat would be planted in the natural realm, Jesus said that this had to do with the hour that had come for the Son of Man to be glorified. HIS comments here were in response to the news that certain Greeks had said to HIS disciples, “Sirs, we wish to see Jesus.” How do the words of Jesus fit as a response to this stated desire by the Greeks? It fits perfectly; however, it does not fit according to the natural mind.
To truly see Jesus in all HIS glory is to see HIS harvest and appearing in HIS ecclesia that would come later after HIS death, resurrection, literal ascension, heavenly glorification, and pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
Timing is of great critical essence to the wise sower who intends to prosper. A knowledgeable sower certainly would not want to sow a seed in the early winter days. To do so would be to expose the young seedling that is just breaking out of the ground to freezing elements that it is not genetically adapted to deal with. In the same way, Christ Jesus (God, the
Son) came in the flesh, ministered publicly for 3 &1/2 years, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and ascended to heaven all in due season for the greatest opportunities possible for the New Covenant gospel and the Body of Christ to prevail mightily. That is exactly what the Holy Bible indicates in Galatians 4:4. It reads: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth HIS Son…”.
The wisdom of the sower includes the knowledge, foresight, and patience to appropriately prepare the ground for seeding. A seasoned farmer does not randomly scatter seed over all kinds of grounds, both prepared and unprepared. Certainly, that experienced farmer would not deliberately cast seed upon rocky ground or upon soil that is covered with thorns or outside the place of his cultivated preparations (“by the waysides”). That is why the telling of this parable must have been difficult for many of the farmers in the crowd to identify with. However, there is the rare event of the blowing of the seed out of the hand of the sower. In the spiritual realm, this equates to the principle of overflow caused by the excitement of the power of the gospel declared plus confirmed by Holy Spirit providing miracles and healings. There is no apology needed for this excitement causing the principle of overflow. The good news should be exciting in both word and demonstration. Because Jesus understood all these things, HE would not commit HIMSELF to the masses that had gathered to hear and see HIM. Instead, HE made it HIS highest priority to prepare HIS disciples for ministerial leadership. Because of this priority upon HIS disciples, HE often avoided the crowds to have more time for them.
Now, it is time for a reading of this parable. We start with verse three of Mark chapter 4 and conclude at verse 8. It reads:”Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed; that some seed fell by the wayside and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth. Immediately, it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up, it was scorched. And because it had no root, it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns. And the thorns grew up and choked it so that it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up then increased and produced; some thirty fold, some sixty, and some a hundred”.
The scattering of seed onto rocky ground, thorny terrain, and the waysides was not done by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Matthew 13:37 tells us that “he who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” Jesus refers to HIMSELF as “the Son of Man” several times. Is it possible that we could rightfully understand Matthew 13:37 to say that Jesus is the sower who sows the good seed effectively at the right times? This author thinks that is definitely so and would be surprised by those who would disagree. We would then say that Jesus presented HIMSELF and HIS messages at the proper time; yet, the grounds (the conditions of the hearts of the people) were still not ready for proper growth to yield 30, 60, & 100 fold returns.
Matthew 13:37 fits into another similar parable in that it has a sower of seed and a good field to put it in. It is the viewpoint of this author that both parables deal with the same element of difficulty. That element is the neglect and sleepy condition of the workers of the field (religious leaders). These workers of the field did not properly prepare the fields for the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. Therefore, the hearts of the people under their leadership were not prepared to capitalize on the seed that was given by the wisest of all sowers. The Divine Godhead could not indefinitely put off bringing forth the New Covenant provisions; therefore, it had to be presented at the greatest opportune time yet in conditions that were less than divinely ideal. In some aspects, the religious elders of Israel had made the Word of God of none effect because of their traditional teachings added as a commentary to the Scriptures. This was testified to as a reality by Jesus, as in Mark 7:13, Even with that reality being true, the soil (hearts) within the nation of Israel was better prepared for the Word of God from Jesus at that time than any other nation and perhaps, better prepared than other generations of its own Israelite people.
Therefore, the Eternal Son of God came knowing wherein the ground was prepared and where it was not. To start with, HE chose twelve disciples that had not been heavily indoctrinated by the teachings of their national priesthood. Jesus chose these twelve men from common professions (none of them was a candidate for the priesthood) so their minds and hearts could be shaped by HIMSELF in order to understand and operate the mysteries of The Divine Kingdom by revelation of the Holy Spirit. The only other option was to not come as the ONE that was tabernacled in flesh; which was clearly an unacceptable option ..since the need of humanity was so dreadful.
What about the crowds that Jesus was willing to minister to at times during HIS public ministry? First of all, the compassionate heart of Jesus compelled HIM to minister to the multitudes of Israelites and once to a crowd of Samaritans. However, Jesus was very circumspect in being watchful about how HE communicated to the multitudes as evident by choosing to speak to them in parables that many of them would understand later. Sometimes, they would depart from HIM because of what HE would teach them. Jesus spoke to them in such a way as to help them in their future when their heart repentance had come to full completion. Secondly, Jesus ministered to the crowds to set an example for HIS disciples as to how to minister to the masses. It was a part of HIS mentoring program for them. Otherwise, they would never know how to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit to the masses. HIS priority was always upon HIS disciples.
Jesus declared that HIS personal assignment from HIS Heavenly Father was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; however, HE wonderfully prepared HIS disciples for ministry to peoples from all the racial makeups.
Jesus was not a racial supremacist about HIS own race; rather, HE was a God man with better understanding than we have about the need for order in the harvests and the need for soil(heart) preparations.
With as much preparation that the Divine Godhead has given to prepare the soils(hearts) for seeding; should not we reciprocate? Surely, you would agree with the strongest yes possible.
For now, let us assess the present situation within professing Christendom. First of all, it is as Jesus described it would be in the parable known as The Parable of the Wheat and Tares as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 37-43. There must now be a radical change for righteousness brought about special angels (messengers) at the end of the age. At that time, there will be a burning fiery furnace for those things that offend (including false doctrines) and for those who practice lawlessness. It is believed by many of us that the end of the age that Jesus was referring to is now and that there will be a divine action to separate the tares from the wheat to be burned. Is it possible that this is the time to “clean it up” and “get back to the roots” of how Jesus the Christ ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that we (ministerial leaders) are so overly concerned about our public ministries and having large crowds that we have lost the proper focus on the discipleship of men? Have we forgotten that The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 from Jesus is primarily a commandment for discipleship that, of course, includes the ministry of evangelism? How can we disciple if we ourselves have not been deeply discipled in the courtship of Jesus in our personal prayer times?
Are these conditions in professing Christendom the Lord’s fault? No, it is not HIS fault. Not at all. Absolutely not. In fact, HE gave us as the Body of Christ a tremendous beginning boost in the 1st Century of the New Covenant and has since caused geysers of renewal to break forth at the most opportune times in the past.
As we bring this article to a close, we leave you with these sober questions and thoughts for your considerations. We pray that you give them much prayerful and thoughtful reflection.
PRAYER; Heavenly Father, we have been presented with a formidable challenge to believe for a radical cleansing among those professing to be Christians. Some of us may be charged by YOU to step out and minister in places where we would not normally choose to do so in order that YOUR righteousness might prevail in quarters where it had not prevailed before.
Empower us by the boldness from the baptism in the Holy Ghost with fire to do what we must do. Help us to be wise as the Master Sower known to us as Jesus and not cast our pearls before swine. This is what we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.
This article was written by Kent Fowler, Evangelist, from the city of Carrollton in the state of Texas of the United States of America.