Understanding the Truth of the Kingdom of God

Matthew 13:1-23

Jerry A Collins




v                 Do we need to understand in order to believe?

v                 What kind of heart will receive the truth?

v                 Why use parable to illustrate truth of God’s kingdom?


One of the most frustrating things about dealing with people is their lack of understanding or unwillingness to understand when it is in their own best interests to do so. Like students who sit in class and listen to a lecture—one they must know for a test or quiz—and simply do nothing. No notes, no interaction. No engagement. No understanding. People need to have an open heart to receive the information but it is just lacking. We can see the same in our kids or our mate or people at work. Unable and unwilling to hear, there is no possibility for understanding. And this is also true in the spiritual realm. God is not going to zap you with knowledge nor give you a spirit of comprehension. You must be willing to hear and receive the Word or else you cannot gain understanding about the nature and work of the kingdom of God. Since the opposition to Jesus has increased, and rejection of Jesus has crested, Jesus began to teach the people in parables as vs 3 indicates. The disciples noticed the change in strategy and questioned about it in vs 10. A parable is a story or figure which a moral or spiritual truth is illustrated by an analogy drawn from everyday experiences. The story illustrates the main point—the story is not the main point. We must look for the truth illustrated within the context of the story. The points or truths in these stories are also called mysteries in vs 11 because they were not revealed in the Old Testament. So this chapter is a watershed in Christ’s ministry because He is now giving the disciples parables for the church age they were going to go into. There are seven parables in this chapter as noted and concluded in vs 53. So we are going to study the first of these parables which is the parable of the four different soils.


Setting  Matthew tells us that on that day vs 1 which links these parables with events in chp 12—the opposition arguments. The reference to went out of the house connects this to events at the end of chp 12—vss 46-50. The point: in view of the conflicts Jesus now begins to use parables more often. The parable begins in vs 3. The players are the sower—Jesus Christ or a disciple of Jesus; the seed—the Word of God and message of the kingdom of God. But the variable is the soils! The point is understanding the kingdom of Godvss 18-23. There are four kinds of soil the sower is sowing the seed upon.

1. 3-4 The first soil is hard soil—crusted soil beaten down beside the road. It is soil already used for something else and the seed cannot penetrate it for any other kind of use. It’s like falling on cement. The seed sits there only to be eaten by the birds. So there are hearts who unconcerned and indifferent about their spiritual need will be hardhearted about the message of God’s kingdom.

2. 5-6 The second soil may look good on the surface but just underneath are beds of solid rock. The seeds spring up immediately in the shallow ground for a brief period but then the heat of the sun scorches it because the roots cannot get deep enough for nourishment.

3. 7 The third soil is the weedy soil. After this ground is cultivated it looks good. But when the grain sprouts so too the thorns that take up the space and choke the good seed. Again, understanding is thwarted.

4. 8 The fourth soil is the good soil prepared, and ready to receive the truth and able to understand it. With sufficient depth and free of weeds, it yields a crop according to it’s capacity. Jesus then warns that this needs careful interpretation and more than ordinary listening to understand vs 9.

A. We need to sow the seed of the Word. There will be results for sure but that depends on the quality of the heart of those who hear that Word. Some will reject, some accept and some even bear fruit because of it. Our job is to give the Word.

B. We cannot know the heart condition of the hearers nor should we guess at that. Only God knows.

C. We cannot convince people intellectually of the truth and their need for Jesus Christ. Their hearts must be prepared and ready to receive that word before it can penetrate and change their lives.


The new teaching method prompted the disciples question in vs 10. There  is  a  contrast  between   the crowd and the disciples. To the crowd Jesus began teaching in parables. To the disciples understanding and the difference was the disciples follow Jesus in faith while the crowds reject him vs 10. The outcome is in vs 12—they have an understanding and will receive more. The crowd doesn’t and what little they have will be taken from them. This is why he speaks in parables vs 13. The crowds lack understanding. These crowds have hard and dull hearts just as their ancestors in Isaiah’s day vs 14-15. 700 yrs earlier those people had dull senses toward God because they had constantly resisted Him, and hardened themselves to His word and ways. God will only put up with that for so long before he lets you fully pursue your resistant way. With this passage, Jesus is saying, the crowds stand in the same tradition as the willfully blind ancestors. The disciples stand in the tradition of the prophets and the righteous ones of the OT vs 16. The disciples heard more, comprehended more, and had more revelation than even the righteous before them vs 17. Parables would not stand in the way of their comprehension but would keep the rebellious from doing so since their resistance has no crescendoed. There comes a time when judgment comes in the form of letting you have what you want—when the grace and mercy of God comes to an end. That has now happened. Religion like that of the Pharisees dulls the heart—which is our moral and spiritual sensitivity. Once that happens there is no understanding of the things of God.


We learn that understanding the kingdom of God is under pressure to develop because of the difficult times and difficult people.

1. Some hear the truth 19. If they fail to receive it like a patch of hardened ground unable to absorb the seed—spiritually speaking Satan steals that opportunity and further ones to hinder penetration. So Satan is active in resisting the truth.

2. Some hear the truth with great joy but like rocky soil their hearts respond superficially and time reveals there were no roots thus no understanding 20-21. Under external pressures, the initial reception of truth quickly disappears.

3. Others hear the truth but cannot endure internal suffering and has 2 problems; 1) the worries—when I do not believe God has my best interest in mind or He is not in control of my circumstances. 2) of the world and wealth of the world—the idea that I would be better off if I had more wealth vs 22. These keep understanding from rooting. They would have to give up too much to commit to what the kingdom of God requires.

4. The good soil receives the word by faith and the message having taken root now begins to gradually grow and produce results in varying quantities vs 23. A good ground and a good crop will follow._____________

A. The evidence of those who receive the Word by faith is changed lives that produce righteousness.  B. The advance of the kingdom—the spiritual life—is not instant but over time. It makes continual progress.

C. Our task to know and present the message clearly and well.