Matthew 13:44-46

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Matthew 13

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Finding or burying treasures in fields is a common occurrence in films. Off the top of my head I think of “The Shawshank Redemption” and the treasure Andy buried in Buxton, Maine, in a hayfield that Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, later digs up. I think of “Fargo” and the money that Steve Buscemi’s character buries in the snowy field with the intention of coming back later to retrieve it. And I think of the Coen brothers’ film “No Country for Old Men” when Llewelyn finds the briefcase of money in the field.

What is interesting about those examples is that, in two of the three, the money is a negative reality that both results from and leads to crime and violence and bloodshed. Only in “The Shawshank Redemption” is the money buried in the field eventually recovered to good effect.

Apparently these kinds of stories were very popular two thousand years ago as well! The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary reports:

Treasures were often hidden in fields, because there were no formal banks as we know them today. The intriguing Copper Scroll found at Qumran lists sixty-four places in Palestine where treasures were supposed to be hidden: e.g., “In the ruin which is in the valley, pass under the steps leading to the East forty cubits…[there is] a chest of money and its total: the weight of seventeen talents…”[1]

Jesus told two stories about treasures, one buried in a field and another discovered by a merchant. In both of Jesus’ stories the treasures are positives. In fact, the treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven that is more valuable than anything else we have and that, when grasped, leads ultimately to joy and to life.

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Revelation 10

Revelation

Revelation 10

1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five is a truly odd and wonderful piece of fiction. There is a scene in it in which aliens called the Tralfamadorians struggle to understand what time is for human beings. In describing this scene, Vonnegut crafts a truly memorable picture of our human limitations in perceiving reality. Here, the aliens are observing the human, Billy Pilgrim, who is being held in an alien zoo and observed by an alien crowd of onlookers.

There was a lot that Billy said that was gibberish to the Tralfamadorians, too. They couldn’t imagine what time looked like to him. Billy had given up on explaining that. The guide outside had to explain as best he could.

The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe.

This was only the beginning of Billy’s miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, and there was no way he could turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the little dot at the end of the pipe. He didn’t know he was on a flatcar, didn’t even know there was anything peculiar about his situation.

The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped—went uphill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life.”[1]

What a fascinating picture! We perceive reality, Vonnegut says, not by seeing the big picture but by being like a man on a train whose head is in a sphere and who can only look out through one little hole in the sphere down six feet of pipe which is itself bolted to the bed of the train car. So what we see is just the tiniest most miniscule perception of reality as it comes shooting past us on the train of life.

What an image! The Apostle Paul said something similar, though far less dramatic, when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13.

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Notice that Paul agrees with Vonnegut on the limitations of human knowledge. We see “in a mirror dimly” and we “know in part.”

But Paul adds something. Paul says that, because of Christ, we will be able to see more and more until we can see with perfect clarity when he comes.

In Revelation 10 we find a fascinating scene, another interlude in the action (this time between trumpets 6 and 7) which says something about time, about reality, and about our perception of it. In chapter 10, some things are hidden, some things are clear, but the picture begins to emerge more and more.

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Matthew 13:31-35

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Matthew 13

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” 34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

I used to pastor in a city that has within it a very famous Southern Baptist megachurch. This place was huge…as in huge! I pastored a small church just out of seminary about one mile from this church. The pastor of this church was nothing but kind to me and they had, by all accounts, a strong and vibrant ministry.

Across the street from this church was a very small house church. It was basically a house with a little steeple on it. It was literally across the street and, when you drove between the two—the megachurch on one side and the little tiny church on the other—you could not help but take note of the contrast.

One day the megachurch had a conference for pastors. I did not go but a friend of mine did. The visiting speaker (not, I hasten to add, the megachurch’s pastor) decided to make a point about success. “Look at this amazing church we are in!” he said. “Look at how God has blessed this church! Look at the thousands of people who come here each week! Look at the countless teams of missionaries that go out from this church to reach the world! Look at the reach and influence of this church!” Then he paused and continued: “And then look across the street at that other church. It is small. It is tiny.” He continued to point out the difference.

In the middle of his words a person stood up near the front of the church, turned, and walked out. It was the little church’s pastor. I was not even there and I still cringe to think of this! How embarrassing…for the speaker! How shortsighted! How foolish! How very, very wrong!

In Matthew 13:31-35 Jesus tells two brief parables, both of which honor the small and the seemingly insignificant…both of which tell of the great things God is able to accomplish through humble things.

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Revelation 9

Revelation

Revelation 9

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. 7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. 12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. 13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

I love corny preacher jokes. They are almost as enjoyable as corny dad jokes. Here is one I heard some years back:

A priest and a pastor from one of the local churches were standing by the side of the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that read:

“The End is Near! Turn Yourself Around Now! Before It’s Too Late!”

As a car sped past them, the driver yelled, “Leave us alone, you religious fanatics!”

From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.

The pastor turned to the priest and asked, “Do you think the sign should just say, ‘Bridge Out’?”

At the least that deserves a polite chuckle, no? Ha! But it does make a valid point: human beings have an unbelievable ability to ignore and mock warnings only to plunge into destruction. Amazingly, tragically, this is the picture we find in Revelation 9 with the blowing of trumpets 6 and 7.

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Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43

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Matthew 13

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

There was a bit of a scandal in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo when a French marathon runner named Morhad Amdouni appeared in a video to be knocking down all of the water bottles on the front of a table while running past it so that no other runners behind him could get any. He was quickly condemned by many and was defended by a few. Some days after the incident Amdouni addressed the issue and claimed that the bottles were slippery and he was not trying to knock them all down. You can go watch the video for yourself and form your own opinion. I will simply say that the video is not a good look for Mr. Amdouni.

The outrage over the act—intentional or not—can be attributed to the apparent cruelty of it. “Temperatures were hovering around 30C and humidity levels hit more than 80%, meaning conditions were tough for the runners,” Yahoo News reported.[1] In other words, the video appeared to show Amdouni intentionally sabotaging a critically important hydration station simply so that the other runners could not drink.

As we come to Jesus’ next parable it is hard not to think of this recent scandal. Jesus sows good seed into the world and the devil, vicious and cruel, runs by and seeks to destroy the crop of the Kingdom with the weeds of his own wickedness. There is a legitimate question over whether or not the French runner did what he did on purpose. There can be no doubt that the devil does what he does on purpose. The devil is always running by the table and knocking over what God intends to bring life and vitality to the world. He is always seeking to ruin what should be a source of goodness and hope.

Let us consider the words of Jesus. He presents the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 and He explains it in 13:36-43. We will work through each part of the parable along with its explanation as we go.

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Revelation 8:6-13

Revelation

Revelation 8

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. 12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. 13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

In 2003 a recording of Johnny Cash’s rendition of the song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” was released. It has since become very popular. The song itself predates Cash’s version of it and was first recorded in 1937. It is a fascinating song that simply depicts the judgment of God coming upon the world. Here are the lyrics of the Cash version:

… Oh my God

… You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

… Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

… Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
I’ve been down on bended knee
Talkin’ to the man from Galilee

… He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John, go do my will!”

chorus

… Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light

… You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

… Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down

… Oh yeah
Cut him down
Cut him down
Cut him down

It strikes me that this kind of talk about God is increasingly unpopular. Maybe, at some points in the past, the church overemphasized judgment to the exclusion of God’s mercy. The opposite is probably the case in our day. Of course, the correct approach is to emphasize both. God is perfect in all of His attributes, which includes both His judgment and His mercy. But as we progress through Revelation we are likely going to experience a jolt at the course correction it offers a lot of modern theology, for Revelation does indeed depict the wrath of God coming upon the earth. With the blowing of the trumpets, we begin to see this in chilling detail.

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Revelation 8:1-5

Revelation

Revelation 8

1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

There is one very famous piano piece that I can play and I can play it just as well and as powerfully as the one who wrote it. John Cage composed the piece in 1952. It is entitled 4’33”.

Please understand that I am not exaggerating. I really can play 4’33” as well as John Cage. This piece has been performed with either just a piano or with a full orchestra and it has been performed in music halls over the years both large and small.

And I can play it. Perfectly. I mean that literally.

4’33” is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of…silence. Here is a description of the premier of the piece.

The premiere of the three-movement 4′33″ was given by David Tudor on August 29, 1952, in Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, New York, as part of a recital of contemporary piano music. The audience saw him sit at the piano and, to mark the beginning of the piece, close the keyboard lid. Some time later he opened it briefly, to mark the end of the first movement. This process was repeated for the second and third movements.[1]

You can see various renditions of Cage’s 4’33” on YouTube. In all of them, if they are faithful to Cage’s instructions, the pianist sits in silence before his or her instrument for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Then the piece is over.

It is an interesting idea and very much in line with the odd person that was John Cage. But there may be some truth in it. The Christian musician John Michael Talbot has argued that the space between the notes is as important as the notes in a song, that the silence is as important as the sounds. That too is likely the case.

Regardless, the fact remains that people by and large do not know what to do with silence, especially when they expect sound. To watch an entire performance of Cage’s 4’33” is to prove that point. It is a strange and uncomfortable experience and I would encourage you to do it!

It is said that 4’33” was Cage’s most controversial piece. I can imagine why! But this much is certain: it is not the most controversial example of silence ever. That might go to the first verse of Revelation 8 which depicts silence in Heaven….for around 30 minutes!

What can this mean? Why does Heaven sit silently for thirty minutes when so much (a) has happened leading up to this moment and (b) is about to happen after it?

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Matthew 13:10-17

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Matthew 13

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

In the middle of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds—right between the parable itself and His explanation of it—Jesus offers an explanation of why He tells parables at all. His words are fascinating and illuminating and, in many ways, just as enigmatic as some of the parables He tells. Yet, they shed valuable light on the nature of the Kingdom and of salvation and how some hearts have receptive soil and others are just rocky ground.

In His explanation, Jesus speaks of two groups, one of which is blind and deaf to spiritual things and the other of which can see and hear what He is saying. These two groups will form our two points of consideration.

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Revelation 7:9-17

Revelation

Revelation 7

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

I still chuckle when I think about something my brother Condy told me thirty years ago. It was after a high school football game. Our team, the mighty fighting Thomas Sumter Academy Generals of Dalzell, SC, had just finished a tight game that came down to the last second. The game ended and Condy and one his friends were walking to his car behind the school when he heard a noise coming from the bushes. He stopped and looked and there was one of our star players sitting in the bushes crying. My brother said (and I will change his name here because if this guy is as big now as he was then, I do not want him to know that I talked about this!), “Bob, what is wrong? Why are you crying, man?” Bob, sitting in his football pads, his head in his hands, crying, said, “We lost! We lost! I can’t believe we lost!”

My brother said, “What?”

He said, “We lost! We lost the game!”

My brother paused and said. “Bob, we did not lose. We won! We won!”

Bob looked up. “What? We won?!”

Condy said, “Yeah, we won. Bob!” And my brother’s friend added, “You ran in the winning touchdown!”

Bob, God bless him, stood up, his face now transformed into one of joy, picked Condy up and hugged him tight and said, “We won! We won! We won!” And then ran off celebrating into the distance.

As I say, I still laugh about this. Bob was a great football player, but he was not necessarily a…well, anyway, he may hear this after all, so let us just leave it at that.

It is amazing how the knowledge of victory can pull us from sorry to joy, from despair to jubilation, from depression to happiness! I think this is a word we need to hear, and I think that this is one of the great points of the amazing interlude that is Revelation 7.

Church, lift up your heads! Stop weeping! Stop despairing! The Lamb has won! The Lamb will win! And we who are on His team will win through Him!

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Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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Matthew 13

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.”

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 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. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 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. 22 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. 23 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.”

David Platt has mentioned a fascinating little story from the life of the great evangelist of yesteryear, George Whitfield.

George Whitfield, the passionate and powerful preacher of the First Great Awakening, used to preach to massive crowds numbering in the thousands, and people were greatly affected by his evangelistic message. When Whitfield was asked how many people were saved, he would say, “We’ll see in a few years.”[1]

What strikes me about this answer is (1) how very different it is from the very certain announcement of numbers that we get from many of our evangelists today and (2) how wise this response is in light of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds. It is not that we should be skeptical of those who profess Christ. Rather, Whitfield’s response is, in my opinion, a simple affirmation of an abundantly evident truth: sometimes those who profess Christ end up revealing that they never truly took hold of Him.

Again, Jesus said as much in Matthew 13 in words that are sobering and critically important in our day.

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