November 21, 2021 – Matthew 13

Lesson Date: November 21, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 13:1-23

AIM: To lead students to discover why Jesus taught in parables, and to examine themselves to determine which kind of “soil” best reflects the condition of their heart.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 13 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Locate the following items to bring to class: a brick, a pack of flower or vegetable seeds, and a flowerpot filled with rich, dark potting soil.  Place the brick and the flowerpot on a table at the front of the class.  Write the lesson title, “Why Did Jesus Teach in Parables?”, on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Hold up the seed packet and tell the students you want to plant some flowers or vegetables (whichever kind of seeds you have).  Tell them before you start the Bible lesson you need their advice about planting the seeds.  Pour a few seeds into your hand and tell the class you are not sure where you should plant them.

Point out the brick and the flowerpot.  Place a few seeds on the brick and ask the students if they think those seeds will germinate and grow into a plant (no).  Ask: “Why not?” (they have no soil from which to draw moisture and nutrients).  Take a few seeds and press them into the potting soil.  Ask: “Do you think the seeds will do better in the flowerpot full of rich soil?” (yes).  Ask them why (the seeds will have the moisture and nutrients needed to germinate and grow).

Tell the class the seeds are good and will germinate if placed in the proper conditions.  The same good seeds are in the pot and on the brick; the different results will be determined by where the seeds are placed.

Tell them in Matthew 13 Jesus used a similar illustration from nature to teach an important spiritual truth.  The title of today’s lesson is Why Did Jesus Teach in Parables?  We will find the answer to that question as we study Matthew 13.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the beginning of the plot to kill Jesus).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 11:29).
  2. The Setting.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 13:1-3a.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus left the house and went out and sat by the shore of the Sea of Galilee (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
      • Multitudes of people gathered around Him, so Jesus got into a fishing boat, which was then pushed out a short distance into the sea (Mark 4:1).
      • Jesus sat in the boat and the crowds stood on the shore. His voice reflected off the surface of the water, enabling the large crowd to hear.
      • Hs spoke many things to the crowd in parables.
    • Summarize: A large crowd followed Jesus to the seaside, where He taught them in parables.
  3. The Parable of the Soils.
    • Read Matthew 13:3b-9.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus said a farmer went out into the field to sow some seeds.
      • Rather than placing each seed in a separate hole, ancient farmers often planted by scattering (broadcasting) the seeds randomly over the ground, like you might do if you were re-seeding your grass.
      • The seeds the farmer scattered fell onto four different types of soil.
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, where did some of the seeds fall?” (on the wayside, the hard, packed-down edge of the roadway).
    • Tell the class this soil was about as receptive to the seeds as the brick on the table.
    • Ask: “What happened to those seeds?” (birds came and ate them).
    • Ask: “According to verses 5-6, where did some of the seeds fall?” (on stony ground, where there was only a thin layer of soil over the bedrock).
    • Ask: “What happened to those seeds?” (young plants sprang up, but they were scorched by the sun and died).
    • Tell the class this soil was receptive but there wasn’t enough depth to sustain life.
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, where did some of the seeds fall?” (on ground overgrown with thorns and weeds).
    • Ask: “What happened to those seeds?” (the thorns and weeds choked the life out of the young plants).
    • Explain that this soil was receptive but there were too many other plants taking up the available water, sunlight, and nutrients, so the young plants died.
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, where did some of the seeds fall?” (on good soil).
    • Tell the students this soil was like the pot of rich, dark potting soil on the table.
    • Ask: “What happened to those seeds?” (they sprang up, flourished, and produced lots of fruit).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell the people in verse 9?” (“If you have ears to hear then hear”).
    • Summarize: Jesus told the crowd a parable about a farmer who scattered seeds on four different types of soil.
  4. The Reason Jesus Taught in Parables.
    • Tell the class the disciples asked Jesus an important question.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 13:10.
    • Ask: “What was their question?” (“Why do you teach the people in parables?”).
    • Direct the students’ attention to that same question written on the board.
    • Tell the class Jesus answered their question in verses 11-17.
    • Read Matthew 13:11-17.
    • Tell the students verse 11 is a succinct answer to the question the disciples asked.
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus say He taught in parables?” (because the disciples were given the privilege of understanding the mysteries of the kingdom, but most of those in the crowd were not entrusted with that privilege).
    • Explain that the word mystery in the Bible refers to a spiritual truth previously hidden, but now revealed to those who belong to Jesus Christ.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about the spiritual perception of the people in verses 13-14?” (they see and hear but don’t really understand). He said their lack of spiritual comprehension was a fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isaiah 6:9-10.
    • Ask: “According to verse 15, what would happen if the people were receptive to and truly understood Jesus’ words?” (they would be converted and healed of their sin-sickness; in other words, they would be saved).
    • Explain that lack of spiritual understanding prevents people from being saved. That’s why we want to get lost people involved in Sunday School.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about how blessed the disciples were?” (He said they were blessed to see, hear, and understand; He said many prophets and righteous men down through the ages desired to see and hear the things they experienced, but did not get that privilege).
    • Summarize: Jesus taught in parables so spiritually minded people could understand and receive spiritual truth, but the others would not.
  5. The Parable Explained.
    • Tell the class in verses 18-23 Jesus clearly explained the meaning of the parable of the soils.
    • Tell them the seed represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the “word of the kingdom”) and the four types of soil represent the hearts of men.
    • Ask them to listen for the meaning of each soil as you read Matthew 13:18-23.
    • Ask: “According to verse 19, what kind of person is represented by the wayside?” (a hard-hearted, uninterested person who doesn’t even try to understand; the devil quickly snatches away whatever truth they hear).
    • Ask: “According to verses 20-21, what kind of person is represented by the stony ground?” (a person who receives some truth and endures “for a while,” but soon becomes offended and falls away).
    • Explain that this person is not genuinely saved: they try to live out their supposed “faith” in the strength of their flesh, but soon give up and fall away).
    • Ask: “According to verse 22, what kind of person is represented by the thorn-covered ground?” (a person who is too busy for a serious relationship with Jesus; one who has too many other things “on their plate” to live for God).
    • Ask: “According to verse 23, what kind of person is represented by the good ground?” (a person who hears, understands, and receives God’s Word, and is fruitful for the Lord).
    • Tell the class the people in this category have a genuine saving relationship with Christ; this is the only group of the four that is truly saved.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus described the condition of the hearts of people by describing four different types of soil.
      • Remember that the seed in all four cases was good and could have produced fruit.
      • The determining factor in each case was the type of soil the seed fell upon.
    • Summarize: The parable of the soils teaches that the receptiveness of the heart is what determines one’s response to the Gospel.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention once again to the brick and the pot of good potting soil.  Remind them that you have placed seeds on/in both.  Ask: “Which seeds will germinate and grow?” (those in the pot).  Tell them the ones on the brick don’t have a chance, because there is no soil in which they can germinate and grow.  Summarize the lesson by explaining the following:

  • When Jesus taught in parables, the people whose hearts were like good, rich soil received His words, learned, and grew.
  • Those people whose hearts were like a brick heard a nice story they could relate to, but learned nothing spiritually.
  • Rather than waste good seed on a bunch of spiritual “bricks,” Jesus used parables to invest truth in those who were willing to hear.

Remind the class that Jesus described four types of soil.  Ask the students to name those four types of soil (wayside, stony, thorny, and good), and then ask: “Which one of those soils best represents the condition of your heart?”

Explain the following:

  • Some of the people we invite to church or talk to about the Gospel are like that brick – nothing gets through to them.
  • Some people who come to church are like the stony ground – they are shallow and soon fall away. Our class roll contains many such persons.
  • Others are like the thorny ground – they start out eager and interested, but they are really too busy with the concerns of the world to be sold out to God. Some of those are on our class roll, too.
  • Thankfully, there are also some who are like the good ground – the Gospel seed has sprung up in their lives and they are bearing much fruit.

Tell the class that based on Jesus’ parable everyone in class today is like one of those four soils.

Ask: “Which type of soil are you?”  Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to examine themselves.  Tell them to ask God to make their hearts warm and receptive to His Word, just like warm, rich soil.  Tell them to ask God to help them grow in their understanding of His Word and be fruitful.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 11:30.  Tell them to thank God every day for revealing His truth to them, and encourage them to read the Bible daily so they can learn even more spiritual truths.  Give everyone a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly for December, January, and February.

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