“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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road” (Matthew 13:19).
This verse rattled me a little bit. I’ve known the Parable of the Sower for years and thought I knew quite a bit about it. (It never hurts that Jesus included His own explanation and commentary. 🙂 ) The seeds are scattered and then try to grow, as is the nature of a seed, but most of them cannot. “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 the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:19-22).
To continue from earlier, Satan will do anything he can to lure us into taking our eyes off of Jesus. Our best defense is arming ourselves with the power of His Word: this means knowing your Bible in and out. Satan took verses out of context in front of Jesus. In front of Jesus!!! This is the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the One who will defeat Satan once and for all! Now, I know that at the time of this encounter, Jesus was pretty new into His whole ministry, having just been baptized and then went into the wilderness to fast. But here comes Satan, trotting up with the perfect Scripture! He’s hoping for a moment of weakness due to the fasting (hmmm, the theme of fasting pops up again!).
Satan’s tactic is to redirect Jesus’ attention from his fasting and praying to how weak and hungry He has become, how He deserves special care, and how He can take a shortcut to own the world. These all play on the human nature named by Paul as “The Flesh.” The desires of The Flesh are all about self-gratification.
And where do Jesus’ responses take the focus? Off of Himself and the desires that plague all humans: – desires that come from The Flesh.
- Turn stones into bread: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
- Throw Himself from the temple and make the angels catch Him (after Satan quotes Scripture at Him!): “Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”‘”
- Bow down and worship Satan: “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’”
Focus: Off self –> Upon God
But Jesus didn’t take a minute to weigh His options. Temptation just kinda bounced off Jesus. I think He shot back His answer, and He whipped out those Scriptures to stop Satan’s attacks so fast that He had to have been studying and preparing for years. Oh wait, He is the Son of God…
Does that mean you’re doomed because you’re not Jesus? Absolutely not. Does that mean you’re doomed if you haven’t spent years in Bible classes and/or seminary? Absolutely not. Does that mean you’re doomed if the only memory verses you can remember are John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1? Well, you could fight temptation with those two verses, but…
I’m serious about encouraging all of you to study the Bible.
Sometimes it’s hard and boring. Sometimes Bible study feels like another homework assignment. Do I want to watch another episode of Netflix, or do I do extra homework? I know what I’d pick! That is why I took an intentional period of fasting. Fasting opens up things: opens up time, opens you up to hear God’s Word, and opens you up to your shortcomings. Surprisingly, spending time studying Scripture is good for each of these things. When you’re not spending hours staring mindlessly at a screen, you’ve got to fill that time somehow. Extra homework is not the natural choice by any means, so you really have to be intentional about how you fill that time. Something will. When you create time and space for God to speak into your life, He will. Be ready for it. What He may reveal about your life may not be the prettiest. He may start shining the Light from His Word into those deep corners of your life you keep saying you’re going to deal with but instead read random self-help pins on Pinterest, which leads to the snarky quote pins, which leads to random cat videos…
And be prepared for Satan to hit you with more temptations. The more you grow in your relationship with God, the more Satan tries to make you backpedal. And make you feel guilty for it. He’s good at his job. He knows all about the Bible. So when that seed is scattered – the seed of very the Word of God, which is alive and active and infused with the power of God – Satan will do his best to snatch it away, just like the seeds scattered along the path that were eaten by birds.
Don’t forget that some of the seed fell on good soil, “where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matthew 13:8-9). These returns on the seed scattered are absolutely amazing, especially considering the original audience thought that a seven-fold return was great. It goes out and accomplishes what it was sent to do.
Once that seed has been planted in a life that is ready to receive and cultivate the message, there is no end to what the Word of God can do in a person’s life. “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). That weapon has unstoppable power when wielded. The Word penetrates and divides. It judges those things you bury deep down. And it is Truth.
Do you know the Scriptures well enough to know the truth from a lie? That wisdom is found within its pages.
My prayer for you is that when you hear the Word of God, you receive it and let it take root.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17).