Wk 2 // Off The Wall // Work the Soil

ICEBREAKER

  • Can you think of a recent example when you wish you had done a better job of listening? What happened? Why didn’t you listen more closely?

  • What is the difference between hearing something and listening to something?

  • What, in today’s culture, makes listening well a difficult skill?

INTRODUCTION

Listening is a lost art in our culture. We are constantly bombarded with noise from every direction. Our ability to listen is more than an essential skill for relationships; it demonstrates a heart that is open and receptive especially when it comes to our relationship with Jesus. When Jesus spoke to his disciples, he spoke in parables. But in order to understand what Jesus was truly saying, his disciples had to listen and listen well.

In this week’s message, Pastor Sean shared one of Jesus’ parables about seeds and soil. But this parable is about so much more than gardening. It’s about the deeper walk of faith and discipleship.

SERMON RECAP

Spend a few minutes recapping this week's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.

  • What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?

  • Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?

  • Was there anything that challenged you?

READ

Ask a volunteer to Read Matthew 13:1-17.

  • Look closely at verses 1 and 2. Why would Jesus choose this parable at this moment to these people?

NOTE
Because of the size of the crowd, there were many different kinds of hearts represented. Jesus wanted all His hearers to know that His truth wouldn’t grow deeply in everyone’s hearts. It would fall in all kinds of places, but those who were ready to truly hear it would respond.

  • Why do you think so many people heard the words of Jesus but then didn’t understand them?

  • In what ways do you see people around you hearing the words of Jesus but not really listening to them?

NOTE
Too many people suffer from selective hearing. They either hear only what they want to hear or they refuse to understand what they do hear. Far worse are those who hear and understand but do not act on what they hear. Thus, Jesus said to His disciples in verse 10, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God,” to make clear that God must open our eyes in order for us to fully understand spiritual truth (see 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

  • What do we learn about the sower?

  • What do we learn about the seed?

  • Is this a parable about the sower, the seeds, or the soil? Why?

NOTE
In an agricultural society, everyone would have understood what happened when a sower went out into a field to sow his seed. At least one path ran through most fields, and much of the terrain in Israel was rocky under a thin layer of topsoil. Dropping seeds along such paths was futile. Many fields had thorn bushes along the perimeters. Seeds falling there had no chance to grow and survive until harvest time. Others, however, did fall on fertile soil and produced 100 times what was sown.

Ask a volunteer to Read Matthew 13:18-23.

  • Based on Jesus’ interpretation, what character traits would be representative of each kind of soil?

  • Which of the soils produce similar results? What do these results portray? Which soil is unique and how so?

    NOTE
    In His parable, Jesus described four types of soil, with soil representing people who hear the gospel. The first three refer to people who are not saved but who have varying responses to the seed of the Word of God. Then Jesus contrasted those types of people with people whose hearts are good ground. The same good seed fell on all four types of soil, but only this last example refers to a person who has been born again.

  • Do you know people represented by each of these soils? What kind of “soil” best represents you now? What about you five years ago?

  • When we share our faith with others, we are the farmer spreading the seed. What help do you get from this parable about sharing your faith?

NOTE
First, the person hears the Word of God with an honest and good heart. The second characteristic of people whose hearts are good soil is that they hold on to Christ’s teaching. Finally, Jesus said the seed in the good soil would bear fruit with endurance. True believers make a faith commitment that endures to the end. Their lives are spiritually productive and they consistently live in obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word.

APPLICATION

  • What active ways can we till the soil of our hearts to make us ready to receive the word of God? Before worship? Before our group? Before our personal time with God?

  • Why is it not enough to just hear the word of God? What does putting it into practice reveal about our commitment to Him?

PRAYER

Thank God for giving us His Word. Pray that God would give us eyes to see and ears to hear the glorious truth of the gospel. Pray that God’s Word would take deep root in our hearts such that it produces faithful obedience and visible fruit.

Brian Otte