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Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 13, March 20 — 26
Matthew 13; Luke 8, 13 — “Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear”

Matthew 13:1-23 The Parable of the Sower (see also Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15)

A parable is a story using everyday things or situations, with a spiritual message that is revealed to some listeners, but concealed from others. This choice chapter contains seven parables taught by Jesus as He sat by the Sea of Galilee and “great multitudes” gathered to hear Him (verses 1-2; note that some scholars count verse 52 as an eighth parable in this chapter). We’ll first look at what Jesus said about parables in verses 9-17:

  • In verse 10 the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables. Verse 9 tells us that Jesus had declared, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” but there is more.
  • Read verses 11-13 to better understand why Jesus taught through parables. Do you consider yourself to be one who has ears to hear? When do you feel most ready to hear Him?
  • Read Alma 12:10-11. The Lord’s unwillingness to directly communicate truth to the unprepared is a matter of compassion on His part, for He does not give them light for which they would otherwise be accountable (see D&C 82:3).
  • Read in Matthew 13:15 Jesus’s comment regarding those with hard hearts. What did He say to His disciples in verses 16-17?

Now, let’s consider the parable of the sower (also known as the parable of the seeds or the parable of the soils):

  • In Matthew 13, what four kinds of ground did the seeds fall into, according to (1) verse 4; (2) verses 5-6; (3) verse 7; and (4) verse 8?
  • What subsequently happened to each of the four seeds?
  • What do you think the seeds represent? What do you think constitutes “good ground”?
  • In verses 18-23 the Savior explained this parable, telling us that the seed represents “the word of the kingdom,” then He described four kinds of “hearers.”
  • According to verse 19, what does it mean for a seed (or the word of God) to fall “by the way side”? Have you observed this in someone?
  • In verses 20-21, what does it mean for a seed to fall into “stony places”? (Mark 4:17 adds “affliction” as an additional factor; and Luke 8:13 says that “in a time of temptation” some fall away.) Have you seen this happen? How can we avoid being “offended” in times of tribulation, persecution, or temptation?
  • In verse 22, what does it mean for a seed to fall “among the thorns”? (Mark 4:19 adds that “the lust of other things” choke the word of God; and Luke 8:14 says these people become “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life.”) Read also D&C 121:34-35.
  • According to verse 23, what happens when a seed is received into “good ground”? In addition to the word being “received,” what else does this verse say we must do, in order to “bear fruit”? (Luke 8:15 adds that this seed was received “in an honest and good heart.”)

The parable of the sower/seeds/soils is of great significance. Drawing from the words in Matthew 13; Mark 4; and Luke 8; the cautions and counsel that this parable offers us are:

  • We must continue in God’s word in spite of Satan trying to take His word from our hearts.
  • We must strive to stay close to the Lord and His word in times of temptation, tribulation, persecution, or other afflictions.
  • We must recognize and reject the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, lusting after things, and foolish worldly pleasures.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

This parable is also of great value for our day, and it also involves the planting of seeds. Jesus began by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field” (verse 24):

  • What happened in verses 25-27?
  • What was the interchange in verses 28-29 between the householder and the servants?
  • What was the approach to be taken, according to verse 30?

NOTE: “Tares” are generally identified as what we know today as darnel grass, which is bitter and poisonous; some call it “wheat’s evil twin.” The seeds and young plants of both wheat and darnel are difficult to distinguish one from another, and to try to destroy or separate the darnel would mean destroying much of the wheat. The tares’ difference cannot be detected until both plants are mature, and only then can the tares be gathered and burned.

  • We are also blessed to have the Savior’s explanation of this parable. Read verses 36-43 and identify what each of the following represent: the man/householder; the field; the good seed; the tares; the enemy; the harvest; the reapers; and the burning.
  • Now read Doctrine and Covenants 86:1-7, looking for additional insights, as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith (see also D&C 88:94).
  • What stands out most for you in the parable of the wheat and the tares?

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50 “The Kingdom of Heaven Is …” (see also Mark 4:30-34; Luke 13:18-21)

Jesus continues by teaching several brief parables, beginning each one by telling us that He is teaching about the kingdom of heaven, which may be taken as a reference to the Lord’s church and its members, as well as the eternal kingdom He has in store for the faithful.

In Matthew 13:11, Jesus said that through parables He is teaching His disciples so that they may “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” and it may be reasonable to suppose that some of these mysteries—unknown to or misunderstood by the world—include such powerful doctrines as the Atonement, faith, repentance, resurrection, the plan of salvation, the Holy Ghost, and so forth.

Read and ponder what you learn about the Lord and His kingdom in these parables:

  • A mustard seed (verses 31-32).
  • Leaven (yeast; verse 33).
  • Treasure hidden in a field (verse 44).
  • A pearl of great price (verses 45-46).
  • A fishing net (verses 47-50).

Matthew 13:54-58 He Returns to Nazareth (see also Mark 6:1-6)

Although Jesus had previously abandoned His hometown of Nazareth due to their hard-heartedness (see Luke 4:16-30), in these verses He returns to Nazareth. Read Matthew 13:54-58. What were the reasons or excuses the people gave for rejecting Him? How would you answer to such rationalizations?

Note: The events in Luke 8:19-56 (Jesus’s mother and brothers seeking Him; Jesus calming the storm at sea; Jesus casting a legion of devils into swine; Jesus healing the daughter of Jairus; a woman healed by touching Jesus’s clothing) were all covered within the last three weeks, using the versions in Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:28-34; and Mark 5:1-43.

Luke 13:6-17 The Barren Fig Tree and Barren Rulers

  • Read verses 6-9 and consider this parable in light of Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon, which we call the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees.
  • In both stories, God is doing things in order to help His children on earth become “fruitful,” or righteous. In Luke 13, some have interpreted the barren fig tree to represent the Jews among whom the Savior labored in a ministry of “these three years” (verse 7).
  • The Lord planted, worked with a servant (“dresser”), dug about, and dunged. What has the Lord done—and what is He doing now—to help you to be “fruitful”?
  • In Luke 13:10-17, Jesus again heals on the Sabbath and is again challenged by a Jewish ruler. How did Jesus answer him in verses 15-16? The Savior can also “loose” us from bonds, whether they be of Satan or other causes.
  • Note in verse 17 that Jesus’s adversaries were ashamed, while the people rejoiced. Let us rejoice!

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