Lesson 3 July 13 - 19

Seeds and Banquets

Read for This Weeks Study: Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23; Luke 14:16-24.

Memory Text: "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me" (Revelation 3:20, NRSV).

Key Thought: God's offer of salvation is received or rejected by different types of people. But those who fully accept His grace, He blesses beyond measure.



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ANOTHER BUSY DAY IN JESUS' LIFE WAS COMING TO A CLOSE.  Earlier He had healed a man who was blind, unable to talk, and devil-possessed (Matt. 12:22, 23).  Afterward, the Pharisees accused Him of being in league with the prince of devils.  Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law expressed their desire for Him to prove He was the Messiah. In response, Jesus referred to Jonah and proclaimed that the people of Nineveh would stand at the judgment and condemn these Pharisees' generation.   Jesus proceeded to the seashore, only to be followed by a throng of people.  Quite possibly, some of the Pharisees and scribes continued to haunt His footsteps.  As He related the parable of the sower, He no doubt was considering the various people who had questioned and doubted Him earlier.

This week we will continue our study of parables that deal with the reception of truth.  As you explore the parables of the sower and the great banquet, examine your life to learn how you receive God's truth.

Sunday July 13

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23).

Last week we studied how a merchant's eagerness to buy the flawless pearl illustrates the reaction Christ would like all of us to have when we encounter His grace. But as our next parable shows, this will not always be the case.

Read Mark 4:1-20. Then match the items in Column B to the items in Column A.

Column A Column B
1. the sower a. the human heart
2. the seed b. the person who accepts Christ with joy but soon becomes discouraged
3. the soil in general c. the person who accepts Christ, obeys Him, and brings forth fruit
4. the soil by the wayside d. Christ; those who do His work
5. stony soil e. the person who hears God's word but does not obey it
6. thorny soil f. God's word; the gospel
7. good soil g. the person who hears the Word but will not give up the old life

It had been quite a day (Matt. 12:22-50).  And toward the end of it, the press of the crowd forced Jesus to retreat to a boat (Matt. 13:1, 2).   Nearby lay the plain of Gennesaret and beyond the plain rose the hills.  From His floating pulpit, Jesus could see farmers casting the seed for the second crop of the year.  (See Christ's Object Lessons, p. 34.)  In the crowd, there was no doubt every type of person represented by the four types of soil.  All appeared most eager to receive His salvation.  But He knew that not all would.  Could it be, therefore, "that Jesus fashioned the parable in a kind of count-the-cost tone? . . .  It may well be for the crowd a challenge to right hearing, the importance of attentive hearing.... Jesus presented a searching challenge to expose the depth and character of the crowd's initial flurry.'--Jones, The Teaching of the Parables, pp. 70, 71.

Sit with the crowd by the edge of the sea.  Earlier you witnessed Jesus healing the sick; you heard your religious leaders say He was in league with the devil.  Why are you there now?

Monday July 14

THE SOWER STARTS OUT (Matt. 13:3, 37).

"In Oriental lands. . . . farmers dwelt together in villages for protection against roving bands of robbers.  In the morning, at daybreak, they 'went forth' [Matt. 13:3, KJV] from their villages to the surrounding fields, and at twilight they returned home again.  In the same way Christ, the Sower of truth, came 'forth' from the Father in heaven to this world-the 'field' (see v. 38)-in order that He might 'bear witness unto the truth' (John 18:37; cf. ch. 10:10)."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 404.

"He [Christ] soweth the Word, and he is the Word.  The spoken word will not live in the hearts of the hearers without his grace, his presence.  Christians are born again of incorruptible seed--'by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever' (1 Pet. 1:23; compare also 1 John 3:9). That incorruptible seed is the grace of Christ, Christ's presence, Christ himself abiding in the heart by his Spirit. His grace lives in the soul, growing, spreading through the heart, filling it with a new life, transforming him in whom the seed abideth into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."-The Pulpit Commentary, The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 2, p. 18.

How would you describe a person represented by the wayside ground? Matt. 13:3, 4, 19.

The fields of Palestine sometimes consisted of long narrow strips with the ground between strips used as a path or wayside. These paths were worn rock hard by endless numbers of travelers. A farmer sowed using one of the following methods: (1.) He could broadcast the seed while walking through the field with the bag of seed slung over his shoulder. If the wind was blowing, some of the seed could easily fall on the wayside. (2.) As Barclay suggests, he could put a sack of seed on the back of an ass, tear a hole in one comer of the sack, then walk the animal through the fields while the seed leaked out of the sack. Some of the seed would surely fall on the hardened path as the animal crisscrossed over the waysides. (See Barclay, The Gospel of St. Matthew, vol. 2, p. 58.)

What does it take for a person to understand the gospel message? What causes lack of understanding? How can people’s training and environment prevent them from hearing the gospel message? How can one presenting the gospel overcome the negative influence of people’s backgrounds? What influences does the evil one exert to prevent people from understanding the gospel?

Tuesday July 15

STONY PALCES (Matt. 13;5, 6, 20, 21).

Describe the type of person represented by the rocky soil.  Matt. 13:5, 6, 20, 21; Luke 8:13.

The stony soil consists of rocky ledges below a shallow surface of soil.  People who are like this type of soil receive the gospel seed with joy, but fail to count the cost of discipleship.  Considering only the soothing, material benefits of religion, they "have never thought deeply of the sharpness of the cross, of their own danger, of the sacrifices which the cross demands.'--The Pulpit Commentary, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, vol. 2, p. 18.  Thus when the scorching heat of affliction and temptation beats upon them, when God asks them to interrupt their cozy life to do an uncomfortable task or give up a pleasing yet harmful habit, the tiny gospel plant quickly withers.

What have the stony-ground hearers not experienced?  John 3:3, 7; Titus 3:4, 5.  How does John 6:41-66 enlarge upon our understanding of stony-ground people?

A great many people soon heard about the miracles recorded in John 6:1-22.  And seeking to satisfy their curiosity, they rushed to find Jesus.  They also hoped rather vainly to secure their temporal needs by associating themselves with Him.  Because Jesus was aware of their motives, He said to them, " 'Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him' (John 6:27, NKJV).  But His following speech regarding the true nature of what He had to offer offended their natural desires and long standing traditions.  "They had welcomed His miracle-working power; they were eager to be freed from disease and suffering; but they would not come into sympathy with His self-sacrificing life....

"Praise and flattery would be pleasing to their ears; but the truth is unwelcome; they cannot hear it.  When the crowds follow, and the multitudes are fed, and the shouts of triumph are heard, their voices are loud in praise; but when the searching of God's Spirit reveals their sin, and bids them leave it, they turn their backs upon the truth,. and walk no more with Jesus.'--The Desire of Ages, pp. 391, 392.

How deep has the gospel seed been able to take root in your heart?  Read Luke 9:23.  Are you willing to dedicate your life to Jesus every day, regardless of the cost?

Wednesday July 16

WORRISOME THORNS (Matt. 13:7, 22; Luke 8:14).

What progression is evident regarding the ability of the seed to grow in each of the first three types of soil?

1. On the wayside ground, the seed _______________________________________ .

2. On the rocky soil, the seed ______________________________________but
__________________________________________________soon after.

3. Among thorns, the seed ______________________________________ but
_______________________________________ .

In the stony ground, the young plants withered soon after the heat of the sun touched them.  But in the thorny ground, the plants lived longer.  Likewise, thorny-ground Christians become more mature in their Christian experience than stony-ground hearers.  They appear to make a genuine start, and evidently experience the new birth.  But eventually their preoccupation with the worries and concerns of everyday life chokes their Christian experience.  They become too busy or worried to pray and study God's Word.

How would you define "the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches" (Matt. 13:22, NKJV) and the "pleasures of life"?  (Luke 8:14, NKJV).  What advice does Christ give us regarding these thorns?  Matt. 6:24-34.

"There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world's standard.  They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs.   Thus their character is marred and their life made a weariness. The continual worry is wearing out the life forces.   Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, 'My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'   Worry is blind and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning."--The Ministry of Healing, p. 481.

What fruits of the Spirit are choked by worry, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of this world?  See Gal. 5:22-25.  What thorns might you need the Master Gardener to exterminate form your life?  How do you plan to cooperate with Him in the process?

Thursday July 17

YOU ARE INVITED (Luke 14:16-24).

Describe the setting of the parable of the great banquet.  Luke 14:1-16.

"The Jews had a series of ever-recurring conventional pictures of what would happen when God broke into history and when the golden days of the new age arrived.  One of these was the picture of the Messianic banquet.... It is of this banquet that the man who spoke to Jesus was thinking.  When he spoke of the happiness of those who would be guests at that banquet he was thinking of Jews, and of Jews only, for the average, orthodox Jew would never have dreamed that gentiles and sinners would find a place at the feast of God." --Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 192.

Match the following words or phrases to each part of the parable listed below:  Jesus; giving the gospel to the Gentiles; God; the gospel feast; the Jews.

The great banquet                                                                  
The man giving the banquet   
The servant  
The guests who were invited first  
The highways and hedges    

The excuses some of the people gave for not attending the banquet are much the same as ours for not receiving Christ's grace.  (1) The man who had purchased a field allowed business to override God's claims.  How many of us are so immersed in our daily business that we neglect time to pray, study the Word, and worship God?  (2) The man who had bought the oxen and desired to try them out was at the mercy of novelty.  Does your new computer take up all your time?   Or does the hobby you just started take precedence over spiritual matters?  (3) This excuse involved a new spouse.   Perhaps the man was thinking of Deuteronomy 24:5.   But even family can crowd out God's invitation to mercy.  Many people feel they cannot accept God's invitation, because of problems it could create for their family or problems family members might create for them.

How might tradition, business, novelty, or family be holding you back form accepting God’s invitation?

Friday July 18

FURTHER STUDY:   In Luke 14:23, the man giving the banquet tells his servant to "compel" the people to come to the banquet.  Through the ages, many people have thought this verse condoned the use of force to convert people to Christianity.  What light do Matthew 5:43-47; 7:12; 10:14; 26:51, 52; Luke 9:51-55 shed on this problem?  How does the parable itself give us an answer?  How did Jesus "compel" people to believe in Him?

Read either one of the following chapters from Christ's Object Lessons:   "The Sower Went Forth to Sow", pp. 33-61; "Go Into the Highways and Hedges," pp. 219-237.

"By the words 'compel them to come in' Jesus here simply emphasizes the urgency of the invitation and the compelling force of divine grace. Loving- kindness was to be the compelling force.... There is a vast difference between the insistent appeal that Jesus had in mind and the resort to physical force that many professed Christians in centuries gone by have considered appropriate, and that some who profess the name of Christ would rely on today if they had the opportunity to do so....

"Any use of force or persecution in matters of religion is a policy inspired by the devil, not by Christ."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 810.


1. What have the parables of the sower and the great banquet taught you about the value of truth, various ways of receiving the truth, and things that might prevent you from accepting it?

2. Notice that Luke 14:1-24 revolves around banqueting.  Jesus often referred to the kingdom in terms of a feast.  What emotions do people usually exhibit on such occasions?  What does this tell us about the type of Christianity that drains the color from life?

3. How might Christ illustrate today the same concepts He illustrated with the parables of the sower and the great banquet?

SUMMARY:  The parables of the sower and the great banquet tell us how to receive the gospel into our hearts, and they teach us about the dangers of divided hearts.  The blessings of salvation find fertile soil in hearts that accept Christ, obey, and thus bring forth fruit.  Such hearts do not favor daily business or possessions-nor are they absorbed only by the concerns of family. They are singly focused on Christ.

I Should Have Died

Inge Gray and Ahissou Francis

"The doctor said that I should have died," Antoinette Hounga testified at a women's meeting.   "But God worked a miracle for me, and I am alive and well.  My doctor was so sure that I would die that when I survived, he asked what church I belonged to."  Antoinette and her family live in the village of So-Tchanhoue in the tiny African country of Benin.  The village is built over a lake.  Each building is constructed to stand several feet above the water.  People travel from place to place by boat, transport their goods to market by boat, and even hold their marketplace in boats on the water.

When Antoinette's fifth child was due, she went to the village maternity clinic to give birth.  But after the baby was born, she began to hemorrhage.  Her blood pressure dropped to 70/40.  Her husband donated blood for an emergency blood transfusion, but Antoinette continued to grow weaker.  The only hope for her was to rush her to the nearest hospital, a one-hour trip by boat.  The midwife was sure Antoinette would not survive the trip.  Her husband cradled her and the new baby in his arms as his brother steered the canoe toward help.

When the family arrived at the hospital, Antoinette was unconscious.  When the doctors learned how far the family had come, they were surprised that she was still alive.  They operated immediately and were able to stop the internal bleeding.  But they offered the husband little hope that she would recover. When Antoinette lived, her doctor could only say, "Your God saved you!"

Antoinette's family had not known God long.  The Adventist message reached their village in 1993 when a pastor and a layman from a neighboring village began visitation and Bible studies.  When they found interest in the village, the pastor held evangelistic meetings in an open field near the lake.  When the rains were heavy, the pastor preached while standing in a foot of water.  Large numbers of villagers came to hear him present the truths of the Bible, most listening from their canoes on the lake.  Between 20 and 30 people now meet every Sabbath in a simple church in So-Tchanhoue.

God is at work in So-Tchanhoue, the village on the water.  Antoinette and the other members can testify to it.  But thousands of other villages in Benin have not yet heard the message of a soon coming Saviour.  Pray that they will receive the hope we hold dear.

Until 1995, Inge Gray worked with her husband in the Benin Mission.  Today they work in Cote d'Ivoire. Ahissou Francis is a pastor in Benin.

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