Lift up …
Lord, I love to gather with Your people and listen to Your Word. Help me to be a faithful hearer, not only listening to what You say but obeying Your commands. Thank You for being in our midst. Amen.
Look at …
Jesus proved Himself to be the promised King—the Messiah of Israel—through His impeccable birthright, powerful words, and supernatural deeds. Despite His amazing miracles and the many ways He fulfilled prophecy, the religious leaders rejected His lordship. Knowing the religious leaders had turned on Him, Jesus directed His attention to the common people. Matthew 13 tells how Jesus stepped onto a floating pulpit on the Sea of Galilee and spoke in parables to explain how the gospel—the good news of salvation—would inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The parable of the Sower is one of seven parables Jesus taught to describe what His kingdom would look like as a result of the religious establishment’s rejecting Him. This parable was a precursor to the Great Commission that Jesus would give His disciples after His death, burial, and resurrection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). There is no evidence that the religious leaders stayed to listen to Jesus’ simple stories. Yet after this teaching session, the resentment of the religious leaders only deepened.
Read Matthew 13:1–3.
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. Matthew 13:1
Q1: Explain what Jesus did on this day in His ministry.
The sea here is the Sea of Galilee, located sixty miles north of Jerusalem. In this region of the Promised Land, Jesus offered the majority of His scriptural teachings and performed twenty-five of His thirty-three recorded miracles. Christ’s life and ministry were largely set against the backdrop of the Galilean hills.
Matthew 13:1 is the continuation of a critical day in Jesus’ ministry. Briefly scan Matthew 12; then answer the following questions to learn more about this “same day.”
Q2: What day of the week is referred to here?
Q3: What miracles did Jesus perform on this day?
Q4: Describe Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders.
Q5: What did He teach about becoming a member of His family?
Q6: According to Mark 3:6, what did the Pharisees begin to do on this fateful day?
And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.” Matthew 13:2–3
Q7: Explain why Jesus got into the boat.
The crowds had followed Jesus to the edge of the Sea of Galilee. A boat (probably Peter’s) became His floating pulpit. The hills surrounding the sea formed a natural amphitheater, functioning even better than a public-address system, allowing Jesus’ voice to carry to the multitudes on the shore.
Q8: How many people stayed to hear Jesus’ message?
Multitude literally means a throng, rabble, or riot. Commentators believe thousands of people, Jew and Gentile, gathered to hear Jesus on the seashore. “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
Q9: What method of teaching did Jesus use in speaking to the multitudes?
Q10: What types of things did He teach in parables?
Live out ...
Galilee was an important region to Jesus. Fill in the following table to learn more.
Scripture • Galilee’s Significance
Q11: Matthew 4:18–21
Q12: Matthew 17:22–23
Q13: Matthew 26:31–32
Q14: Luke 1:26–28
Q15: Luke 2:39–40
Q16: Acts 10:36–38
Galilee was important because Jesus was there. He walked its roads and sailed its seas. Eleven of His twelve disciples (Judas was the exception) hailed from Galilee. Capernaum of Galilee became His headquarters. Both Jews and Gentiles populated the area known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” From there, Jesus gladly spread His message to all.
Q17: We’ve learned that many people came to know Jesus in Galilee. Journal about the place where you encountered Jesus and how meeting Him affected your feelings about that location.
Q18: Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the multitudes that followed Him. Check the boxes below to indicate how you respond to the many people who are lost and looking for a shepherd.
While He felt contempt for religious hypocrites, Jesus felt only compassion and mercy for the multitudes. Compassion means sympathy or deep pity for another; the Greek term that Matthew uses literally means for your bowels to yearn. Compassion penetrates deep into one’s inner being, prompting kindhearted actions. “The Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).
Q19: Journal a prayer asking God to supernaturally fill you with compassion for the multitudes that don’t know Him.
The multitudes crowded around Jesus, so He turned a boat on the Sea of Galilee into a floating pulpit. In his book Fully Human, Fully Alive, John Powell tells about a friend vacationing in the Bahamas who was drawn to a noisy crowd gathered toward the end of a pier:
Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was vocally pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. “The sun will broil you! … You won’t have enough food! … That boat of yours won’t withstand the waves in a storm! … You’ll never make it!”
When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: “Bon Voyage! You’re really something! We’re with you! We’re proud of you!”2
If you had been there as the boat was leaving, which group on the pier would you have been among: the optimists, or the pessimists? More importantly, if you had been in the crowds along the Sea of Galilee, would you have joined the Pharisees seeking to harm Jesus or the crowd eagerly listening to the stories Jesus told?
Listen to …
The best leaders … almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols.