"I am the vine, you are the branches"
The Planted Seed
This month we want to look at planted seed. By now those who grow a garden and planted their seeds should be harvesting what they have planted. We want to take a closer look at our spiritual garden to see in what condition it is in. Everyone should have a spiritual garden. Yeshua/Jesus tells us that we need to bear fruit, and much fruit at that. So we are going to take a closer look at this subject to determine if we are keeping the commandment to bear fruit.
In Matthew 13:1-9, Yeshua tells us this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other 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.” The disciples asked what does this all mean. In verses 18-23 Yeshua explains it this way: “Listen, then, to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.”
This is the seed sown along the path. At some point in our lives we have all heard the message of the kingdom, what we call the gospel message, or more correctly the salvation message. Even though we think we understand, we truly don’t. For the message that we think only requires us to say a prayer, but the true message actually requires us to pick up our cross and crucify our flesh. It requires of us to forsake the world and to cling to God by walking in His ways and keeping His commandments. When we do not truly understand what God requires of us, it causes us to stay in those sins that so easily entangle us (Hebrews 12:1), which causes us to stumble and even fall and we can no longer run the race set before us. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
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. Roots: every plant needs roots. How does a plant get roots? Well, it must be watered and fertilized and the seed must be allowed to germinate and sprout. So often a new believer has great joy, and why not, since they have just received a message pertaining to life. They have a hope and a future with God. But this newly planted seed has not received enough sprinkling of prayer and the fertilization that comes from reading of the Word, and the seed hasn’t had enough time to germinate because the new believer has not yet let go of the world as described in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” And so when the new believer begins to tell others about this great new life that they have received, they find that their friends do not want anything to do with them any longer, as 1 Peter 4:1-6 tells us, “Therefore, since Messiah suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” The new believer falls 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. So the seed has germinated and begun to sprout, but the testing of our faith and life’s temptations causes us not to bear our fruit. Luke 12:22-23 says this: “Then Yeshua said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.’” It goes on to tell us in verses 27-31, “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” We are not like the pagans any longer. When we accept the sacrifice of Yeshua in our lives we now become children of God. We are no longer citizens of this world, but as aliens passing through we become citizens of the kingdom of God. Our faith and trust must be in God our Father. Without faith you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). Our Heavenly Father, even in the time of temptation, makes a way for us as the Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” When we trust God and we are walking in faith, having let go of the world, picking up our cross and crucifying our flesh, spending time with Him in prayer and in the Word, we now have prepared the soil of our hearts to receive and understand God’s Word.
This now takes us to the end of the parable, but the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. God wants us to bear fruit, so how do we do that? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:10, “Now He that supplies seed to the sower and bread for eating shall supply and make abundant your sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” As disciples of Messiah, we have been commissioned to go out into the world and make disciples, not converts (Matthew 28:19). A disciple follows in the footsteps of His teacher and so he has been trained by His teacher. He learns to do exactly what his teacher does. Luke 6:40 tells us, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Our teacher is the Messiah. So we too must be fully trained in handling the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
God wants His people to work in His harvest field, but so few of us answer the call. Matthew 9:35-38 says this, “Yeshua went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” The Amplified version in Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Messiah Yeshua, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” You see, God called us, and now God wants to use us to do the work of the kingdom, as He uses terms like “picking up our cross and denying ourselves” (Matthew 16:24-26), or “taking on the yoke” in Matthew 11:29-30: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
John 15 tells us that we must remain in Yeshua to bear fruit, and if we do not bear fruit we will be cut off. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”
We have seen how we can so easily not abide in the Messiah because of worries that cause doubt or temptations that cause us to sin that can separate us from God’s presence—not praying or reading our Bibles, and of course, just plain old not walking with God.
So I will assume that if you are reading this, you have had the seed planted in your hearts by someone giving you the salvation message, or maybe you have picked up a Bible and began to read it because of curiosity, but no matter, the question remains: Is that seed growing into a tree of righteousness so that you can bear fruit, or has that seed been allowed to shrivel up and die? We must spend time examining ourselves, even if we have walked with Messiah for fifty years. A tree must still be pruned and watered all the length of its time so that it stays healthy and can continue bearing fruit.
Psalm 1 tells us, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. Jeremiah 17:7-8 puts it this way, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Everyone who plants seed wants to see that seed sprout and grow and bear fruit, this includes our Heavenly Father. And not only does His word provide the seed, but so does His Holy Spirit who plants seed in our hearts so that we can do those works that have been predestined for us to do, and His seed is the fruit of the Spirit which is found in Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
So let’s bear some fruit so we can reap a harvest of 100%, 60%, or 30%, for the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Happy harvesting!