Jesus at the Beach – Lesson 2
Writer: Trevor Lee; Editor: Sean Sweet; Project Supervisor: Nick Diliberto; Artwork: Kindred Creative; PowerPoint Slides: Rob Quinn; Created by PreteenMinistry.net
Week 2: Parable of the Sower
Bible Passages: Matthew 13:1-9
Bottom Line: Jesus wants to change the condition of our hearts so his word can produce fruit in our lives.
Jesus had many powerful encounters with his disciples. Many of these life-changing moments took place at or near a beach. "Jesus at the Beach” is a summer series that highlights some of these encounters - and gives preteens a chance to have their own, life-changing encounter with "Jesus at the Beach".
Today’s story took place at a beach near the sea. So many people came to listen and learn from Jesus that the shore became crowded. Jesus climbed into a boat and pushed out a little ways so that everybody could hear him teach. From the boat, Jesus shared a parable - a short story that communicates a spiritual truth. By sharing The Parable of the Sower, Jesus was teaching that people react in various ways when they hear God’s Word.
Summer presents a wonderful time for preteens to spend time in God’s Word, but when preteens read the Bible, there are many ways they can react. We hope today's lesson will help preteens to receive God’s Word with fertile hearts.
Last week we started a series called, "Jesus at the Beach", a series that gives you a chance to have powerful encounters with Jesus...at the beach. Sometimes, when people stand on a beautiful beach, they listen to the sound of seagulls and crashing waves. They smell the salty sea air. They feel a breeze on their face, and the sand between their toes. And as they stand there on the beach, they have an emotional reaction. What kind of emotions might somebody at the beach feel?
Questions to think about:
What is your favorite emotion? Least favorite? When might you show that emotion?
Which emotions do you feel when you are reading the Bible? Why?
We have emotional reactions to things every day. In the course of most days, we will have many emotional reactions. Our reaction to things says a lot about who we are. When God asks us to do something, our reaction reveals our attitude…and our heart.
TEACH: PARABLE OF THE SOWER
Read Matthew 13:1-4:
On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside. Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach. He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them.
Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn’t have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Today's story opens up when Jesus took a walk to the beach.
Once there, he sat and looked out over the water. Suddenly people began coming over to him. How would you react if you were enjoying a moment looking out at the water, skipping stones, just relaxing…and then people by the hundred began surrounding you?
At some point there were so many people that Jesus was crowded...maybe he about to fall into the sea! Instead of taking swim, Jesus got into a boat and began teaching.
From the boat Jesus told the story we just read, the Parable of the Sower. Some of you might wonder what a parable is. Well, let me tell you. A parable is a short story that shows a significant spiritual truth. The parable that we are looking at today uses a farmer sowing seeds to show us a significant spiritual truth about God's word and our hearts.
Now, have you ever had a garden or ever grown a plant before? Most of you know that an important step if you want to grow a plant is to get a seed into the ground. Putting seed into the ground is called sowing.
In this picture, we see a farmer sowing seed. Now, before the days of tractors and fancy sowing tools, farmers use to spread seed simply by throwing it every which way.Farmers wanted large harvests, so they threw out a lot of seeds. The more seeds the farmer threw out, the greater the chance that something will grow.
However, where the farmer throws seed makes a world of difference. For example, Jesus shared that “As he [the farmer] was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up”. (Matthew 13:4). You see, if a farmer throws a seed on hard ground, the seed doesn't go into the ground, and the birds just come and have dinner. When the ground is hard, nothing grows. Even if the seed is the best seed in the world, it does not matter. Nothing will grow. No crop, no harvest, nothing. In order for the seed to grow it needs fertile soil.
Some of the seeds the farmer threw out landed on a stony path…check it out: “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” (Matthew 13:5-6) In this scenario the soil wasn't as hard, but it was rocky. So the seeds grew into plants, but they did not have enough soil to develop roots. These plants were very weak. Because they had no roots to give them strength and nourishment, the sun easily “stomped” on them and killed them.
The farmer also sowed seeds in places where there were other plants - thorny weeds that choked the life out of anything that grew. Jesus said, “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants”. (Matthew 13:7) Once again, when the seed tried to grow, the outcome was failure. (Collect the packing peanuts from the preteens.)
It wasn't all bad news for the farmer, though. Listen to the last part of the parable: “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8) What just happened? Is this a different kind of seed than the rest? No. Is this a different farmer doing the sowing this time? No. What's different this time - why is the outcome so different from the other three times?
When the seed fell on the ground, birds ate it; when the seed fell on the stony path, it was destroyed by the sun; when the seed fell in the thorns; it was choked; finally, though, when the seed landed in the fertile soil it grew…A LOT!
But, my friends, Jesus wasn't telling this story to help you know how to grow plants. Just like most of Jesus' teachings, he's teaching something way, way deeper than that.
Remember, a parable is a short story to show a significant spiritual truth. The truth that Jesus was teaching was about God’s Word (the Bible) and our hearts! Remember what Jesus said when he finished telling the parable?
He said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9) Jesus wanted people to understand this truth…that when we listen to God's word, it will cause a reaction. And that reaction reveals something about the condition of your heart. When you read the Bible, how do you react? Does it affect you?
Jesus shared the Parable of the Sower to demonstrate a truth about God’s Word. His word is being spread out like good seed. God desires that his truth would grow (like a plant) and change us from the inside out. Some people may hear God’s Word and forget it. Their hearts are like the path where nothing grows. Others may go to church every once in a while, be encouraged by God’s Word, but then one day later, they forget God's word. Their hearts are like the rocky soil, where the seed can't grow strong roots. Others might hear God’s Word, but then the truths they are hearing get choked out by the worries of this world. Their hearts are like the soil infested with weeds. Others, however, and I hope this would be all of you in this room, receive God's Word, grow deep in their relationship with him, and God's Word grows into something awesome in their lives! Their hearts are like the good soil.
God's Word is always good, but some people have hearts where God's Word just won't grow.We want God’s Word to grow in our hearts, so what can we do? How do we keep our hearts fertile?
Look at this rock. Over time, soft dirt can become so hard that it eventually turns into a rock. The rock becomes so hard that nothing can grow on it...except for slimy moss. Yuck!
Imagine you have soil that is soft, a great place for a plant to grow. Well, beware! If that soil is not treated properly, it can become drier, thicker, harder and slowly form into a cold, slimy rock. This is much like our hearts - if we do not take care of our hearts than our hearts can also become cold, hard, slimy rocks…and God’s Word will not take root.
Let's not allow this to happen to us. Instead of letting our hearts toward God turn cold and hard, let's do some things to keep our hearts fertile. Here are some ways we can do that:
One way to have a fertile hearts is to obey God. We all have some idea of what God loves for us to do, and also what choices we could make that would displease God. When we make the right choice to obey God, God stirs up our hearts! Obeying God can prevent our heart from getting hard. When we trust God enough to obey Him, it will soften our hearts.
Another way to keep our hearts fertile is to not judge others. When we judge others, we begin to get a hard heart. We begin thinking the worst about people and, in turn, begin thinking we are better than everyone else. You might judge a person by the clothes they wear, the type of music they listen to, their smell or even how they look. When we judge our hearts become hard. Every time we judge, it's like the soil of our heart becomes pressed down, making it harder and harder. Eventually, it can become solid. On the other hand When we avoid judging others, we protect our hearts from getting hard, and we keep our hearts fertile for God’s Word.
A third way to keep our hearts fertile for God is talking and listening to God. When we talk with God, we can share everything that is on our hearts. We can share what we are thankful for, what we are worried about, what we are sad about, or even what we need from God. When we talk to God, we know he hears us and responds to us with love. Knowing God is with us, hears us, and loves us is like the soil of our hearts getting rain water. If soil never gets water it becomes dry and hard. Talking to God enables us to be refreshed, and God’s refreshment keeps our hearts fertile for God’s Word.
By obeying what we know God wants, avoiding the practice of judging others, and praying to God, our hearts will not only become fertile but stay fertile enough for God’s Word to grow in our lives.
Bottom Line: Jesus wants to change the condition of our hearts so his word can produce fruit in our lives.
This summer, most of us have a little extra free time. We all have an opportunity to be in God’s Word more this summer, and I want to invite you to begin the practice of allowing God’s Word to plant seeds into your fertile hearts. If we allow God’s Word to sprout, grow and flourish in our hearts, we will be forever rich in God’s truth!
How often do you read your Bible?
How often do you think we should read the Bible?
What are some of the reactions you have when you read the Bible?
Has anybody ever reacted with surprise or fear when reading the Bible? Why?
Why do we have the Bible? Why is it important to read the Bible?
What are some things you can do so that you'll take the time to read God’s Word?
Reread Matthew 13:1-9:
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9)
More questions for discussion:
When was the last time you were on a beach?
If you could grow any kind of crop what kind of crop would you grow?
What stood out to you in today’s story?
The farmer threw seeds everywhere…what type of soil best describes you? (you may need to review the different soils)
If our hearts are “rocky”, “thorny” or “infested with birds” what can we do to make our hearts fertile?
When God’s truth grows in our hearts what is the outcome? How will our lives be different?
Our Father God left us something awesome…the Bible. When we read the Bible we are going to react in some way. For some of us we may embrace God’s truth, while others of us may have a tougher time…that’s OK! We all have different reactions. But what is important that we all try to become fertile soil for God’s truth to grow inside of us. When God’s truth grows inside of us we become what God created us to be: world changers.