Four Kinds of Receivers

The first parable that Jesus spoke was that of the Sower. After a series of miracles, crowds had started to gather around Him. Soon enough, opposition arose. After healing ‘a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute’ (Matthew 12:22), the Pharisees remarked that, ‘It is only by Beelzebub the prince of demons that this fellow drives out demons’ (v24). Jesus then makes a distinction between His Kingdom and that of Satan, and cautions the Pharisees to be careful of what they speak. Probably after being slightly convinced that the power at work in Jesus was different ‘some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you’ (v38). Jesus refuses to offer a miracle and instead says, ‘none will be given to it (this generation) except the sign of the Prophet Jonah’ (v39).

Jesus takes them back to the Nineveh saga and says, ‘the men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and now one greater than Jonah is here’ (v41). Jesus then transitions to saying that ‘The Queen of the South will rise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here’ (v42). Jesus uses two men- Jonah and Solomon- to demonstrate that one greater than them was here. He also uses two others- men of Nineveh and Queen of the South- to demonstrate the effect of heeding to words of warning and wisdom. When Jonah started into the City of Nineveh, he proclaimed, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned’ (Jonah 3:4), the ‘Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth’ (v5). By heeding to God’s word, calling to God in truth, and turning from their wicked ways, God ‘did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened’ (v10).

For the Queen of Sheba, or the Queen of the South as Jesus refers, she made way to Jerusalem to listen in to wisdom. When she ‘heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions’ (1 Kings 10:1). When she sat with Solomon and he ‘answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her’ (v3). The Queen of Sheba was ‘overwhelmed’ (v5) by such wisdom and splendour, leading her to say, ‘The report heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes . . . Praise be to the Lord your God who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel’ (v9). She then lavished the King with gifts so ‘that never again were so many brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon’ (v10).

Jesus uses two different groups of individuals in two different settings who He says will act as witnesses to condemn this generation at the judgement –  Men of Nineveh, and the Queen of the South. This is because of their response to God’s Word, one of warning and one of wisdom. The men of Nineveh repented of their ways while the Queen of the South (Sheba) had interest, took action, listened, meditated, and responded with enthusiasm to the words of wisdom God spoke through Solomon. She did not settle on hearsay and personally took initiative to sit by Solomon face to face. She did not also settle on knowing surface level, but probed deeper into Solomon’s wisdom. When she had come to an understanding, she praised God and lavished what she had on Solomon. Jesus then declares that One greater that Jonah and Solomon (who spoke words from God) was here. And so Jesus embodies Himself as one speaking God’s very words of warning to the world, and wisdom to ‘he who has an ear, let him hear’ (11:v15, Revelation 2:7). After the comparisons, Jesus then proceeds to expound on the same matter using a parable on ‘that same day’ (Matthew 13:1).

‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell on 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 chocked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears let him hear’ (v3-9).

Interestingly, while Jesus was speaking this parable, He was in a ‘boat and sat in it, while the people stood on the shore’ (v2). Because with God there are no coincidences, Jesus purposefully positioned Himself in that setting, not just to deliver the parable, but to demonstrate it as He spoke it. He withdrew from the masses and sat in the boat as the farmer, and the words He was speaking were the seeds, and the different kinds of grounds where the seed fell were the crowds of people listening to Him- diverse people. Because Jesus can see the hearts of men, He saw four kinds of receivers gathered there and proceeds to explain the parable that spoke not only of the crowd gathered, but of the entire human race. Jesus compressed the human heart into four types in relation to how it receives the God’s Word – how it receives Him.

Receiver on the Path‘When anyone hears about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart’ (v19)

Receiver on Rocky Place – ‘Is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away’ (v20-21)

Receiver on Thorns – ‘Is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful’ (v22)

Receiver on Good Soil – ‘Is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown’ (v23)

The Bible not only exposes the human condition, but is also the remedy for our ills. And so for the Receiver on the Path, the remedy is; ‘Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it’ (Joshua 1:8). For the Receiver on Rocky Place, the remedy is; ‘Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God’ (Hebrews 6:1). The Receiver of Thorns is urged to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matthew 6:33). The Receiver on Good Soil always ought to know that the crop they produce is not because of them but because of the soil, the Holy Spirit who Jesus says will ‘teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you’ (John 14:26). And like the Queen of Sheba, they ought to return praises back to God and spread His Word.

7 thoughts on “Four Kinds of Receivers

  1. Pingback: Four Kinds of Receivers – NarrowPathMinistries

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