Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Jesus taught in parables both to reveal and conceal truths. There is more in even apparently simple statements than immediately meets the eye in what Jesus taught. What for instance does it mean, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”?
How about the parable of the wheat and the tares. Why would the Lord advise to let them grow up together? So many fun things to learn in today’s podcast. You can access today’s podcast here:
It is also available on the following podcast platforms. Listen in your car, while you are working on something else, during Sunday study time, or any time that you want to think about this week’s curriculum. And please tell your friends. Share it on Facebook or Instagram. The only way others will know about it is if you tell them.
Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.
Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.
Approximate Transcript of Podcast
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Podcast—We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this week’s Podcast is on some of the Parables of Jesus found in Matthew Chapter 13; Luke chapters 8 and 13. The title of this lesson is “Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear.”
We’re going to talk about that very saying later on in the lesson.
Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music that opens and closes this Podcast.
We learn something wonderful from the Prophet Joseph’s life that is a great example for all of us.
(Start with quotes about Joseph Smith knowing the scriptures SO well from TPC, Joseph Smith, p. 293)
(Joseph’s amazing Knowledge of the Scriptures)
“The Prophet’s writings and sermons are filled with scriptural quotations and interpretations, for he had studied the scriptures so extensively that they became an integral part of his thinking. In his teachings, he quoted scriptures directly, he alluded to them, he paraphrased them, and he used them as the foundation for his sermons. “I know the scriptures and understand them,” he declared in April 1844.
Can we say the same about us? Isn’t that a wonderful pattern and example?
Let’s read further:
“[Joseph’s] extraordinary knowledge of the scriptures allowed him to teach and interpret them with great power and clarity, and many who heard him speak remembered this ability. President Brigham Young recalled that the Prophet could “take the scriptures and make them so plain and simple that everybody could understand.”
Shouldn’t we be striving for this same thing in our homes and families?
Listen how one brother, who knew the Prophet Joseph well, recounted Joseph’s knowledge of the scriptures:
“Wandle Mace recalled: “I have listened to the Prophet Joseph Smith in public and in private, in sunshine and in shower, as many others have done as he taught them from the stand. And in my own, and in his house, I have been familiar with him … and do know that no man could explain the scriptures, throw them wide open to view so plainly that none could misunderstand their meaning, except he had been taught of God.
“I have sometimes felt ashamed of myself because, having studied the scriptures so much, even from a child, I had not seen that which was so plain when he touched them. He, as it were, turned the key, and the door of knowledge sprang wide open, disclosing precious principles, both new and old.”
The Prophet Joseph really set an example for us, didn’t he.
Now, Jesus taught in Parables.
We only have record of at least 23 different parables that Jesus taught. Our record is small—but we love what we do have and can learn great things from those that we have.
A parable is a story with a hidden meaning. The word Parable in the Greek means a setting side by side—or a comparison. We see everyday things presented that are then able to be understood with divine truths. Remember: These are not just stories. They are meant to be understood at multiple levels and depths and in different eras and dispensations.
A parable is designed to conceal AND reveal eternal truths.
The parable of the sower is a special one because the Lord Himself not only gives it in verses 3 through 9, but as an added bonus He tells His disciples the meaning in verses 18-23.
Let’s give an image for you about how seeds were sowed anciently which gives this parable more context. The sower would walk with a bag, filled with holes. Or animals would be driven through with bags, and thus the seeds were sometimes scattered, not landing on the soil as they were intended.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave an entire talk on the Parable of the Sower from the April 2015 general conference. This is a great talk to go over as a family or in individual study so that you can come to understand this parable more deeply.
Let’s look at some of these things and try to understand how to apply them in our lives and families and hearts.
Elder Oaks teaches us about the stony ground with no root:
“This is the circumstance of new members who are merely converted to the missionaries or to the many attractive characteristics of the Church or to the many great fruits of Church membership. Not being rooted in the word, they can be scorched and wither away when opposition arises. But even those raised in the Church–long-term members–can slip into a condition where they have no root in themselves. I have known some of these–members without firm and lasting conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not rooted in the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices, any one of us can develop a stony heart, which is stony ground for spiritual seeds.
Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong.”
Elder Oaks talks about the seeds that fall among thorns:
The most subtle thorns to choke out the effect of the gospel word in our lives are the worldly forces that Jesus called the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). These are too numerous to recite. Some examples will suffice…
We surrender to the “pleasures of this life” (1) when we are addicted, which impairs God’s precious gift of agency; (2) when we are beguiled by trivial distractions, which draw us away from things of eternal importance; and (3) when we have an entitlement mentality, which impairs the personal growth necessary to qualify us for our eternal destiny.
We are overcome by the “cares … of this life” when we are paralyzed by fear of the future, which hinders our going forward in faith, trusting in God and His promises.
I love one statement Elder Oaks says that really helps us understand this parable:
“The Savior’s examples could cause us to think of this parable as the parable of the soils. The suitability of the soil depends upon the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seed. In susceptibility to spiritual teachings, some hearts are hardened and unprepared, some hearts are stony from disuse, and some hearts are set upon the things of the world.”
How is our soil? This is a really good question to ponder.
Most of you have done a garden or have a garden now or even some flower beds. You know how important soil is for growing productive vegetables and beautiful flowers. You have to have good soil. You have to work the soil. You have to fertilize it and break it up and water it and put in the right minerals and sometimes other things to break it down if it is too hard.
Elder Oaks teaches: “We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6–7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:12–14) that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.” End of quote.
There are, of course, other things that make our soil good for receiving the word.
It’s amazing, for example, how when we are serving others, for example, our hearts become softened and our soil is much more capable of receiving the Spirit—and personal revelation.
This includes serving others in the Temple. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, our soil is worked and refined and tilled and broken up to receive the word.
This reminds me of Alma 32 verse 28 (see how this applies to having good soil):
Alma 32: 28
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves–It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Remember the Prophet Amulek when he first introduces himself to his listeners—reflect on his words and what kind of soil he had in his heart to this point in his life:
This is in Alma 10: 5, 6:
5 Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.
6 Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges.
That statement of Amulek’s is so worthy of consideration in relation to this Parable of the Sower—or the Parable of the Soils: “I was called many times and I would not hear—therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know…”
How many times do we resist the Spirit of the Lord in our lives?
I remember receiving a letter once from my Mother on my mission in Germany and she said this to me: “Scot, I believe that 95% of the missionaries are given inspiration and guidance about 100% of the time, but few of them follow those promptings. Pay attention to those promptings in every particular.”
After I got that note I thought I would be more careful in trying to follow that specific promptings that I received. I wanted my soil to be rich and fertile and productive.
That very next day I tried to listen carefully to whatever I would be told.. We rang one buzzer and the lady said, “Ja bitte.” That’s the standard thing we heard, kind of like, “What do you want?” We started with our standard approach: “Guten Morgan.. Wir sind Representanten der Kirke Jesu Christi der Heiligan der Letzen Tage and wir haben eine ganz wichtige botschaft fur sie and ihre Familie.” The woman immediately said, “Keine interesse.” NO INTEREST. And she started to close the door. At that point the Spirit said to me, “Ask her what kind of dog she has.” As the door was shutting I said, “Wasfur ein Hund haben Sie?” What kind of dog do you have? “Also, Ich habe ein Schaeferhund.” Ah, sehr gut! I habe Hunde so sehr gern.” I like dogs so much! She then said, of course, in German: Would you two like to come in? We were able to have a five minute discussion about dogs and then a 55 minute discussion about the plan of salvation that left the woman feeling the Spirit.
My soil was able to receive the word and this woman was blessed that day.
So Jesus taught with parables—even as the Sower who was sewing His seed by the way and His listeners had various kinds of soil.
Let’s look at the explanatory part of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13: verses 18-23:
[Discuss verse by verse back and forth]
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
[Explanation of the reason for parables]
The Lord gave these parables, as we said, to conceal and to reveal eternal truths. Many of Jesus’ followers understood this only as a simple story of farming. Some understood this as the story that it was meant to be—to teach the law of the harvest and to have our hearts prepared to receive the word of the Lord and to be profitable servants and bring forth much fruit as we follow the promptings of the Spirit of the Lord.
Matthew 13: 12—whosoever hath, to him shall be given…
We are taught throughout the scriptures that as we receive the word or receive light of virtue of knowledge then we are able to receive more and more:
D&C 50: 24: That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (also v. 25: And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you.—Which also brings us back to v. 23: And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
We do need to do everything to chase darkness from among us—in our homes—in our hearts—in our work places (as much as possible). This gives us some clear thinking on what to do. Inappropriate movies, music, books, magazines, Internet sites, searches. All these things.
I remember a member of our stake presidency in Virginia once was talking about magazines that we don’t take but that might be sitting around while we are waiting at the barber shop, getting our oil changed or at the doctor’s office. There may be an inappropriate article that we would never read at home, but perhaps we think it’s okay to read there in these few moments we have. Don’t do it. CHASE DARKNESS FROM AMONG YOU.
We read in D&C 93:28—He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
Part of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood: D&C 84:45—For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Further in Matthew 13 we read of the Parable of the man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat…
The darnel vs. the wheat. They look similar. One is life-sustaining, the other can cause convulsions and even death.
An enemy hath done this. Being on our guard—always.
Though in the outward Church below
both wheat and tares together grow;
Ere long will Jesus weed the crop,
And pluck the tares, in anger up.
Mozart and lyrics by John Newton.
The Explanation for this parable is given by the Lord in v. 36-43 of Matthew 13.
And as yet another added bonus—we have another revelation and interpretation on this parable in Doctrine and Covenants 86: verses 1-7.
This reminds us that the scriptures are often the greatest commentary on the scriptures.
1 Nephi 10:14—Commentary on the scattering and gathering of Israel
14 And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.
And look at Jacob 6:5—Great commentary on repentance
5 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts.
Watch for these commentaries right in the scriptures—they are everywhere!
v. 31-32. A grain of mustard seed.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Joseph Smith gave us a view of this parable:
“Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering with lofty branches and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven [see Psalm 85:11; Moses 7:62], and God is sending down His powers, gifts, and angels to lodge in the branches thereof.”
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed. Behold, then, is not this the Kingdom of Heaven that is raising its head in the last days in the majesty of its God, even The Church of [Jesus Christ] [of] Latter-day Saints, like an impenetrable, immovable rock in the midst of the mighty deep, exposed to the storms and tempests of Satan, that has, thus far, remained steadfast, and is still braving the mountain waves of opposition, which are driven by the tempestuous winds of sinking crafts, which have [dashed] and are still dashing with tremendous foam across its triumphant brow; urged onward with redoubled fury by the enemy of righteousness? …
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Joseph Smith, p. 301)
Let’s look briefly at the parable of the leaven:
v. 33: Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
We are the leaven. One member of the Church only in a family. You are the leaven. A few active families in a small community. You are the leaven. A very strong leader in a relief society. You are the leaven. A temple in a nation is a leaven. What we’ve noticed wherever we go (didn’t used to notice this): Oh, yes, my niece is a member of your Church. Or, I have a friend at work who is a member of your Church (he is the leaven). My aunt joined your Church. She is the leaven. I had a friend growing up in high school who was a member of the Church. She is the leaven. Etc. Being a leaven. And people ask us why we have a-leven children. Duh. Ha!
V. 43: Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Notice that saying: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This is usually in the scriptures to remind the reader that here is a hidden mystery to be found or in some cases it means: here is a temple reference. In this case it’s both.
In ancient times the temple initiate was anointed or smeared with holy oil (we have talked about this before)—and he or she would become “an anointed one”—and when that oil was smeared on their head or their forehead it would give a certain sheen or shine to it—it would literally reflect the light of the sun—which is likened unto us reflecting the light of the Son of God. Remember the name of the Savior is Christus in the Greek or Messiah (me she ak) in the Hebrew—which means the anointed one. Temple initiates, those who are willing to follow him absolutely, become anointed ones—like unto the Savior. Hence, the work Christian means anointed ones. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Parable of the Pearl of Great Price in v. 45 and 46.
We love this parable. What are we willing to sell to obtain that Pearl of Great Price?
Lamoni’s Father in the Book of Mormon.
Remember the story?
- He would give away half of his kingdom to have his life spared (when he knew Ammon could slay him)—Alma 20:23
- Then he says (when he learns of the Plan of Salvation): “I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.” Alma 22:15
- But he goes one step further: Alma 22:18—O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou are God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, AND I WILL GIVE AWAY ALL MY SINS TO KNOW THEE…” There’s the key.
Back to our parable of the Pearl of Great Price—are we willing to give away all our sins—all that we have—to obtain this Pearl?
Just two more quick notes to talk about in this lesson:
In Matthew 13: 55,56: We see the earthly family of Jesus in these verses:
Joseph, Mary, his brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas (each of these would have been called James bar Joseph, Joses bar Joseph, Simon bar Joseph and Judas bar Joseph—and we see that Jesus has at least two sisters, likely more—but we do not know their names.
We sometimes forget that Jesus had a family—a mother—a caretaker father (Joseph) four brothers and two or more sisters. Jesus was not alone in his upbringing.
Let’s turn in closing to Luke Chapter 8: verses 1-3
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
These verses help us see clearly that Jesus was followed by a number of disciples in his ministry—including some very faithful women. They ministered unto him of their substance—they are helping to take care of his daily needs for nutrition and care of his clothes and whatever mortality required of him. This is very tender to think about numerous disciples following Him throughout His ministry and ministering to Him.
How would that be to minister to the Lord? And yet that’s what we have the opportunity to do often as we minister to our brothers and sisters in the gospel and to our kindred dead in the temple.
Thanks for joining us this week.
Next week’s lesson will cover parts of Matthew chapters 14 and 15, Mark chapters 6 and 7 and John chapters 5 and 6 and is entitled: Be Not Afraid.
Please share this podcast with your friends. Ldsmag.com/podcast.
See you next week.