Matthew 13:14, Hearing you will hear. In Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3–23), we are confronted with the difficult issue about who will receive the gospel message and thus enter into the kingdom of heaven and who will not. Put into modern vernacular, Yeshua is discussing who will receive YHVH’s free gift of salvation resulting in immortality and who and who will die in his sins to perish for eternity.
Yeshua’s discussion all started when his disciples asked him why he taught the people using parables. To them, it was as if he were deliberately obscuring the gospel message.
A superficial reading of his response in verse 15 to their question may imply not only a lack of impartiality but a brutal selectivity on the part of Elohim when it comes to determining who he will choose to receive the gift of salvation including the gift of immortality. If this is the conclusion one draws from Yeshua’s response, then what he said contradicts other scriptures that indicate Elohim’s unconditional love for the whole world and his desire that all be saved (John 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 2:9).
The fact is that a thorough reading of this passage shows us another important truth, which in no way impugns the character of Elohim, but instead leaves the onus on man.
After giving this parable, Yeshua quotes Isaiah the prophet (Isa 6:9–10), where we learn that it’s up to the individual as to how far they want to go with Elohim spiritually. All humans have eyes and ears to see and hear, but merely seeing or hearing doesn’t equate with understanding or perceiving. Sadly, many people want to dabble in religion, or to have a religious experience, but they don’t want to change their lives spiritually, to give up their sin, and then to submit to the will of Elohim by adhering to his commandments as revealed in his written Word, the Bible. This is because they have willfully hardened their hearts and closed their eyes (Matt 13:15). YHVH isn’t going to cram “religion,” so to speak, down their throats. For example, in the Gospel record, we read that many people followed Yeshua out of curiosity and in hopes of being healed or getting fed physically or seeing a miracle (John 6:26; Matt 12:39), but when he demanded obedience, many turned away from following him (John 6:66). The same is true of people today. Human nature, the condition of man’s heart, remains the same down through the ages. Though Yeshua calls many to follow him, few actually do (Matt 20:16; 22:14). Of the thousands who flocked to see Yeshua during his earthly ministry, only about 120 people remained faithful to him (Acts 1:15).
Why would Yeshua (and Isaiah) express reluctance at having some people come to saving faith in Elohim? The answer lies in the Parable of the Sower itself. Yeshua explains that the good seed of the gospel message is sown on various types of ground. Only that which is sown in the fertile soil produces fruit. Though the seed germinated and began to grow in the bad ground, it eventually died because of unfavorable external factors. Yeshua in explaining this parable to his disciples says that many people receive the good seed (i.e. they hear the gospel message), and they respond favorably to it initially, but they’re not willing to go all the way, for their hearts and minds are only open superficially. Once the excitement and emotions of their spur of the moment decision dies down, they go back to their old lifestyle. Peter describes those who initially respond favorably to the gospel, but turn away in this way in 2 Peter 2:20,
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Yeshua the Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
Of those who are superficially converted but turn away, Yeshua, elsewhere likens such a person to a house that gets cleaned and swept spiritually of evil spirits, but if that person doesn’t guard his house to keep it clean, the evil spirits will come back in greater force than before to repossess the house. Yeshua exclaimed that the latter state of the man is worse than his first state (Matt 12:43–45).
It is perhaps for these reasons that, though Yeshua clearly desires all to be saved in a general sense, he only wants those who will be serious about their spiritual walk actually to be saved. This lessens the possibility of those who are less serious from making spiritual commitments, getting saved, then falling away into a worse spiritual state than before. Yeshua values quality over quantity when it comes to his disciples.
What’s more, he spoke the mysteries of the kingdom in parables, so that those who were serious would be forced to take the step of faith necessary to gain understanding. Those who are unwilling to push forward in the pursuit of truth aren’t worthy to have the mysteries of the kingdom entrusted to them. It would be like casting pearls before swine or giving that which is holy to the dogs, as Yeshua elsewhere states (Matt 7:6). Again, many are called and few are chosen.