“Lesson 15: Matthew 13:1–23,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 15,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
While the Savior was in Galilee, a great multitude came to Him. The Savior taught the people using parables, beginning with the parable of the sower.
Show students a small container filled with soil.
What are some characteristics of fertile soil? Of soil that is not fertile?
Explain that in Matthew 13:1–23, we read that the Savior compared different kinds of soil to the degrees of openness or spiritual receptivity of people’s hearts. Invite students as they study these verses to consider which kind of soil is most like the current condition of their heart.
Invite a student to read Matthew 13:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how Jesus taught the multitude in Galilee.
How did Jesus teach the multitude? (In parables.)
Invite students to silently read the first two paragraphs under the entry “Parables” in the Bible Dictionary.
What is a parable?
Explain that a parable is “a simple story used to illustrate and teach a spiritual truth or principle. A parable is based on comparing an ordinary object or event to a truth” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Parable,” scriptures.lds.org).
According to Matthew 13:3, what was the Savior’s parable about? (Explain that to sow means to spread or plant seed.)
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 13:4–9. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the four types of soil the sower’s seeds fell on.
What kinds of soil did the sower’s seeds fall on?
Draw on the board illustrations that depict the four types of soil, and invite the students to make similar drawings in their class notebooks or on paper you provide for them.
Explain that a wayside is a path near fields that becomes hardened as people walk on it. The hardness of the wayside prevents seeds from taking root in the soil. Stony places are rocky surfaces covered by a thin layer of soil. Though seeds can develop shallow roots, the rock that lies just below the surface prevents the roots from going deeper. The ground with thorns is fertile soil, but the thorns crowd out the plants by depriving them of light, water, and needed nutrients. The good ground is fertile soil with sufficient depth for healthy roots.
Summarize Matthew 13:10–13 by explaining that the Savior’s disciples asked Him why He taught in parables. The Savior explained that parables revealed the mysteries or truths of the kingdom of heaven to those who were ready to receive them, while hiding the meaning from those who were spiritually unprepared (see New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 45).
Invite a student to read Matthew 13:14–15 aloud, and ask the class to look for what prevented the people from understanding the truths the Savior taught.
What did the Savior say prevented the people from seeing, hearing, and understanding the truths He taught? (Explain that the phrase “this people’s heart is waxed gross” means the people’s hearts had become hard and insensitive.)
On the board next to the drawing of the wayside soil, write the following incomplete statement: If we harden our hearts, then …
According to verse 15, what blessings can we lose if we harden our hearts? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following principle: If we harden our hearts, then we will not understand the word of God, be converted to the Savior, and be healed by Him.)
What does it mean to be converted to the Savior and healed? (To be changed and purified through His Atonement so that our beliefs, heart, and life are in harmony with Heavenly Father’s will and we are freed from the burden of sin.)
Summarize Matthew 13:16–17 by explaining that Jesus told His disciples that they were blessed because they had eyes to see and ears to hear.
Refer again to the drawing on the board of the wayside soil. Invite a student to read Matthew 13:18–19 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior compared to the seed, the wayside, and the birds mentioned in Matthew 13:4.
What does the seed represent? (Label the drawing of the seed The word of God.)
What kind of heart does the wayside represent? (Label the drawing of the wayside Understands not the truth [a hardened heart].)
What do the birds represent? Who is “the wicked one”? (Label the drawing of the birds Satan and his servants.)
How might the Savior’s teachings about the wayside help us further understand the principle that if we harden our hearts, then we will not understand the word of God, be converted to the Savior, and be healed by Him?
Refer to the drawing on the board of the stony ground.
What do the plants that grew in the stony places represent? (Label the drawing of the plants in the stony places Testimony that is not deeply rooted.)
What does the heat of the sun represent? (Above the drawing of the plants with shallow roots, write Tribulations, persecutions, and temptations.)
Write the following incomplete statement on the board next to the drawing of the stony ground: Unless we strive to deepen our testimonies …
Based on what you learned from Matthew 13:20–21 and Luke 8:13, how would you complete this statement? (After students have responded, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: Unless we strive to deepen our testimonies, we may lack the strength necessary to endure tribulations, persecutions, and temptations.)
Refer to the drawing on the board of the thorny ground. Invite students to read Matthew 13:22 silently and look for what the thorns represent.
What do the thorns represent? (Label the drawing of the thorns Cares of the world.)
What are some examples of the “cares of the world”? (Worldliness, greed, or temporal distractions that take us away from God.)
What principle can we learn from this verse about what the cares of the world can do to our faith and testimony? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board next to the drawing of the thorny ground: The cares of the world can distract us, remove our focus from the Lord, and choke our faith and testimony of the word of God.)
Refer to the drawing on the board of the good soil. Invite a student to read aloud Matthew 13:23 and the portion of Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:21, found in Matthew 13:23, footnote b. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the good soil represents.
To help students understand the significance of the word endureth in Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:21, point out that the plants in the good ground were exposed to the same heat of the sun (representing tribulations, persecutions, and temptations) as the withered plants in the stony ground.
How would you summarize what the good soil represents? (Label the drawing of the good soil One who hears and understands the word of God and endures tribulations, persecutions, and temptations.)
What principle can we learn from the Savior’s teachings about the good soil? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board next to the drawing of the good soil: As we receive the word of God, understand it, and endure tribulations, persecutions, and temptations, we will become converted to the Savior.)
To help students further understand the principles they have identified, invite four students to each read one of the following scenarios aloud. After each is read, invite the class to explain which principle the scenario illustrates:
A young man spends most of his time studying so he can be accepted to a prestigious university. When he is not studying, he is busy working. He tells himself that he doesn’t have time to read the scriptures, pray, or attend church.
A young woman used to love attending church each Sunday. However, as she grew older some of her friends began to mock her because of her standards. She has begun to break some of the commandments. She no longer feels comfortable at church and has lost the desire to attend.
A young man regularly attends church, but he rarely participates and does not open his heart to the influence of the Holy Ghost. He has been reading information online that challenges important Church doctrines, and he questions whether he still believes in the truthfulness of the gospel.
A young woman attends church and quietly prays that she can be receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. When she receives promptings, she acts on them. She feels close to the Lord and is grateful for the ways she has been inspired to overcome temptation.
Explain to students that hearts, like soil, can change and be improved. Write the following questions on the board or provide them to students as a handout. Invite students to read and discuss the questions with a partner:
After sufficient time, invite a few students to report their responses to the class.
How has seeking to receive and understand the word of God helped you become more deeply converted to the Savior?
Invite students to ponder which soil best represents the condition of their heart right now. Invite students to set a goal regarding what they will do to better receive and understand the word of God and to endure tribulations, persecutions, and temptations. If time permits, invite students to write their goals in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.