Matthew 13 reveals that there are many mysteries related to the kingdom of the heavens. The parables in this chapter are not merely teachings or stories; they are mysteries difficult for people to apprehend. They are mysteries, just as human life, the human spirit, and the psychological heart are mysteries. We do have some limited understanding concerning our mind, conscience, heart, spirit, and life, but they still remain mysteries. The parable of the sower is likewise a mystery. Other mysteries of the kingdom include the parable of the tares, the mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure, the pearl, and the net. In Matthew 13 there are at least seven mysteries.
To understand these mysteries we need an open heart and we also need to be poor in spirit. The Lord told the disciples that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to the others it was not given because their hearts were hardened and their spirits were filled with other things (Matt. 13:11-15). The Lord turned away from those who were hardened and filled with other things. We need to pray: "Lord, grant us to be poor in our spirit. Sweep away all other things. Sweep away the doctrines and the old Bible knowledge. Lord, empty our spirit and make us poor in spirit. In our spirit we cling to nothing." You need to pray in this way. Otherwise, even after reading all these chapters, you will receive nothing. May the Lord keep us from having anything old in our spirit. Likewise, we need a pure and open heart toward the Lord. When we are poor in spirit and our heart is open toward the Lord, the revelation will immediately come and we will understand the mysteries of the kingdom.
First of all, the Lord Jesus likened Himself to a sower, not a teacher. Many Christians only consider Him as a great teacher. According to the record in John 3, Nicodemus approached the Lord saying, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God." Immediately the Lord told him he needed to be born from above. The Lord Jesus did not come as a teacher to teach us the doctrine of the kingdom; He came to sow the kingdom into us. The Bible reveals that this seed is the Lord Jesus Himself. He is both the sower and the seed. He came as the sower to sow Himself into us as the seed of life.
In the four Gospels the seed is sown into the earth. In Acts, the seed produces a tender sprout. In the Epistles we find the gradual growth and blossoming, and in Revelation we have the harvest. Revelation 14 declares that the harvest is ripe. The Lord Jesus as the seed was sown in the Gospel of Matthew. This seed grows up into a sprout in the book of Acts. In the Epistles we see the growth and blossoming of the seed, and eventually there will be a harvest in the book of Revelation.
In the parable of the sower, the seed is sown into the earth, which represents our being. We are the earth. First Corinthians 3:9 says that we are God’s farm (Gk.). Not every place on the earth is good for sowing seed. A farmer knows this and always selects the best spot to sow his seed. He knows that some places do not afford the seed an opportunity to grow. Our human spirit is the place for the Lord Jesus to sow Himself into us, and our heart is the place for Him to grow in us. He sows Himself into our spirit, and He grows Himself into our heart.
The opening words of the Lord’s teachings in Matthew 5 were, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." This was the first item that He covered. Many Christians have missed this! The Lord Jesus made the human spirit the first item, but most Christians have made it the last item, even counting it as nothing. Following this the Lord said, "Blessed are the pure in heart" (v. 8).
The truth of the human spirit is sown in Matthew 5, and it is developed in many verses throughout the Epistles. Likewise, the truth of the human heart is sown in Matthew 5:8, and it grows in the Epistles. The book of Revelation also contains several verses about the human spirit. For instance, in 1:10 John said, "I was in spirit on the Lord’s day." In 4:2 John again said he was in spirit. In 17:3 and 21:10 he said that he was carried away in spirit. The book of Revelation contains the harvest of the truth of the human spirit.
Thus, the first item that was sown in Matthew was the human spirit, and the second was the human heart. These two items were mentioned first because they are the very places for the Lord to sow Himself and then to spread Himself. When the Lord Jesus comes into a person, He enters not the heart, but the spirit. As we have pointed out already, 1 Peter 3:4 says that the spirit is the center, the very hub of our heart. It is the hidden man of the heart. Our heart surrounds our spirit. The spirit is the specific spot where the Lord Jesus enters into a man. From there He is seeking the opportunity to spread into every part of the heart.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)