The only conversions that count in the kingdom are those confirmed by a life of discipleship. Jesus sowed the Word widely, but not all his hearers persevered in discipleship. What was true of the crowds that followed Jesus is also true of the crowds who claim to be his disciples today. Many who have raised their hands in evangelistic crusades or even attended church regularly will be surprised on the day of judgment that Jesus never knew them (7:21-22). Whether the message went in one ear and out the other (13:19), whether someone began the Christian life eagerly and then abandoned it because it entailed too much hardship or persecution (vv. 20-21), whether one accepted the gospel but then backslid into complacency, seduced by other interests (v. 22), such people prove useless to the kingdom. Yet others will more than make up for the seed invested in them, becoming true disciples of the kingdom and spreading the true message of the kingdom to others (v. 23).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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