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Gateway to the Heart: A Transformed Mind – Part 2

Before We Talk About Transformation, Let’s Talk About a Formative Day

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.  And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow…— Matthew 13:1-3

Matthew 13:1-23 is categorized as a triple tradition narrative (Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-5), and in order to fully grasp the day in which Jesus shares the Parable of the Sower, we need to understand the day He had. The context of this day’s events establishes the importance of the mind in our transformation process. Therefore, we will better incorporate the other synoptic gospels to understand the activity, context, and crowd.

It was a Sabbath day (Matthew 12), and Jesus did what He customarily would do: visit the synagogue, teach/preach, heal the sick, deliver the demonic, share in large crowds, speak to small gatherings, call out His disciples, and be visited by His family (Mark 2:23-27, 3:1-34; Luke 8:1-21; and Matthew 12:1-48). By any standard of ministry, it would be considered a great day; however, it is often on the greatest days of spiritual victory that some of our most challenging obstacles and adversaries appear.

Imagine Jesus sitting in the synagogue on the Sabbath when a man with a withered hand crosses His path. Can He simply let the man go by without a word, a touch, or a demonstration of the Kingdom that He just proclaimed? I believe agape love and the Kingdom message compels Jesus to act in the moment. The result? A man whose hand was shriveled was completely restored. To some in the crowd, the obstacle to the miracle is doing something unlawful on the Sabbath. How ironic that the Lord of the Sabbath would be precluded from doing anything He is Lord over (Matthew 12:8).

Then we read the following, “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Matthew 12:14 [NASB95]). To get this fullness, let’s pause for a moment and recognize the language Matthew quotes to describe this moment. The use of the word “destroy” implies a level of death and suffering likened to the scenes found on the frontlines of war. This was not simply the destruction of the body but also of the persona and proclamation of who Jesus was and what He proclaimed and did.[1] To say the least, this was turning out to be an interesting day for Jesus, but it was not over yet. Good

In response, Jesus prudently withdraws yet continues to heal the sick; specifically, a man demon-possessed, blind, and mute. At this point, what had been a private conspiring of the Pharisees’ desire for Jesus’ destruction becomes a confrontation in accusing Jesus of being demon possessed (Matthew 12:24). This man who harbored demonic activity and could neither see nor speak would be a symbol of the confronters’ hearts. The question would be if the accusers would be willing to submit inwardly to the transformation of Christ that was demonstrated externally in the full recovery of mind, sight, and hearing that formerly afflicted man experienced. I believe this catalytic moment reveals the foundation of what Jesus is suggesting in this parable, with the soil conditions analogous to our hearts’ formation.

There is a principle in this catalytic moment that Jesus reveals to help us understand the Parable of the Sower, the transformation of the heart, and the importance of the renewed mind. Read the following reference closely as Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ accusation of Jesus being demon possessed or ruled.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. – Matthew 12:25

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Before We Talk About the Heart, Let’s Talk About the Mind

First, Jesus knows the Pharisees’ thoughts (ἐνθύμησις, – the process of considering something, thought, reflection, or idea) and recognizes the importance of the mind as a gatekeeper to the heart (Matthew 12:25).[2] This would not be the first time He makes this connection of mind and heart (Matthew 9:4; Luke 11:17). In Matthew 9, after healing the paralytic and forgiving his sins, the scribes proclaim him a blasphemer and again, Jesus knowing their thoughts, says, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4). Both the scribes and Pharisees had created ideological frameworks that were replacing and resisting the revealed truths of the Kingdom that Jesus was proclaiming and doing.

Gary Black suggests that the transformation of the mind is the replacing and redeeming of our own ideological systems in the world (consisting of thoughts, images, and ideas) with those of Christ-likeness (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:9-14; Philippians 2:5; and Romans 12:2).[2] Black goes on to state that an important part of the transformation in Christ is for the mind to be challenged. Otherwise, the dangers of arrogance, pride, ignorance, and deception arise in the mind to protect against being wrong.[4] Additionally, the mind will seek to create an assumptive standard of God in the life of a disciple that leashes God to the limits of our ideas, imaginations, and thoughts.

3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Studies on the mind indicate that between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day travel through the brain at 260 mph. Many of them will be the same thoughts looping around and around our cranial highways.[5] Scientists now believe that each of these thoughts creates an actual physical pathway in the brain. The more you have a particular thought, the more you create that path, and the easier it becomes to have it again. To conceptualize this path, imagine a thought first entering your life as a wilderness trail, and once you have the thought, it becomes a footpath that, when traversed often enough, becomes a solid paved road. When we begin to conceive of what this means in our mind’s spiritual formation, actually changing it seems daunting. It is much like the stage of the limestone quarry at Butchart Garden before it is transformed through digging, plowing, and planting.

With this in mind, I would suggest that Jesus knew that one possible solution to having the scribes/Pharisees realign their ideological systems of the Kingdom would be to …

See the next post…

[1] 20.31 ἀπόλλυμιa; ἀπώλειαa, ας f; λυμαίνομαιb: To destroy or to cause the destruction of persons, objects, or institution s —‘to ruin, to destroy, destruction.’Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition, Vol. 1, p. 231). New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 336). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[3] Gary Black Jr., Transformation of the Mind (lecture, Azusa Pacific University, CA. July 2016).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Bruce Davis,“There Are 50,000 Thoughts Standing Between You and Your Partner Every Day,” Huffington Post, May 23, 2013,


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