“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
(Matthew 13:18-23 ESV)
Two days ago we studied the passage in which Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who went out into his field to sow seed [Matthew 13:3b-9]. In today’s passage Jesus explains the spiritual lesson behind the parable. Each of the four soils on which seed fell illustrates a kind of receptivity to the gospel, which is represented by the seed.
Along the path: The soil described as the path represents those who do not understand Biblical truth and do not make any effort to do so either because they’re minds are closed or they are too lazy to put any effort into understanding it. It is the goal of Satan to convince people that God’s word is a lie or is too difficult to understand. A person who buys into such lies is unteachable. As we learned yesterday, understanding God requires effort.
Rocky ground: The soil described as rocky ground represents the one who responds very quickly to the gospel but whose response is entirely based on emotion (joy). Such a person endures for a while. But when tribulation or persecution arises because of the gospel (such as ridicule from friends or family), they fall away. Many critics of Christianity claim it is nothing more than an emotional experience. But this is not true. In fact many passages, including this one, are clear that God appeals to our minds not our emotions [Ephesians 1:17; 1 John 5:13].
Among the thorns: The third type of soil represents those who receive the gospel but who don’t place it first in their life. Instead, the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and worldly success take priority. Some of these things are not inherently bad. But they must come no better than second in a person’s life. Otherwise, the gospel will be unfruitful.
Good soil: The final type of soil is good soil. This represents the person who hears the word and understands it. They may not understand it initially. If not, they take the time to research it. They are open-minded. They don’t simply dismiss new information or information which they don’t immediately understand [Acts 17:10-11]. Such a person bears fruit by creating more believers in their life through their lifestyle and teaching.
If you are not a follower of Jesus, you fall into one of the first three types of soil. You’re mind is perhaps closed to the possibility that the Bible is true. Or you are only looking for an emotional experience that will quickly dissipate when the next fad comes along. Or you’re too enamored with the temporary things this life has to offer. All believers were once like this, of course. But God changed our hearts [Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26]. He’s willing to change your heart too.
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