And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: ‘Behold, a sower went out to sow’ (Matthew 13:2-3).
Have you ever tried to grow a plant in poor soil? It can be very frustrating to imbed, water, and provide sunlight to a particular type of plant only to watch it die because it was planted in poor soil?
Jesus taught a powerful lesson as He compared our hearts to different types of soils in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23). As described in the parable, the seed that is implanted in the soil (i.e. which represents a person’s heart) is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). As I consider this parable, it is good to ask, “Which kind of soil am I?” when it comes to how to I receive God’s Word.
As the sower went to sow, some seed was cast by the wayside where the birds of the air devoured them (Matthew 13:4). Jesus explains who this represents: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside” (Matthew 13:19). This describes the person who never makes the effort to understand God’s Word, so it never takes root in their life.
Other seed fell upon the “stony places” where seed sprang up, but because its roots were unable to penetrate deeply and get to the nourishing water, the plant withered away in the sunlight (Matthew 13:5-6). Again our Lord sheds light on the type of person this soil symbolizes: “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matthew 13:20-21). Although God’s Word sounds great to this type of person, they fail to heed God’s teachings to the extent that it impacts their lives (cf. Matthew 13:13-15). Thus, when persecution arises because of God’s Word, they wither away.
Additional seed was sown among thorns where it sprang up, but the thorns which also grew in the same soil choked the newborn plant and it never was able to flourish (Matthew 13:7). Christ describes the kind of person of whom this is indicative: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). This describes the person who is so wrapped up in the world and its desires that they fail to heed God’s Word and His desires for them!
Finally, some seed fell on “good ground” where not only did it survive, but it flourished! Why? It “yielded” to the Word of God (Matthew 13:8). Jesus states, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). This is the person who makes the effort to not only “hear” the Word of God, but also to “heed” the Word of God. They allow God’s Word to penetrate deep in their heart and soul and it transforms their life (cf. Romans 12:1-2).
As I look at these types of soils I can relate to all of them. I realize I am tempted to close my ears to God’s Word as did the wayside soil, fail to let it sink deeply in my life as did the stony soil, or let God’s Word be choked out of my life because I get to wrapped up with the of this world. However, today, I will choose to heed the Word of God that it may produce a bumper crop in my life!
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).