3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:3-8 (New International Version)
The Farmer and the Gospel
The purpose of the parables which Jesus taught was to teach us how to honor God. The parable of the sower, which Jesus taught in Matthew 13, explained the various ways people react when they hear the message of Christ. How does a story about a farmer scattering seed tell us about the responses people have to the Gospel?
Receptive Soil= Receptive Heart
In farming, a seed can only grow in soil that’s receptive to it. Receptive soil is soft and clear of any obstructions. These obstructions include weeds, rocks, and even animals like birds who would swoop down and consume the seed. Therefore, the ability of the soil to receive seed is effected by the things that are around it.
The soil in Jesus’s parable is a metaphor for the hearts of people. Like the soil, our hearts are effected by the things around us. These things in our environment can either produce or hinder our openness to the Gospel. Let’s examine each factor that can effect the soil, and our hearts, in Jesus’s parable.
The Hard Heart
In verse 4, Jesus tells us about the seed that fall on the path. The ground on the path is rock solid, preventing the seed from entering. As a result, the bird sees the seed and eats it. The path in this parable is the heart that’s hard and resistant to the Gospel. Things like pride, anger, and sin blind the hard hearted from seeing their need for Christ; and as a result, they treat the Message with contempt.
The Rocky Heart
The seed that fell in rocky soil in verse 5 represents the heart that I like to call the “bandwagon believer.” Such people are initially excited by the Gospel and they’re quick to join up without considering the cost of being a Christ follower. They haven’t examined their hearts and surrendered to God things like selfishness and comfort that would prevent them from having a strong foundation in Christ. As a result, when difficulties come as a result of their faith, they immediately revert back to their old ways.
The Thorny Heart
In verse 7, we learn about the seed that fell among thorns, which is basically a ground that’s filled with weeds. Like the rocky heart, people who have “weeds” in their hearts accept the Gospel with great joy but they’re unable to be productive in their faith. That’s because they’ve allowed material possessions to distract them from seeking the true riches which are found in God.
The Receptive Heart
Finally in verse 8, we learn about the seed that fell in good soil. This is the heart that’s receptive to the Gospel. These people have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and have determined themselves to follow the path which the Almighty has set before them, regardless of where it would take them. As a result of their faith, they become fruitful before the Lord and bring honor to their Savior.
Not a Passive Sower
These conditions of the heart mentioned in this parable aren’t set in stone. It’s possible for those who have either hard, rocky, or thorny hearts to become receptive to the Gospel. The Lord isn’t a passive sower of His seed. His desire is that all people would come and accept His Gospel.
The Power of the Message
We must never underestimate the power of God’s Message. His Gospel can till and break the hardest of hearts so that that His seed can enter it. The spiritual debris that hinders people in their faithful pursuit of God, He’ll clear away so that the seed can grow strong roots in them.
Never Stop Proclaiming
The Lord will never give up on His creation. Even when they reject His Good News at first, He’ll persist in pursuing them. Us Christians can attest to the love and devotion which God has for those who do not believe, for we too were just like them. Therefore, we must never stop proclaiming the Gospel. Let’s scatter His seed upon this earth and share in His joy when those who receive it grow into new life.
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