Yesterday we heard a story Jesus told about one seed being planted in four different soils, that all respond quite differently.

  • The path is hard beaten with no protection. The seed stays on the surface, and birds snatch it up.
  • The rocky ground does not have enough soil, so although it began growing, that seed died when the sun came out.
  • The seed that grew near thorns started to grow as well, but then the weeds choked it out.
  • Finally there is good soil – but even then it produces grain in varying quantities.

Thankfully, Jesus actually explains what this parable means!

“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)

The path are people who hear about the kingdom, but don’t understand it. This was not a matter of education. Those who are looking for God’s kingdom, find it in Jesus. When people hear Jesus’ words and are looking for
controversy, mistakes, or affirmation of their own beliefs, then it’s like a bird snatched it away. The evil one who doesn’t want God’s kingdom to come can poison our hearts in this way today, too.

The rocky ground – hears the word, receives it with joy. But the minute trials come, he abandons the idea. People do this today, by hopping from church to church to avoid anyone really knowing and challenging them, but still enjoying the experience of worship. Or when people decide to become Christians, but then find it harder than they expected, especially if they weren’t rooted in a church community to support and encourage them.

The thorns – The seed took root but the cares and deceitfulness of riches choke the word. Wealth means we don’t know true desperation, and our faith in Jesus can be driven by convenience, interest, or tradition rather than having truly thrown ourselves, all our hopes and dreams, or even our very survival on the line for Jesus. It’s easy to say we follow Jesus but to hang on tight to our possessions and ignore all he said about generosity. That’s when the thorns choke us out.

Finally, there is good soil, and even within that there is good soil that God uses differently. Some bear hundred times what you’d expect, some sixty, some thirty. That’s a function of God and how he chooses to use the soil, not the soil itself.
Those looking for God’s kingdom would find it in Jesus and his teaching, but those looking for knowledge, moralism or wealth would walk away confused.

Question: I’m sure we all want to consider ourselves good soil, but it’s worth considering, what other kind of soil are you most likely to be?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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