Have you ever watched something grow?
You plant a seed, water it, fertilize it, pull weeds around it, and then suddenly a little green shoot begins to break through the soil and push its way into the light. This seedling then has to be nurtured, watered, fertilized, and cared for until it is mature enough to bear fruit.
Jesus once told a story about seeds.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 13:3-9, NIV).
Jesus’ disciples didn’t really understand what He was talking about, so He explained the parable to them:
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the sword, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:19-23, NIV).
I find it interesting that the first group to have the message snatched away were the ones who didn’t really understand it. I wonder what they misunderstood? Did they think if they joined a church or became religious that somehow everything would change? Many people confuse religion with relationship. Religion will work for a while, because it brings stability, order, new relationships, a new environment. But without a true relationship with Jesus, the devil will quickly snatch away whatever seed was sown.
These are the ones who had the seed sown along the path. In other words, the seed wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t in the right environment for growth. How about your heart? Are you allowing God’s Word to fall in the rich soil of a heart that is hungry, not for religion, but for Jesus?
The second group represents those who received the Word with joy, but they fell away when trouble or persecution came because they had no root. These are the ones who had the seed fall on rocky places. They heard the truth and were even excited about it, but they were in a rocky place – not really ready to turn their hearts from sin and to the One who could save them.
These shallow hearts don’t have enough soil for the seed to take root, and a strong root is what weathers storms. What about your heart? Do your grieve over sin and long for more of Jesus and His Word in your life? Do you take the time to go deep in your study of God’s Word?
The third group Jesus talked about were those who received the Word but let the world distract them from following Christ. Jesus described their soil as a thorny place. They also believed in the message they heard, but they were not willing to deal with the weeds of life that crowded out any potential growth. Material concerns were more important than seeking a personal relationship with Jesus.
But oh, when that seed fell on good soil – what a miracle took place! Jesus said that the one who heard the Word and understood it produced a crop “yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Good soil – what does that mean?
I believe Jesus is describing one with a pure heart that is convicted of sin, truly turns away from that sin, and surrenders his life to God. He seeks the things of God above all else in his life; he hungers and thirsts for God’s presence, for God’s Word, and for times of worship. He seeks to love others and serve those around him. That’s the fertile soil that will yield a crop.
What about you? What have you done with the seed of the Gospel? Is your heart nurturing that seed that it might grow to maturity, or are you holding on to empty religion in shallow dirt and thorns?
The evil one is real. Trouble and persecution will come.
If the Gospel seed has been sown in your heart, water it with worship, fertilize it with God’s Word, nurture it with Christian fellowship, and weed out the sin in your life.
“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6, NIV, emphasis added).
What do you think it means to have the seed sown in good soil? How can we make that practical in our lives? Join the conversation with your comments below!