Today we join Jesus on the seashore again. He is teaching in parables to a VERY large crowd. So large that He had to get in a boat again. I’m not sure if it was so that He could be heard by everyone or if it was to protect Him from being crushed again.
The parable in our reading today is a familiar one, as we also looked at it in Matthew 13:1-9. I love this parable but I’m running into trouble with what to write concerning it. When we looked at in Matthew we took two days to go over it. We looked at The Sower (The Farmer) first, and then we looked at The Crowd. Maybe I should have saved one or the other for Mark telling of the events. Just in case you wanted to have a look back, I linked this post back to the ones from Matthew.
I feel like today we should to take a look at the seed. We know from listening to many of Jesus’ parables and the explanations He gave His disciples, that the seed is the word of God. We also know from Isaiah 55:10-11 that God’s word accomplishes what it was sent out to do. So how does this relate to the four different kinds of soil in our parable?
The first soil is the wayside, or beside the path. The seed that falls here doesn’t even have a chance to grow. The birds, or the enemy, swoop in and snatch it up right away. So what happens to this seed? So does that mean that seed was void? If you stop and think about it, the birds were fed with that seed. I have noticed that people who are hostile to the word still take in what is being said. They actually have to hear it to even know what to disagree with; and they can’t un-hear it. And just like the bird, it does something inside them. We may never know what that something is, but God does. They may burry that little seed in the most hostile of environments, but you can just about bank on the fact that when they face mortal danger they will call on the Author of that message.
This reminds me of a joke that I want to share with you. If you don’t like jokes or think Christians aren’t supposed to tell jokes, simply skip this paragraph. One day a VERY devout atheist is out wandering in the woods. This man was known far and wide for his outspoken belief that there is no God. While out wandering he stumbled into a bear. He was terrified and the first thing he did was to call out to God for help. “God Help Me!” God looked down at him and said, “I thought you said I didn’t exist. Now you call on me? What makes you think I will help you after all that?” The man replies, “If You won’t help me, can you at least make the bear a Christian?” The bear then puts his paws together and says, “Thank You Lord for this meal I’m about to eat.” Truth got into this man somehow, just like it did for the bird.
The second soil is full of rocks and very shallow. The seed sown here actually starts growing. It grows for a time but then the “heat of the day” scorches and kills it. Is that the end of this seed? I don’t believe so. The person who has seen the truth in action and personally felt the impact it can have, is forever changed. This person would probably be someone who has asked for prayer for a difficulty they were facing and has seen God answer their prayer. KNOWING God moved on their behalf sparked something inside them. But they weren’t ready to turn loose of what the world had to offer yet. God is great for getting you out of trouble, but too restrictive for everyday life. Because this person has seen God in action they too are forever changed. The next time difficulty comes they will remember their past experience. It may take a while, but I think this person is on a collision path with Jesus.
The third soil is full of weeds. This person has made the commitment to Jesus and asked Him to be in PART of their life. They are ready to listen to what God has for them, so long as it doesn’t take up too much of their time. “I don’t have time to pray today, I have too much to do.” “Reading the bible is boring. They just tell the same stories over and over again. How can it pertain to me today? It was written centuries ago.” This seed is not void though, just a little slower in growing. The Holy Spirit’s work is needed here to begin to draw the person’s attention to the weeds and and the damage being done by not attending to them. Sometimes it takes a few trips through some hard places before this person is ready to do some weeding. I know because I’ve been there too.
The fourth soil is fertile ground with lots of nutrients and room for growing plants. This person is truly seeking God. Their heart is open to receive what He has for them, so when the seed lands, magic happens! The seed begins to grow right away. The harvest from this ground varies though. Jesus says, “yielding thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold” (verse 8). Why the different harvests you ask. Because of the soil, NOT the seed. One soil may have more fertilizer, or have better access to water, or maybe situated in better lighting. All these things though can be improved on in the lesser producing soil to increase the yield, but the individual has to be willing to do the work.
The seed always had a hundredfold capacity in it, but the kind of soil it landed in impacted the yield. I don’t believe there is a natural hundredfold field out there just waiting for the seed to drop in it. I believe those fields probably started out as the rocky ground and the ground with the weeds. Some were probably even the wayside soil. When the seed was planted and the reality of our God realized, renovation started on the soil. It takes hard work, hard choices, and a hunger for more of what God has to offer to make good soil. Oral Roberts and Billy Graham weren’t born with hundredfold soil. They received their first seed, just like the rest of us. Then they made the decision that would take them on a lifelong journey with the Master Gardener. They listened to His instructions on how to remove the rocks and which plants were weeds and which were good. They learned about the different nutrients their soil needed, how much water, and even what kind of lighting was best. I’m sure they had to tear out a few well rooted trees to get the best exposure for their crop, but they knew this crop was worth all the effort. This was/is an eternal crop.
Thank You God for the seed. My soil is FAR from the hundredfold. Earlier I thought, “I’m ok not being the hundredfold, I’ll leave that to the Billy Graham’s of this world.” But You changed my mind/heart again. I am so grateful for all the work You have done on my soil so far, but I want more. Not so I can brag about it, but so I can truly be closer to You through it. I want to walk with my Master Gardener. I want to hear Your voice telling me where to fertilize and where to plant more. I want to see the harvest You create from the renovations You did in my heart.
Thank You that You are gentle and won’t force Your way on any of us, but are patient as we wrestle with the decisions to come along side You and adopt Your plans for ourselves. Thank You for Your patience and Your persistence. You never give up on me, no matter how many times I plop down in the dirt and cry because “it’s too hard!” You simply sit down next to me and wait until I’m ready to be comforted. Then we get up together and continue on from there. Hand in hand, one step at a time.