The Sower and the Soils
In the parable of the “ Sower and the Soils ” (Mt. 13:1-9; Mk. 4:1-9; Lk. 8:4-8), Jesus spoke of a man who sowed seed upon four different kinds of soil (wayside soil, stony places, thorns, and good soil). The wayside soil was evidently hard-packed earth (such as one might find on a well-trodden path). Because this soil was so hard the seed simply lay there, being trampled down, and became easy prey for hungry birds. The stony places were evidently places where the soil was shallow due to layers of rock. A plant could initially grow there, but because there was no depth of earth, and because of lack of moisture, there was no chance for a root system to develop. As a result, such a plant would wither and die under the scorching sun. The thorny ground was evidently that which had weed-seeds in it at the time of the sowing of the good seed. Both would grow together, however, the strong thorny weeds easily choked the delicate “good” plant rendering it useless. The good soil, however, was fertile and loose. The good seed easily penetrated this soil, laid down strong roots, and grew unhindered into a strong and productive plant.
The spiritual weight of this parable is immediately clear as Jesus begins it by saying, “Listen!” (Mk. 4:3) and ends it by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (v. 9; Lk. 8:8). Obviously, this is not just a story about gardening; it has a spiritual message that we need to understand even today. Jesus said, “the seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11; Mk. 4:14). The soils represent four different conditions of the human heart (Mt. 13:19-23; Mk. 4:15-20; Lk. 8:12-15).
When the gospel is preached people react in different ways. Some are like the wayside soil. They hear the message, but their hardened hearts keep them from understanding it. These ones fall easy prey to Satan because they will not believe and be saved. Some people are like the rocky soil. They initially receive the gospel with joy; but because they are never rooted in it they easily fall away in time of temptation or tribulation or persecution. Some people are like the thorny ground. They hear the word, but any desire to keep it and to do it is quickly choked out because of their cares and desires for the things of this world. However, there are those like the good soil. These ones have a noble and good heart (which is necessary for understanding). They not only hear the word, they accept it, keep it, and bear fruit with patience. Friends, of these four examples, which one best represents the soil of your heart?