11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 The seed along the path are those who have heard and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the seed on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and fall away in a time of testing. 14 As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. 15 But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit.
An agronomist was asked the difference between dirt and soil. He said, “Dirt is what we sweep under the rug while soil allows things to grow.” Have you ever felt you were treated as dirt? Jesus’ earthly ministry occurred in a time and place where many people were treated that way.
In today’s parable, Jesus is teaching His followers that God sees each human heart like soil, capable of bountiful harvest when the seed was applied. The seed without the proper soil is fruitless, and the soil without the seed is almost useless.
During His ministry, Jesus encountered four different kinds of hearts (soils). He met the villagers of Nazareth and the Pharisees, who hearing the Word were immediately unwilling to accept it. Their hard soil, packed down by ritual and prejudice, would not allow the seed to be planted.
Jesus saw the emotional soil of seeking crowds. They were excited and eager to follow while He met their needs, but when challenged by the demands of discipleship and continuing worries of life, they fell away.
There was the crowded soil, like the heart of the rich young ruler. He wanted to receive the seed of the good news and thought his heart was prepared. He came closest to salvation but attached to wealth and the rewards of this world, he would not allow room for the seed.
Jesus also encountered hearts with good soil. Like the twelve disciples, Mary Magdalene, a group of women, and others who heard the Word, they received it, understood, and followed God’s Spirit. Jesus gave this parable to encourage these disciples in their ministry, but He also gives the same story to us today.
Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are able to better prepare our hearts by plowing up the areas of hard ground, removing the stones and weeds in our soil, and allowing the seed to produce fruit. Then, we can join Him in sowing the seed of His Word into the lives of those around us. And always remember, the harvest is truly His!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have I received the seed of the gospel and allowed it to grow in my heart?
- Am I continuing to improve my soil to allow the Word to produce spiritual fruit?
- How am I helping others to plow up rough ground, remove stones, and weed out thorns?