Yesterday we talked about Being Rooted in Christ Jesus. Jesus taught the parable of the four soils to illustrate that. “Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘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. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’” (Matthew 13:3-9)
The seed was the same in every place, but the condition of the soil was different. The soils are the hearts of the people who make a choice about the message. The condition of a person’s heart can be compared to the different kinds of soils that received the seed.
Jesus went on to tell what this parable means. “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” (Matt. 13:19) A path is where many people have walked, and the dirt there is well worn. The ground of a path is harder than the ground on either side of it. The more people walk on a path, the more “packed down” the dirt becomes. The seed that fell on the path could not sink down into the dirt. If we don’t understand what God’s Word says, we can ask for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Matt. 13:20-21) Plants must have roots down in the soil. But in rocky places, the hard rocks block the roots. Any seed that started to grow in the thin soil soon withered in the intense heat and died.
“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Matt. 13:22) Weeds are very strong and forceful. Wherever there are weeds, they take over the good plants. The strong roots of the weeds use up all the nutrients in the soil, and the plants are left with nothing. These plants barely grow at all; they don’t produce fruit or vegetables.
“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt. 13:23) Farmers will add the right kind of fertilizer (vitamins and nutrients) so their plants can grow. They want their seeds to grow into large, healthy plants that will give them good fruits and vegetables. If it is done right, a handful of seeds will produce bushels full of good things to eat!
It is a miracle of God’s Holy Spirit as He uses our words to lead others to Him. The four types of soil represent different responses to God’s message. People respond differently because they are in different states of readiness. Some are hardened, others are shallow, others are contaminated by distracting worries, and some are receptive. How has God’s Word taken root in your life? What kind of soil are you?
- NIV Study Bible
- The Four Soils