February 22 – Parables – Soil

Read Matthew 13:3-8

Years ago I planted a vegetable garden and then replanted it for several years. Before I started, I sought the advice of local agricultural experts… my farmer friends. They talked about insect control, seed selection, gardening tools and the proper amount of moisture. Everything mattered.

Before I planted tomatoes, broccoli, corn and beans, I located a rototiller to till the soil and started a compost pile. I even brought in some natural “fertilizer” from a nearby horse barn. I spent a lot of time preparing the soil for the seed because of one simple truth: the soil determines the quality of the crop.

Jesus emphasized that point in Matthew 13.  Usually this story is called the parable of the sower. Occasionally it’s identified as the parable of the seed. It’s probably best described, however, as the parable of the soil.

This is the first in a series of parables Jesus gave to His disciples that will be the focus of Every Day with God in coming days.  As the Master Teacher of these parables, Jesus always started with what was familiar to His followers, then moved to what was unfamiliar. He began with something His listeners understood and then described something they didn’t understand. In this case, He started with the natural and then explained the supernatural.  Jesus often followed that pattern when He taught: First, the simple, then the profound.

His disciples lived in an agrarian society. They understood farming.   Much like the early history of our nation, many families farmed a small plot of ground just to survive. They knew the laws of sowing and reaping. What they didn’t understand was the profound spiritual principles pictured by farming.

Now in this parable, Jesus identified himself as the Sower (Matthew 13:39). The seed is the message of the Word of God (Matthew 13:19; Luke 8:11). But this parable mostly focuses on four responses to the Word of God, pictured by four different kinds of soil.

The seed that falls “along the path” pictures a dead heart where the Word of God is snatched away by the Evil One (Matthew 13:19). The seed that falls on “rocky places” demonstrates a deceived heart where the seed of the Word cannot take root. A distracted heart is pictured by seed that falls among the thorns where “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). But the soil that yields a good crop (“100, 60, or 30 times what was sown…”) portrays a devoted heart.

The point of the parable is clear:  What kind of heart do you have? Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples (John 15:8 – ESV). What kind of fruit does your life produce?

Here’s the truth you can apply to your life today… You get to decide what kind of soil represents your life.  Is your heart spiritually dead and unresponsive to the truth of God’s Word?  Is it deceived into thinking that your life as a child of God will always be easy … a “problem-free philosophy” of life?  Maybe your heart is distracted by all the bright-light attractions in this world.  Or maybe, today, and every day, it’s your desire to have a heart that’s devoted to God and His Word.   Are the words of the Psalmist the prayer of your heart?  “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11 NIV).

Bob Fetterhoff

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