By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens
Jesus used parables as a medium for His teaching ministry. Parables are stories that depict real life, with a spiritual meaning attached. They were designed to provoke thought, calling for action on the part of the hearer.
Parables have always been a strength to me over the years including this one. Since Israel was primarily an agricultural country Jesus focused many of His parables around that theme. To discuss the four types of soil and how they receive seeds sown upon them was something the people within His hearing could understand, maybe. It is interesting that His disciples consistently had difficulty grasping the true meaning of His parables.
In this parable Jesus focuses on four soils that receive seed sown by the farmer. The sowing was in broadcast form, meaning that the ground was not prepared like it is today. The seed is just thrown out with the hope that some of it would take root. This parable basically focuses on the sowing (spreading the Word) and the soil (receiving the Word). The soils, with regard to their texture and receptiveness to the seed sown, are very different. In verses 1-9 Jesus tells the parable, in verses 10-13 He explains to His questioning disciples the reason He spoke in parables. The four soils referred to in this parable are:
Hard (wayside) soil. This is the non-receptive soil. The seed just lies there and the birds come and feast upon it. This type of soil can be compared to people who hear the truth of the gospel, but are not receptive to it.
Stony soil. This area had some earth, but it was shallow at best. The seed took temporary root, but had no depth for growth. Therefore when the sun came up it scorched those fledgling plants and they withered away. This is like people who at some point in time have made an emotional profession of faith, but with no depth they fell away.
Thorny soil. This represents the weeds of life that tend to take over and choke out the good seed, like crabgrass. Lucy once told Charlie Brown that he was “the crabgrass in the lawn of life.” Thus, in her opinion, he was good for nothing. Crabgrass is indeed good for nothing and hinders growth. People who come to Christ with no solid ground on which to grow often get entangled by the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things that choke the very spiritual life out of them.
Fertile soil. This seed falls on good fertile soil and it produces a bumper crop. This compares well to the spiritual decision to follow Christ and then continuing to grow and produce for the kingdom.
When I was a 9-year-old boy I knew I was a sinner and gave my heart to Jesus. Over these past 62 years I have been tempted often to fall away, but have stayed the course, rooted firmly in Christ.