Parable of the Soils | Matthew 13

Welcome to Real Life. It’s February in Cleveland. The ground is frozen hard. No one is planting yet. No seed could penetrate the soil. How frozen hard is the soil of my heart? 

A farmer sows seed. Some falls on the path. Birds eat it. Some seed falls in a rocky place where the soil is shallow. New plants spring up quickly, but wither in the hot sun since the roots aren’t deep enough. Other seed falls among weeds. The hearty weeds choke out the tender seedlings. And then, some seed falls into fertile soil. This seed grows into healthy plants that produce fruit, and that fruit produces seeds for more plants. From one seed in rich soil, the farmer yields as many as one hundred more plants. 

Everyone loves a good story. Jesus is a master storyteller. He teaches using parables. His disciples don’t understand why. Why mask the truth behind a story? Just speak plainly. Jesus explains that the hearts of God’s people have hardened against spiritual truth. They enjoy an interesting tale, even if the real message never penetrates. They see without seeing. They hear without hearing. Yet, for a few, the truth does penetrate. They see, hear, and understand. They turn to Jesus and he heals their souls.

Jesus doesn’t always explain parables. He explains this one. He’s the farmer. Wherever he goes, he broadcasts seeds of God’s truth. The varying soils represent the varying conditions of people’s hearts. The soil of the path pictures hard hearts; truth can’t penetrate at all. The evil one (birds) quickly snatches away any seeds of truth that are heard by those with hard hearts. Rocky soil signifies hearts that receive Jesus’ words with joy. However, their understanding is shallow. When trouble or persecution comes, they quit following Christ. Weedy soil describes hearts which receive God’s truth, allow it to take root, and begin to grow. But then, the cares of life –
 responsibilities, relationships, work  choke out spiritual truth. Finally, fertile soil represents hearts which openly receive God’s truth. It penetrates deep into their souls, healing and transforming them. Others see, and welcome the truth into their hearts as well. From one tiny seed of truth, hundreds of lives are transformed. 

Which soil pictures my heart? I want it to be open, fertile soil. Yet at times, it's as hard as a well-worn path. I read God’s Word and enjoy the story without perceiving the deeper message. Other days, I receive his truth with joy. But then an unexpected bill arrives, or I get the flu, or my car dies. I react in fear, anger, and frustration displaying my shallow understanding of God’s truth. I also have weedy days when my drive for success and productivity choke out God. I get ahead in this world, but not in his kingdom. And yet, thankfully, there are times when my heart is fertile soil. God’s love and truth penetrate deeply. I see and hear clearly. My soul is healed and transformed, which positively affects those around me.

Dear Lord, give me an open heart of fertile soil which gladly welcomes your truth. 

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is you, your spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of your blood

“My Eyes are Dry” by the late Keith Green (on YouTube).

Comments

  1. Your comment that the fruit produces seeds (for more plants) could lead one to interpret the fruit as the seeds. Thus Jesus' seeds (words of the kingdom), when heard, understood, and spoken anew, lead to new seeds (words of the kingdom). Or these seeds (words) could be immediately censored by the evil one (using opponents of Jesus); or the opponents might persecute those who have received Jesus' words with joy and begun to speak them anew, causing some to become silent (no more seeds/words). Or the desires and greed of the world might choke (silence) the word (the seed), so that instead of multiplying Jesus' words about not seeking better food or clothes, and not storing up treasures on earth, they too become silent. Only the good soil continues to multiply fruit/seeds, passing on Jesus' words (seeds) a hundred times, or sixty, or thirty.

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  2. Good point. Thanks for making the clarification! :)

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  3. Hello my Dear Friend,

    How do I remember some of the beautiful and inspiring songs written and sung by Keith Green. Reading your article about this parable, I can relate to all that you have said. It is so easy to forget the LORD when things are going good, it is so easy to let the cares of this world choke out our love for him or to weaken our stand and it is so easy to forget who is merciful and gracious to us when we finally made it. I believe that is one of the reasons that God charge the children of Israel to tell their children about him and the great things he had done. He didn't have each tribe take a stone out of the Jordan River when they crossed over, just to be a replicate in a museum. I believe he wanted them to call up what had happened when they hit a rough spot in their lives. I believe God wants us to do that today.
    When trouble comes, and it does come, he wants us to think of what he has already done in our lives. To call up in our remembrance his salvation so that we can say as the Psalmist David in Psalm 62, my soul waits on the LORD.

    Thank you so much for the insights given to you by the Holy Spirit for this article. I learned from it.

    Ciao,
    Patricia

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    1. Thank you, Patricia, for your beautiful and thought-filled comments. Yes, Keith Green had such an anointing on his music. I was glad (and amazed) to find this song on YouTube. :)

      We definitely need stones of remembrance. My husband keeps a prayer journal and records God's answers to prayer. My own journaling and writing have served as stones for me.

      Thanks again for your edifying words!

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  4. We all need to be renewed and regularly. Jesus understood that and gravitated to the "poor in spirit." And I am so thankful as I know you are. I don't mean to sound harsh, but I don't trust a Christian who never wavers. As always, Peggi, you take scripture and make it come alive to a confused and insecure generation, humbly using yourself as an example. Your faith is great! (BTW, I'm not getting emails on your posts. I'll try signing up again.)

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    1. Hi Linnea,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You don't sound harsh at all. Your comment on not trusting a Christian who never wavers made me smile. I don't know that it is possible in this world to always see and hear and welcome God's truth clearly. One day in heaven we will, friend. Love you!

      PS Not sure why you are not getting emails on my posts. Others are. Thanks for trying to sign up again.

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