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).
Picture of soil: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201207/r970288_10513377.jpg