“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 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: 1-9
The Parable of the Sower is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In each of the three gospels, the disciples ask Jesus what the parable meant. Jesus explains the parable to the disciples so that they (and we) may clearly understand the message Jesus delivered. Jesus explains that the revelation He revealed in the parable would only be received by those willing to see and hear Jesus’ message. The people’s receptivity was based on the posture of their hearts and minds. The same holds true for us today.
We understand from Jesus that the seeds scattered by the farmer is the word of God. The destiny of the seeds depend on where they fall. In the parable, the seed falls in four distinct places – the path, rocky places, among thorns or good soil. In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus clearly explains what happens to each seed when it falls in one of these four places. I encourage you to read the story because Jesus paints a very clear picture of what happens in each place. However, here is how this parable may come alive in our lives:
- The path – the seed is trampled upon; exposed so the devil snatches it up. I believe most of us begin on the path. We hear the word of God, but the Word has not landed in our hearts. It falls on the wayside, becoming easy prey for the enemy to carry it away so that it doesn’t have a chance to grow. We don’t believe just yet.
- Rocky places – shallow soil, sun causes plants to wither, no moisture, no root. We’ve heard the word and learned a little more about God. We believe and are excited about what we’ve learned until we’re tested. We have head knowledge but not heart knowledge of God. Our belief is shallow and our faith is easily uprooted by our troubles.
- Among thorns – plants grow but thorns grow too and chokes the life out of the plants – By the grace of God, we’ve matured more. Our faith is tested by the trials of life, and we learn to stand firm. However, along the way, we become distracted by our will, our plans, our worries and our desires for things. We pray, but thorns of worry choke our faith. We find it hard to believe in what we don’t see. Some of us begin to desire the things of the world more than we desire relationship with God. God is important, but our hearts become overwhelmed by our worries or our wallet.
- On good soil – seed grows, produces plants that produce crops – This is the place of blessing, which goes far beyond anything the world can provide. This is the place of abundance, where God is number one in our hearts and minds. We hear, receive and accept His word. We surrender our will and continue to cultivate a deep, personal relationship with God. We invite and submit to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. We are steadfast and immovable when the storms of life blow. We bend, but we don’t break. We stumble, but we seek forgiveness, repent and keep moving forward in faith, glady partaking of God’s grace. We trust God deeply because we’ve experienced God for ourselves. Our lives bear much fruit. We have an overflow and are able to bless others.
Today, I want us to think about our hearts and where we may be on this earthly journey of spiritual transformation. During our life’s journey, God seeks to transform us into the likeness of His Son so that His kingdom will come and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. So, whether we find our hearts on the path or in rocky or thorny places, God is calling us into deeper relationship with Him. Our goal, God’s goal, is that His word falls in good soil. The kind of soil where He is number one in our hearts and minds; where we trust and believe God is who He says He is. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. This is how His kingdom comes alive within us on earth, and we bear fruit that blesses us, blesses others and , most importantly, brings Him glory.
Prayer: We praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Search our hearts. Test us and know our anxious thoughts. Reveal our hearts to us. We want our hearts to be good soil where your word takes root, grows and bears fruit. Forgive us for the times we pray and walk away with hearts still overwhelmed with worry and doubt. Forgive us for for the times we’ve placed other things before you. By the power of the Holy Spirit, guide us into deeper relationship with you so that the soil of our hearts is good and pleasing in your sight. In Jesus’ blessed name we pray. Amen.