Summary: The soil, of course, represents the human heart, so the word of God falls on four different types of hearts. This parable is about salvation and three out of four of the soils represent people who are not genuinely saved.
Opening illustration: Growing up as a teenager, my dad would take me to watch the plowing of the field and planting of wheat and sunflower. The tractor would plow deep into the hard soil of central India usually slicing the big snakes hibernating below the earth. Their mangled bodies were brought to the surface while the plow-shares dug deep into the soil. Their decaying bodies would then make good manure for the crop. After planting the seed the caretakers would keep a close watch on predators and seed destroyers during the night. The greatest enemy was the wild hog (boar) which would be shot dead on sight. They would move in gangs under the cover of darkness – little ones and big ones digging into the soil with their two curved sharp teeth to remove and consume the planted seed. Their carcass made some beautiful meals for many families living in the vicinity. If these predators were not gunned down, there would be an utter crop failure resulting in no flour for the consumers. Therefore it was important for the farmer to plow the field deep and kill the predators in order to reap a bumper harvest.
Let us turn to Matthew 13 in God’s Word and check out the fields the farmer had to sow the seed …
Introduction: This parable is about a farmer who walks around in his plowed field sowing seed. It was springtime and it would not be an uncommon sight to see a farmer sowing seed. The multitude could actually see a farmer throwing seed everywhere. They could see the paths beaten across the fields and the birds coming right behind the farmer picking up the seeds. They could see the rocky ground, the thorns and thistles and the good soil. This parable was designed to teach us about the different responses people would give to Christ and His kingdom in this present age. Whenever the gospel message goes out, we can expect four different responses to the truth that Christ is Savior, Lord and King. These four responses will remain true until the end of this age.
The crux of this parable is found in the condition of the soils into which the seed is dropped. There are four kinds of soil on which the word can fall. The soil, of course, represents the human heart, so the word of God falls on four different types of hearts. It is very important to note that this parable is about salvation and three out of four of the soils represent people who are not genuinely saved. Only the good soil is really a saved person because there flows fruit from the life which is the real evidence of true saving faith. Some Bible teachers try to make the rocky ground hearers and the thorny ground hearers to be carnal Christians but it does not match the context of Biblical teaching.
What are the four kinds of hearts you will encounter when you plant God’s Word?
1. Wayside (Die-Hard Folks) [vs. 3-4; 19]
The wayside hearers are those who are hardened to the truth of Christ. It is quite easy to visualize a farmer who would make paths around or through his field in order to throw the seed on good ground. These paths would be narrow and hardened because of constant walking on them. When the seed fell on this type of ground, the birds would pick it up right away. The wayside hearers have hardened hearts to the truth of Christ. When they hear the message of Christ, it is immediately rejected because they have hearts that are hardened by sin. They have absolutely no spiritual understanding of the truth. This parable is dealing with human responsibility. Every man is held accountable to respond to the truth. The idea is not that they could not understand the truth but they would not understand the truth. They would not because men love darkness rather than light and they love their sins. These wayside hearers are really materialists. They do not think that there is anything beyond the physical and they deny the spiritual dimensions of life and the supernatural. They have a humanistic, liberal and atheistic heart. They will not take time or cannot be bothered to understand the gospel when it is presented to them. They really are not interested in spiritual matters at all.