Summary: The message challenges the listeners to become "good soil" and receptive to the good news of the Gospel.
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There are approximately 60 parables in the New Testament. Jesus told common life stories with word pictures to connect with the people and teach Biblical truths. Most of the parables had a deeper meaning. Jesus used word pictures to capture the attention of his listeners and drive truths home.
Matthew 13:1-9 is a parable about a farmer going out to sow grain in a field. As the farmer scattered the grain the seed fell on four different kinds of soil. The parable is about how people respond to the good news of the Gospel. Some of the parables Jesus told He did not interpret, but Jesus gives the interpretation of this parable.
I. Footpath Soil – Represents hardened hearts
As the farmer scattered seeds some fell on footpath soil and the birds came and ate the seeds. The soil was so hard the seeds had no chance of breaking through the soil and taking root. (13:4) Footpath soil is hardened by the traffic of life.
Jesus said the seed represents the Good News of the Gospel about Jesus and His Kingdom. The hard path soil represents the people who don’t understand the message and the devil, the evil one snatches the seed away from the hearts of the hearers.
Hard hearts have been calloused and hardened by the listener constantly turning a deaf ear to the teachings of scripture. Hard hearts are hardened by the free will of a person making choices to repeatedly say no to the love and grace of God. Satan uses all his tricks, deceptions and lies to keep the hearts of people from softening. Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah to describe people with hard hearts.
“For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes, so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)
#I remember a young man I talked to in his home about having faith in Jesus. His wife and small child attended the Aldersgate FMC in Kansas City, KS where I served as pastor for five years. He told me that he had no need for God. He told me I shouldn’t waste my time talking to him about the teachings of the Bible.
Several months later I visited the same young man in the hospital. He was there suffering with bleeding ulcers and in very bad health. I again asked him if he would like for me to pray for him and he said, “I told you before that I don’t need God and even through I’m sick and in the hospital, I still don’t need God.” By his choices he chose to allow Satan to harden his heart to spiritual truths.
Paul told Timothy God wants all people to know the truth, “and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
When a person becomes hardened again the truths of God that person becomes captive to Satan and compelled to go the way of the Evil One.
God has gifted each of us with the freedom to choose the kind of response we have to the Good News of the Gospel. What God does in our life depends on our response to Him. People by their choice can become hardened against God. They ignore the quiet voice of God and deny their need for God and choose to continue in their sinful behavior. When the seed of good news comes their way they trample on it and continue to go their self-centered way. When they have opportunity to respond to God’s grace and love they turn away and the seed is not allowed to take root.
There may have been a time in your life that the soil in your life was hard, but you received the grace of God and you allowed God to soften your heart. You offered your life as a place where the seed-God’s Word could start something new. The Apostle Peter summarizes what happened to you in I Peter 1:23, “You were born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable, through the living Word of God.” There is no heart so hard that Jesus cannot soften it if the person begins to seek the Lord and is open to His truth. The Prophet Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
II. Rocky Soil – Shallow Commitment to Jesus
The second kind of soil is rocky soil. The seed fell on soil with a layer of rock under the soil. The plants spring up quickly, but wilt beneath the hot sun and die because the roots are not able to go deep into the soil and get nourishment.