Summary: Christ talks about 4 different soils, each representing a heart and how receptive it is to God’s Word. How receptive are you to God’s Word?

Here is one for the teachers in the crowd today!

It was at the end of the school year, and a kindergarten teacher was receiving gifts from her pupils.

The florists son handed her a gift. She shook it, held it overhead, and said, "I bet I know what it is. Some flowers."

"That’s right," the boy said, "But how did you know?"

"Oh, just a wild guess," she said.

The next pupil was the candy shop owner’s daughter.

The teacher held her gift overhead, shook it, and said, "I bet I can guess what it is. A box of sweets."

"That’s right, but how did you know? asked the girl.

"Oh, just a wild guess," said the teacher.

The next gift was the son of the liquor store owner. The teacher held the package overhead, but it was leaking. She touched a drop of the leakage with her finger and touched it to her tongue.

"Is it wine?" she asked.

"No," the boy replied, with some excitement.

The teacher repeated the process, taking a larger drop of the leakage to her tongue.

"Is it champagne?" she asked.

"No," the boy replied, with more excitement.

The teacher took one more taste before declaring, "I give up, what is it?"

With great glee, the boy replied, "It’s a puppy!"

Beware teachers! Teachers are a great blessing. Of course there was no greater teacher than Jesus. Teachers have many different methods of teaching. Jesus was known for being a storyteller. He often times spoke in what we know as parables, stories that make a point. Obviously, Jesus told stories and used examples that people could relate to in that culture, even though there were times that people still didn’t understand. Jesus often times used illustrations that dealt with planting and harvesting crops because that was something that those people had experienced and understood. There was a lot of great truths that Jesus taught using that imagery. At times other authors in the scripture also used imagery dealing with crops and sowing and reaping. We will take a look at some of that imagery in the next few weeks as we begin a series that we will call "The Garden Variety Series." Today’s text comes from Luke and Jesus shares a parable, the parable of the sower. After we read the parable portion we will jump to the portion of scripture where Jesus explains the parable to the disciples.

Luke 8:4-8,11-15

Now there are four different types of soil that Jesus mentions in this parable. Let’s first of all Jesus says that the seed represents the Word of God. It’s pretty obvious that the soil represents the hearts of people. Some soil, or hearts were much more open and receptive to the Word of God then the others. But let’s take a look at the four soils Jesus talks about and see how you compare. How is your heart for the gardening that God wants to do in your life?

Now this first soil that Jesus talks about He says some fell along the path and it was trampled on and the birds of the air ate it up. William Barclay describes this kind of soil in Palestine. He says, "The common ground in Palestine was split into long narrow strips; between the strips there were paths which were rights of way; when the seed feel on these paths, which were beaten as hard as the road, it had no chance of getting in." (The Daily Bible Study Series, Westminster Press, Barclay, p. 98) When I was growing up, we lived in what most of you would consider a big city, it was hundreds of thousands of people. We lived in the suburbs. Now at one time we got a dog and he was a border collie. Trying to keep a border collie in the city is probably not the best choice. These dogs were great for herding cows, but not just hanging out in a fenced in back yard. That dog ran up and down our fence line so much that we had no grass on the path that he ran repeatedly. That part of the yard was harder than the rest because of the traffic from the dog. There wasn’t anything going to grow there. It was similar to this first soil Jesus was talking about. This soil had been walked on and walked on to the point where it was so hard that when the seed feel along the path there was no way that seed was getting in. Because that seed just laid on the top of the soil, birds came and snatched it away. Translation for us is this: You have a hard heart and a shut mind for God’s Word. Jesus explained this portion of the parable to the disciples this way in verse 12. He said, "Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved." There is nothing worse than having a hard heart toward God’s Word. God’s Word is life and when you reject the words of life, that can only mean death. Proverbs 28:14 says, "Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." Walking down the path of a hard heart always leads to trouble. Throughout history, Israel had it’s most difficult times when they allowed their hearts to become hard to what God wanted for them. Time after time the people of Israel paid a heavy price for hardening their hearts toward God and what He wanted. When Zechariah was trying to compel the current Israelites to make the right decisions he talked about the past mistakes of their forefathers. Zechariah 7:11-14 he says, "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. ‘When I called; they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left desolate behind them than no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate." Israel experienced captivity by the Babylonians because of their hard hearts toward what God wanted for them. Zechariah used the word flint, and that was the hardest substance they knew. If you have hardened your heart toward what God wants for you, if you have hardened your heart toward His Word, it is a very dangerous path. I hope and pray that this first soil that Jesus refers to here doesn’t describe anyone here, because most likely if you are here, these words from God will most likely have no effect.

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