Summary: Several things are robbing us from producing a fruitful crop in our life. Identify what is missing and add the Miracle Gro today.
INTRODUCTION: In rural Palestine the seed was sown in broadcast fashion and the sowing PRECEDED the plowing. The sower deliberately sowed the seed in the path, in rocky places, and among thorns as well as in the good soil. However, if the plowing was delayed for any reason, then they got the results that Jesus mentioned in this parable.
The kingdom of God broke into the whole world when Jesus came. It was the SEED that fell on many different kinds of soil in the human heart. The reception of the seed depends upon the receiver. The message then was received in a variety of ways just as it is today. The number of FRUITLESS HEARERS was very great then even among those who heard Jesus speak in person.
Jesus often used parables or stories to relate spiritual truths to things they were familiar with in their every-day lives. In this care he illustrated the Word of God by calling it seed. The Soil represented the receptivity or lack of receptivity of the human heart to receive the Seed or the Word of God.
Today’s scripture in Matthew focuses on the SOIL rather than on the sower. Although there was no harvest resulting from three of the four types of soil, this parable points out that a person’s heart, like soil, is CAPABLE OF IMPROVEMENT and CAPABLE of BEARING GOOD FRUIT.
This parable calls to our attention the fact that although the soil is not the way it SHOULD be or the way that it CAN be, it can still be made into productive soil. We can relate the soil of our hearts to this parable and know that change can begin to take place in spite of the
1. hardness of our heart
2. the shallowness of our experience
3. the many thorns that choke out the Word in our lives
Proverbs 24:30 says, “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyards of the man who lacks judgment: thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.”
Today, I believe that we can learn some valuable truths from this parable that Jesus told to the crowds along the shore.
The effect of the Word is dependent on the state of the heart. There are many hindrances to people profiting by the Word of the gospel. In so many people it comes short of its end purpose to produce a harvest. Let’s think about where we are today. At one time or another we will see ourselves in each of the soil categories. We may say, “Well, I’m a Christian and the seed of the gospel is falling entirely on good soil. However, we may not realize what is really taking place in our lives. Let us take a look and see if we can identify some things that need to be improved and where we need some Miracle Gro in order to produce a better crop. If we find ourselves in one of the soils that is not producing a good crop, let us know that there is HOPE for us--Jesus can add the Miracle Gro to make us what we need to be. He can change the hardness of our hearts, he can give us the stability and root system we need, and he can help us to pull out the thorns that are robbing us of abundant life.
1. The Pathway: It was a common thing for the paths to run through and around the unfenced fields. Any seed that fell on the paths never entered the ground and was trampled down or the birds came and ate it. The path was so packed down that the seed couldn’t begin to get into the ground.
Matthew Henry says, “Hearts all unbroken and hard are not fit soil for saving truth” because people don’t pay attention to it and don’t understand it. However faithful the preacher or the Sunday school teacher or person who sows the seed of the gospel--the EFFECT of the preaching depends upon the HEARER’S HEART. It may be hardened and packed down so that the seed can’t get through to them.
There is an Old Testament scripture that speaks of this kind of hardened, packed down ground along the pathways.
Hosea 10:12 says to the people, “Break up your UNPLOWED ground for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes.” This scripture shows us that in spite of the hardness of people’s hearts today, it is not hopeless. Something can be done with even packed down soil--something can be done to “plow up” the hard, callused soil of hearers hearts. You might know people who have no interest in spiritual things whatsoever. You might say, “nothing is getting through to them.” The gospel message is not getting below the outer surface.