Summary: Being hardened by life, or free in Christ.
Seeds on the Hard Path
1st in a series on: “The Parable of the Soils”
An old farmer who was about to die called his two sons to his bedside and said, "My boys, my farm and the fields are yours in equal shares. I leave you a little ready money but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground, not more than eighteen inches from the surface. I regret that I’ve forgotten precisely where it lies." When the old man was dead and buried his two sons set to work to dig up every inch of ground in order to find the buried treasure. They failed to find it but as they’d gone to all the trouble of turning over the soil they thought they might as well sow a crop, which they did, reaping a good harvest. In autumn as soon as they had an opportunity they dug for the treasure again but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood they reaped better harvests than anyone else. Year after year their search continued. Only when they had grown much older and wiser did they realize what their father had meant. Real treasure comes as a result of hard work.
It should come as no surprise that the things in life that are the most important take honest effort and hard work. Take the gift of salvation for instance; though it is offered as a free gift from God through the cross of Christ it was never cheap, nor was it ever easy. It took hard work and firm resolve for Jesus to walk that road. However, it also takes hard work for us; it takes us forsaking ourselves, it takes taking up our own crosses to follow Christ daily, it takes seeing others as greater than we are, it takes loving our enemies, and serving each other.
As Jesus was talking to the crowds one day as the people had gathered, he spoke his first parable to the people, and it was the Parable of the Soils. In it Jesus talks about four specific types of soil and a sower who was scattering seed. Let’s take a look…
Matthew 13:1-9 (NLT)
Later that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore,  where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into a boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore.  He told many stories such as this one:
"A farmer went out to plant some seed.  As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly,  but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil.  Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades.  But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.  Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"
Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT)
"Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain:  The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts.  The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy.  But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word.  The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.  The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted."
I believe people are born as healthy, rich, fertile soil. I don’t believe anyone is born hardened, rocky, or weedy. But as we grow I believe there are things that can be implanted (via upbringing, life-situations, and the like) that suck out all the nutrients that allow for healthy growth. I believe there are relationships that we foster that have a tendency to drain us, or lead us to become hardened. I believe there are things that we watch, read, or listen to that have direct influences on us that are negative. I believe we can get caught up in some pretty selfish pursuits that, in the end, leave us empty and dry. And, I also believe that there are things that we entertain in the private realms of our minds that harden the soil in our lives.