Summary: The various soil types mentioned in the parable of Jesus relate to a person’s receptivity to the Word of God.

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Matthew 3: 1 – 12 / It’s Just Beginning

Intro: In Directions, James Hamilton writes: Before refrigerators, people used icehouses that had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door to preserve their food. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust.

A man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.

Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. "I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking." Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.

I. In rural Palestine, the seed was sown in broadcast fashion and the sowing PRECEDED the plowing. The sower deliberately sowed the path, in rocky places, and among thorns as well as in the good soil because it was easier.

A. Jesus often used parables or stories to relate spiritual truths to things they were familiar with in their every-day lives. In this case, he illustrated the Word of god by calling it seed.

B. The kingdom of God broke into the whole world when Jesus came. It was the seed that fell on many different kinds of soils in the human heart.

C. The reception of the seed depends on the receiver. Divine election and personal responsibility.

II. Vs. 18 paraphrased, “You disciples, listen to the parable of the sower. . .

A. The text bluntly asks: “How do you hear?” What type of soil are you? Does your hearing lead to understanding?

B. The disciples are forced to examine their own responsiveness to the gospel and whether or not they have exhibited the staying power that results in a fruitful harvest.

C. Those included within the circle of followers of Jesus are face-to-face with their own quality of hearing. --- And so are we!

III. We need to ask ourselves, “How is my soil?” In the parable there is hard soil; rocky soil; weed infested soil and good well-kept soil.

A. V. 18 – In a field, the soil gets hard when it is walked on many times. People usually do not become hard soil by choice. Many difficult situations seem to be putting them down. Until, finally, it seems that the world is out to get them, and their hearts become hard.

B. VS. 20 – 21 – The rocky soil is not random rocks popping up in the field. Rather, it is a layer of rock just below the surface that may even look like good soil; but there isn’t enough there for the roots to grow deep into the soil. / Moved to receive God emotionally but do not move on to discipleship, do not move to serving others, do not seek the life-transformation Jesus intends.

C. VS. 22 – Saddest because it has the potential to be good soil! This soil simply lets other things become more important than bearing fruit for God’s kingdom. May be in the church but not bearing fruit / soccer, golf, work, family, hobbies are priority.

D. Vs. 23 - Loving one another, meet the needs of the poor, worship, pray. – In short, be the CHURCH FOR EVERYONE.

Conclu: When our daughter was here, she admired the stone walls common to this area and asked where they got the stones. I explained that many of them came from the very fields they surrounded. / What this says to me is that It’s possible to weed the field, to sort out the stones and plow the hard soil to soften it. It is possible to change. All it takes is the will to do it!

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