Summary: We need to prepare our hearts to recieve the Word of God.
Here is a list of Jesus’ criticisms about religious leadership in his day: They did not practice what they taught (hypocrisy). They put heavy burdens on others but not themselves (legalism). They sought and loved public recognition (pride). Status, respect and titles were important to them (arrogance). They locked people out of the kingdom (judgmental). They established laws to benefit themselves (greed). They neglected to emphasize justice and mercy (bias). They were accomplices to silencing the prophets (oppressive). George Johnson, Critical Decisions in Following Jesus, C.S.S. Publishing Company.
THE SOWER, THE SEED AND THE SOIL
The Sower represents the Son of God, the seed represents the Word of God and the soil is the human heart. The action was that he went forth to sow the seed. He did not go to criticize or make people feel miserable. The sower wanted to get the seed out to the soil without verdict or opinion or judgment. The soils are four are ways we can treat the word of God. I believe that the type of soil we are can change if we make the right choice. At the end you will see how we can be changed.
1. The first soil we see is the footpath or Wayside or this could be the one who is unmoved at the Word of God.
a. It is a hard surface. The one who has let people or things or situations make his heart hard that he does not want to let the Word enter his heart at all. He could be one who never attends church or one who attends church much of his life. He hears the word but fails to believe it is the truth for him to follow. I would pray that none of us would have this kind of heart but there can people who have come to church many times and the Word preached does not affect them. It has been said that the heart that is set on the pleasures of sin will be hardened to the Word of God.
b. This also is a dangerous surface. We read that it is exposed to the birds of the air and to the stomping of the feet passing by. No matter how amazing is the seed this is a heart that will not let it come in. The Word is heard but the devil is allowed to come and steal it away and prevent the person from believing and being saved. The devil does not want us to hear the word of God and if we do hear it he does not want us to believe it.
c. This is a hopeless Place. The word of God cannot find a place to stay and grow. It is on this path for a time but it does not enter and life is never given. It still is the Word of God but the one who hears it does not profit from it. He does not understand the power in the Word of God and the devil steals any chance of hope. The rich young ruler turned away. Judas went out and it was night. “Almost you persuade me to believe” said one.
II. The second soil is called the stony ground or an emotionally touched person.
a. The Word is cheerfully, joyfully, gladly received. The seed finds a hole to dwell in for awhile but it does not go down deep enough to get a root system. This speaks of a person who is emotionally touched and when the feeling goes away so does the faith that could have been. He hears the word of God with great joy. How do you receive the Word of God?
b. The Word quickly wastes away. It never gains root. We are told that it soon began to grow but quickly died because it lacked roots. This speaks of a person who is emotional but below the emotions is a stubborn will that does not have room for God, who demands life be lived in the Spirit. They believe for awhile but wilt and die when the hot winds of testing come.
c. The Word is completely seared. The Word has been planted and starts to grow but when problems or persecutions come it wilts and dies from a lack of being rooted. It dies from lack of moisture beneath the ground. They like the feel-good of Christianity but do not want any more problems in life. What can drive those who have good roots to become stronger cause this person to give up and die.
One day I decided to quit. I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality. I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God. "God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?" His answer surprised me. "Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?" "Yes", I replied. "When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said. "In the third year, there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. "I would not quit." He said. "Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant, but just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle." He said to me. "Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots" "I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you." "Don’t compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet, they both make the forest beautiful." "Your time will come", God said to me. "You will rise high!" "How high should I rise?" I asked. "How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return. "As high as it can?" I questioned. "Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can." I left the forest and bring back this story.