Summary: The Parable of the Soils describes four ways to respond to God. Three of them hinder spiritual growth. In this parable Jesus is saying, "You must take responsiblity for your personal spiritual growth."
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
When you were a little boy or girl, was there someone in your family who told you stories?
My paternal grandmother did that for me. Granny Alex would come visit us once or twice a year, and when I was a little guy, she’d sit me in a chair and tell me stories about growing up with her nine brothers and sisters.
Hearing my grandmother tell stories about my family did something inside of me. I was only 4 or 5 year old at the time, but her stories made me think that since I was related to these people, maybe someday I could do something worthwhile.
Jesus’ stories had a similar effect on the people around Him. Folks would sit on hill sides, or lakesides or in little synagogues and listen to Jesus tell stories. The stories they heard made them want to change and be more. I want to walk you through one of those stories today, in hopes that it will do for us what my Granny’s alligator-drowning story did for me.
This story is preserved by three of the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so it’s a fairly important story. It’s also my least favorite story in the entire Bible. If there were one truth I could erase from the Bible, it would be this one. But, for the sake of full disclosure, let me show it to you. It’s found in Luke 8, p. 1023 in the Bibles under your chair.
Luke gives the context for the story in the first three verses. I’ll read those to you while you find your place, because the part I want you to major in starts with v. 4.
(read Luke 8:1-3).
Follow along as I read The Parable of the Sower. (vs. 4-15).
This is a story about soil. There is a farmer in the story, He represents God. And there is seed in this story (I like that). The seed represents God’s communication with us.
But the important part, the variable part, is about soil. According to Jesus, there are four types of soil in this world:
Four Types of Soil:
1. Hard path.
2. Rocky soil.
3. Thorn patch.
4. Good soil.
Here’s how farming went in that day.
A farmer would strap a shoulder bag over his shoulder and go out into his field. (Draw field on white board.) The field would have lain dormant for a few months following the previous harvest, so neighbors on the way to town would have felt free to take a short-cut across it. So part of the field would be a hard-packed path.
When the farmer sowed his seed, he would walk out into his field grab a handful of seed and broadcast it all around him. So, some would fall on the path – which was okay, because farmers at that time and place history plowed their fields AFTER they sowed them. So, there was a chance the path would get plowed up, and the seed would wind up in the ground, under nice, fluffy soil.
As the farmer broadcast his seed, some would land in places where rocks where just a few inches below the surface. Some would land near weeds or thorn bushes that had grown up. Hopefully those would be plowed down as well, but with a single sickle blade and a team of ox, farming wasn’t perfect, so some of the thorn bushes would continue to grow, or start growing again after the plowing. And some of the seed would fall into fertile soil, soil that was ready to receive it and grow great crops.
Jesus tells this story and then says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Luke 8:8b. It’s the key to the story.
Key to the Story = Hearing. (v. 8)
Hearing. If you have ears, if you have the capacity to hear, listen. (Note to deaf ministry: this is not about auditory hearing, it’s about hearing from your heart.)
The Disciples can sense that this story is significant, so they say to Jesus, “Explain this to us. What does the story mean?”
Jesus patiently explains that
The Four Soils represent the four ways to respond to God.
“One way you can respond to God,” Jesus says, “is,
1. You can ignore Him.
That’s like the Hard Path.
Some people hear God speak, or hear someone (like me), speak for God, and they say, “No. That’s not right.” Or, “No, I don’t believe that.” Or, “No, I reject that. It might be true, but I’m not going to let it have any effect on me.” The Hard Path is like the condition of their heart – it’s hardened towards God.