Summary: Looking at the four types of spiritual hearts and our role as farmers in sowing God's word.
A New York City businessman moved to the country and bought a piece of land. He went to the local feed and livestock store and talked to the proprietor about how he was going to take up chicken farming. He then asked to buy 100 chicks.
"That’s a lot of chicks," commented the proprietor. "I mean business," the man replied.
A week later the new farmer was back again. "I need another 100 chicks," he said. "Boy, you are serious about this chicken farming," the man told him.
"Yeah," the man replied. "If I can iron out a few problems." "Problems?" asked the proprietor. "Yeah," replied the man, "I think I planted that last batch too close together."
Today we are going to look at a parable that Jesus told about a farmer. On the surface it may seem that the farmer was a bit careless with the seed. But as we will discover it was meant to shock the audience listening to him.
Jesus was a master story teller. That is one reason people were so drawn to him. They did not have books, TV shows, and movies like we do today. So story telling was an art form of entertainment. But Jesus didn’t just tell stories. His stories were in parables. At a Bible study I asked the question, “Does anyone know what a parable is?” One fellow answered, “A riddle.” In a way he was correct. Parables are stories with hidden spiritual meanings. In this particular parable though Jesus explains the meaning of the parable for us. This particular sermon has become known as the parable of the four soils.
Turn to Luke 8:5. “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.”
A farmer went out to plant his seed. The farmer usually carried his seed to his field in a large sack on the back of his donkey. and then the leather bag which he carried under his arm was replenished with seed from the sack. As a rule, the seed was scattered on the ground, and then it was covered over by plowing. Often the farmer walked along, scattering his seed, and then one of his family, or a servant if he had one, followed directly with the plow.
We will also learn about his field. In his field was a well worn path that the dirt had been trampled down so hard that nothing stood a chance to grow on it. Also in his field were areas that contained rocks with a shallow covering of dirt. There was also a part of his field that was over-grown with thorns. And finally the part of his field prepared for planting.
As he scattered his seed, we was not discriminate on where he sowed. He wasted some seed by throwing them on the path that would not be plowed. He wasted seed on rocky soil that would be hard to plow. And he wasted seed on soil covered by bushes that could not be plowed. This was the shock factor to his audience.
Let’s go back to verse 5. “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.”
The farmer purposely threw seed onto the footpath. He knew they would not grow there but choose to sow the seed their anyway. The seed was trampled by travelers and eaten by birds. The seed did not serve the purpose for which it was designed.
Now we are going to jump down to verses 11-12 where Jesus begins explain the meaning of the parable. “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.”
The seed is the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus. The soil is the spiritual heart, the root of our emotions that drive us to discover Jesus. The first group is those who are spiritually hardened. The message cannot penetrate through their hardened souls therefore it lies exposed. Their thoughts and actions trample the truth of God’s word and the world steals away their hopes of believing and being saved. They often lash out with anger and bitterness to anyone who approaches them with the Gospel.
The second group is those who are spiritually uncommitted.
Look at verse 6. “Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture.” These seeds found a rock with a little dirt crammed into a corner. They take root but there is not a lot of area for growth, so the growth is stunted and the plant dies.