Summary: In life, just like in a garden, there are different kinds of soil. The kind of soil you are will determine how God can impact your life.

Matthew 13:1-23

What Kind of Soil Are You?

I’m not a gardener, nor do I play one on TV – but my wife is. And I’ve tilled around a bit – and dug into the soil we have around our house to put in sprinklers and the like. It’s bad stuff – with lots of clay. I have learned the clay doesn’t grow things very well. Clay soil doesn’t letter the water through and drain away. The result is you get rotting roots and lakes. We have a lake every year in our front yard – in fact when it gets really cold it turns into an ice-skating rink – except that it’s only about five feet long, no where near enough room for a triple Lutz.

Clay soil isn’t good – but neither is super sandy soil. Sandy soil let’s the water through too quickly, leaving plants high and dry. Then there’s silty soil. Silt is the fine stuff that’s left over after muddy water evaporates. Silty soil is powdery and also let’s the water through without holding it long enough to do any good – and it blows away easily.

Clay soil sticks together, is sticky and dense. Sandy soil is harsh and gritty and won’t hold any shape and crumbles too easily. Silty soil feels smooth but won’t hold shape either and blows away.

The best kind of soil, I’ve learned, is really a combination of sand, clay, silt – and organic matter, or humus. It molds into your hand, yet crumbles apart when squeezed. They call it “loam.”

So that brings us to today’s passage in Matthew. In chapter 13, Jesus puts on the gardening gloves, picks up a packet of Burpee Seeds and heads into the garden of life to teach us lessons about how to make the soil of our lives the best it can be.

13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.

Jesus had already had enough of conflict – accused of being aligned with Satan, being accused of craziness by his family – He goes out and sits by the lake – the Sea of Galilee.

No wonder – perhaps he was trying to get a little peace. And it is peaceful there – gentle waves lapping on the pebbly shore line. It is good to get away sometimes – just sit somewhere peaceful and reflect on what’s happened, who you are, who God is – get some perspective. If Jesus can do it, so can we.

Unfortunately, His peaceful sit doesn’t last long.

2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.

Jesus didn’t get in the boat to escape – He actually got in the boat to better talk to the people. The flat water you see acts as a natural amplifier. At my family’s cabin in Northern California we could often hear the fishermen out in their boats talking in normal conversation, but because the flat water reflected the sound, we could hear it hundreds of yards away.

But Jesus here changes His preaching style – instead of speaking directly about His mission and His kingdom – he tells stories – we call them parables. “A parable is a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson” according to the dictionary.

This is the beginning of Jesus telling stories. Let’s read the first one:

3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear."

Now first I want to make an editorial comment. Some people criticize the writing and reading of fiction – stories that are not factually based. Those that have this opinion should read this story, and the many others Jesus tells. There is no farmer, no field, no birds – and yet at the same time they exist all around the people.

This story, I believe, was a work of fiction, grounded, so to speak, in everyday life, told to make a point. That’s good fiction – a story with believable characters, with tension, suspense, and a satisfying ending.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with writing of reading fiction – but my question is, what is the point? If the point brings to light a truth about man or God, and reflects an accurate picture of the world as revealed in the Word – then it can be very positive.

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