By Toni Ford
In the Gospels Matthew and Mark, the first parable mentioned is of the farmer scattering seed. This more often referred is to as the parable of the soils, since the emphasis of the teaching is placed primarily on the different soils in which the seed falls. The setting for how Jesus begins this story is a large crowd of people gathered to hear Him speak. As Jesus prepares to speak, He gets in a boat and pushes out a short distance in the water due to the large crowd that have followed Him to the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
This action allows the crowd of people to see and hear Jesus as He speaks. Jesus has their full attention, and of all the things He could speak on, He chooses to borrow an image from first-century Galilean agriculture regarding farmers, seeds and soil in order to teach a spiritual lesson. In those days, farmers scattered seed far and wide before plowing. In the story Jesus shares, the farmer represents God, the seed represents God’s Word and the soil is the human heart. The emphasis centers on the various kinds of soil, or hearts, on which the seeds fall and how each heart rejects or receives Christ’s message. Let’s look at the four types of soil and the four types of hearts represented.
Hard Heart. This soil is described as soil which has fallen along the path. Matthew 13:4 says, “As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.” Such ground has been trampled down by the many feet that have passed that way over scores of years. Because the soil is hard, the seed that falls there merely lies on the path and does not sink in, and birds soon snatch it away. What makes the human heart hard? Sin. Sin hardens the heart, and the heart that is hardened sins even more.
Shallow Heart. This is the soil covering rocky ground. Matthew 13: 5-6, “Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun and since they did not have deep roots, they died.” When the seed fell upon the rocky ground, it sank in but only to a very shallow depth. It sprang up quickly but faded quickly in the sun’s heat since it had no root. These are people who when hear the gospel, they may express great enthusiasm on the outside but inwardly, they do not carefully consider the message. When these people face pressure or bad circumstances, they quickly forget about God’s word. There were great crowds who followed Jesus but only a few were His true disciples. A true believer follows Jesus no matter what.
Strangled Heart. This is soil that is strangled by thorns. Matthew 13:7 says, “Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.” These are the people who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. These people may think if they only had more money and more “things” that they would be happy, and these are the people who become worried about the problems of daily living. These wrong beliefs take up all the person’s time and energy, and just like the weeds, steal all the nutrients from the good plants.
Open Heart. This is the heart that receives the gospel like good soil receives seed. It is described in Matthew 13 as “these seeds fell on fertile soil and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” This soil produced a crop more than what was planted. This represents the people who hear God’s word and believe it. They put their trust in Jesus. Their hearts receive the message of the kingdom and the seed takes root. If we are willing to open our hearts to receive God’s Word, over time the roots grow deeper and more and more growth is seen. The same is true for seed that has taken root and soon grows into a beautiful plant.
As I read this parable, I realize I have been able to relate to all four of these hearts at one time or another in my lifetime. Thankfully, over time, I have developed and desired a more open heart. My desire is to maintain an open heart, daily letting my roots grow deeper in our Lord and His Word. For I know that is where true freedom lies.
If you see yourself in a heart other than the open heart, remember that the Divine Gardener, Jesus Christ, can break up the hard ground, uproot the rocks, remove the thorns and bring you to a place of good soil if your heart is willing. I can guarantee the results will be much more beautiful, fruitful and plentiful.
If you would like for me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to pray for you.