By Deborah Nayrocker, M.Ed., Crosswalk.com
Jesus used parables to teach many truths about the kingdom of heaven.
One day when Jesus taught by the sea, a crowd of people followed him. There were so many people at this large seaside gathering that He needed to get into a boat to talk to all of them.
On this day Jesus was telling the parable of the sower and soils (Mark 4:1-20). He told about the four types of soils.
The sower went out to sow seeds. As he was sowing, the seeds fell in different places. They fell on four types of soil.
The first soil is the packed path. When the sower scattered the seed, some seed fell beside the road. The ground was packed and hard. Soon after, the birds came and ate the seeds.
The second soil is the shallow soil. Other seeds fell on shallow soil on rocky ground. The seed started to grow. But then the hot sun came it scorched the seed. Since the seed had no root, the plant withered away.
The third soil is the thorny terrain. Other seeds fell on the thorny terrain. The thorns choked out the seed. So, there was no crop.
The fourth soil is the good ground. Other seeds fell on ground that was good. Their roots went into the ground. The seeds grew and the crop was good and increased. The seeds yielded a crop that yielded up to a hundredfold.
Later, when Jesus was alone with His twelve disciples and close followers, they asked him about the parable’s meaning. Jesus said, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables” (Mark 4:11).
He explained that the seed represents the Word of God. He explained the meaning of the four soils, as well as 4 ways that believers respond to the message of God’s kingdom.
The Packed Path Has Listeners with Hard Hearts
They resist God’s Word. The Enemy snatches it right away and the truth doesn’t sprout.
When they hear the Word, the Enemy takes away what was sown in them.
These people refuse to listen to God’s truth. God calls them “stubborn and obstinate” (Ezekiel 3:7). The Lord God told the prophet Ezekiel: “He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:27).
They have blinded minds. Apostle Paul said that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Often the hard hearts need to be “plowed up” in order to receive the message. Sometimes the plowing process can be painful. Yet trying experiences often help to bring about real changes in the hard heart.
Listeners who don’t ask Jesus to be the Lord and King of their lives are corrupt in their sins. They choose to fall for the Enemy’s lies over God’s eternal truths.
The Shallow Soil Has Listeners with Shallow Hearts
They fall away. There is no depth, and the Word doesn’t take root.
They hear the message and are happy to receive it. But there is no firm root.
Their reception of the message soon wanes. When troubles or persecution come their way because of the Word, they fall away. Life’s rocky experiences and difficulties show up and God’s message of hope does not become a part of their lives.
They prefer their old way of life. It seems easier to continue that way.
The Thorny Terrain Has Listeners with Crowded Hearts
They are easily distracted. At first, they are receptive to the Word. But they are not ready to remove the “weeds” from their hearts. They get caught by the thorns around them.
They are easily distracted by the many cares of this world. They are torn between walking the narrow way and the broad way (the worldly way) in life. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus talked about the narrow and wide gates.
These listeners are people who have heard the Word. But the message is choked out by “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19).
The riches and cares of the world keep many people from receiving and applying the truth. These listeners are often influenced by all kinds of ideologies.
They don’t really want to commit to a new way of living. They remain unfruitful.
The Good Ground Has Listeners Who Accept Jesus Wholeheartedly
They listen to the teachings of Jesus and accept the Word. These listeners follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
They are deeply rooted in the ground. Seeds grow into a harvest. The kingdom begins small, but it grows.
These listeners are not dismissive or distracted. They are believers who have experienced God’s saving grace through His Son Jesus. They trust in God’s faithful promises and they show evidence of spiritual fruit.
God opens the minds of these listeners. The disciple Luke wrote that “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). They understand the secrets and mysteries of God’s kingdom.
It is evident that God’s kingdom values are important to them. Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Some believers produce great harvests. Their fruit is evident since they have repented (Matthew 3:8). They “bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20). They are unwavering and productive.
What Is Your Response?
Just as the farmer sowed the seed wherever it fell, the Word is dispensed to all. Jesus was teaching to whoever would listen. He knew, however, that some of the people’s lives would remain unchanged.
Which type of soil resembles our response to the message of God’s kingdom?
If we say we are followers of Jesus, in what ways do we show that we love and follow Him?
This parable shows how God’s kingdom values spread throughout the world. His eternal kingdom values lead to eternal life. John 5:24 says, “He who hears My Word, and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
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Deborah Nayrocker is the author of Grow in Faith toward Maturity: 31 Days to a Closer Walk with God (Credo House). A practical guide for growing Christians, the book has thirty-one brief chapters for daily devotional use. The book is available in e-book and paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Deborah is also the author of the Bible study Living a Balanced Financial Life (AMG) and The Art of Debt-Free Living – Living Large on Less than You Earn (WinePress). Her Website is www.DeborahNayrocker.com