By Brooke Holt
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on the rocky ground, this is the one who hers the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case, a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23
If you ever struggle to understand the teachings of Jesus, know that you are in good company. The twelve (12) disciples who Jesus, himself, directly taught also struggled to understand what he was saying and how his words applied to life. This proved especially true for the parables, including the one above. Thus, when Jesus got alone with the disciples, he unpacked the meaning of the parable.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that the teaching on the seed and the soil illustrates four responses: seed that falls along the path, seed that falls upon rocky ground, seed that falls among thorns, and the seed sown in fertile soil. Throughout this parable (and his explanation of it), Jesus challenged his listeners and readers to consider what kind of soil best represents them.
So, let’s make it personal. How do you receive the word of God? Do you read the Bible or hear a sermon and quickly forget the words or application? Or are you excited by what you read or heard? Maybe you even go out and share the scripture passage or sermon with a friend, but then circumstances in your life feel overwhelming. You lose a job, a friendship falls apart, or someone hurts your feelings after church. Instead of turning back to the Word of God, you let it go.
Even those who have grown up in the church or are faithful to attend each week may not allow roots to run deep. How can you know if this applies to you? Those who have not allowed the words of Jesus to take root are more concerned with their kingdoms than the kingdom of God. The pursuit of wealth or health may dominate. Being out on the boat or on the golf course may take precedence over attending Bible study or weekly worship.
Jesus intends for his word to take root and to spring to life in his disciples. You will know this describes you if you hear the word of God, read the word of God, and see the fruit of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). When the seed takes root, you come to church ready to receive from the Lord, to be challenged, and to be informed by his ways and his Spirit.
Jesus calls you to reflect on the condition your heart and mind today.
As you read this parable, what happens in your heart? Do you recognize Jesus’ words falling on paths, rocky ground, or thorny soil, or are you fertile soil? The Lord longs to help you become good soil. His Holy Spirit is ready and able to work in your life to create deeper roots and fruit. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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