Saturday, March 6, 2021

Four Soils

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Ref: Matthew 13:3-8; 18-23

My reference is to the oft-read parable of the sower that Jesus told and explained to His disciples. The parable is set forth in verses 3-8, and explained in verses 18-23. This particular parable is foundational to our understanding of God’s Word, for in it Jesus addresses all who hear the Word of God, and although He explained it to an all-Jewish audience, it obviously applies cross-culturally.

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As explained by Jesus, there are four basic types of soils in His parable, which correspond to four basic groups of people. They are [NLT]:

1. [19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.]

I would think that in our world at large, this would be by far the largest group. We all know folks like this, perhaps even those who we count as friends or family. Perhaps we too, have fallen into this group…

2. [20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.]

Sadly, many of those whose level of faith depends on their emotions would fall into this group. While there is nothing wrong with having emotions, we were never to be governed by them. I can guarantee that there will be no soft music playing in the midst of persecution, whether it be rejection in the family or workplace, or as they tie us to the stakes of execution. So, enjoy the soft music at the altars of dedication, but don’t ever depend on it. The reality of life is quite a bit rockier.

3. [22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.]

Perhaps this portion of Jesus’ explanation comes closer to the plethora of nominal believers in the United States today. The root of ‘worries’ is Fear, and it is often easier for us to accumulate wealth we can count, to alleviate our fears, than the true wealth in the Kingdom, which we can’t yet see.

I’ve always marveled that so many “wise” people counsel us to have savings accounts, investments (diversified, of course), insurance, etc., yet so many of these same people have no remote concept of even minimally preparing for their lives after death. Do they think life will just somehow sort itself out? The picture of folks standing in line at their doctor’s offices comes to my mind. Is it better to go into Hell healthy or sick? Really, does it matter?

4. [23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”]

I can tell you from personal experience, this is the group most of us assume for ourselves. Well really, who would purposely choose any other group? Within the context of the teaching, this is the only group with a future, isn’t it?

This is a matter strictly between you and your heart. With stark honesty ask yourself: “Which group am I really in?” Better yet, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what group you are in; He’s a lot more honest with us than we can be with ourselves. The good news in all this is that Jesus never teaches from a standpoint of no hope. If we find ourselves in the wrong group, we can change it!

We can simply gloss over this parable teaching lesson, like seeing childish cutout images on a Sunday School flannel-graph, but I’d venture a guess that the Lord of the universe and beyond was quite serious with this teaching.

Jesus knew up front that of these four groups, only a maximum of 25% represented the good soil, yet He took the time and trouble to offer the teaching to all within earshot. Afterwards, He probably had supper with His disciples, including Judas Iscariot. He knew, and He yet knows, who will choose to be the good soil, and He told the story to all four groups because He knew it to be a choice.

I’m not very agriculturally attuned, but even I know that before planting, the rocks have to be removed from the fields.

Maybe after making our choice, we should start with that.


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