May 5, 2016
Have you ever planted a garden? When I was a child I loved carrots and decided to plant some. I took my allowance and bought a packet of seeds. I chose a place that was out of the way (so my bicycle wouldn’t run over them) and very shady (I didn’t want to get overheated while tending my garden). I dug a small line in the dirt and threw in the seeds. Then, I waited. I checked them every couple of days and was thrilled when they began to grow! I got frustrated that they didn’t grow faster. Finally I decided it was time to harvest my crop of five or six puny plants. The carrots were odd shapes because they grew around rocks and tried to push their way through hard ground. The lack of sunshine, little water, and no tender loving care didn’t help them at all. So, I gave up on planting seeds. That’s the way it is with many Christians today. Very little effort is put into cultivating and spreading God’s word. We might throw out a quick “That’s a sin and God doesn’t like it” then wonder why we don’t win more souls for Christ.
When Jesus walked this earth there were many farmers among the Jewish people. They understood farming and about soil, so they could easily relate to the parable Jesus told about a farmer who sowed seeds on various types of soil. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:3-8. There was nothing wrong with the seeds, but the soil hadn’t been prepared.
We don’t have to wonder what this parable means. Jesus explained it so we can easily understand. There are four specific soils mentioned but only one actually leads to salvation. The first ground mentioned is the way side. This ground points to those who hear the Gospel yet they don’t understand it and are blinded to the truth. “When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” Matthew 13:19. Void of understanding, these people are easy prey for the enemy (fowls). Satan steals the seeds that fall onto these people and blinds them to the truth. Although they heard the truth they remain lost. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
Then Jesus explained the stony ground. “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Matthew 13:20-21. These folks heard the word of God and received it joyously. They were enthusiastic about the Gospel and experienced that mountain top of joy. Then times get tough. They enter a valley and fall away from the truth because their roots aren’t deep in God’s truth. Maybe they move on to embrace the next thing that comes along…yoga, contemplative prayer, join a cult, or any number of non-Christian activities. The Apostle John tells us who they were. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19. Many who hear the Gospel are thrilled but have never gone through a true conversion from death to life. They heard the truth and seemed to have accepted it but they had no roots set in faith. They allow life’s troubles to move them away from the truth of the Gospel. They never truly believed.
Some seeds fell among thorns. “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22. These folks heard the word but the world got in their way. They were deceitfully seduced by wealth. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24. It isn’t the fact that a person is rich that makes it so difficult to have saving faith in Christ, but the love of that money can be stronger than the desire to follow Christ. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. Look at the Hollywood scene and see what people will do to become rich. Even those who claim to be Christians seem to have no problem starring in movies that show no Christian fruit…they love money more than God. Temptations in life are the thorns that choke out God’s truth. If your faith isn’t solid these temptations will not allow the seeds to grow.
Finally there’s the fourth soil. This is the one that brings the joy of salvation. “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23. This is the only soil classified as good ground in Jesus’ parable. The soil was ready to receive the seed that was planted and now the person is bearing fruit. That born again Christian is now planting seeds that can change other people’s lives.
As I was studying this parable I thought about the farmer sowing the seed. Was he doing all he could to prepare the soil? Thorns and stones can be removed from the ground and the shallow soil can be enriched. My grandfather always planted a beautiful garden. It flourished every year and produced a bountiful harvest. Unlike me when I planted my carrots, Grandpa worked at it by cultivating the soil. He weeded, hoed, fertilized, watered, and generally made sure the soil was ready to receive the seeds. It takes work to prepare soil for planting, but it also takes time to prepare the one planting seeds. My grandfather spent time studying gardening books and he understood how to plant the seeds. Today I’m happy to say that my granddaughter is learning to plant a garden. She is learning about preparing the soil and what the plants need in order to take root and grow. She is also learning about Jesus and His love for her. As she grows in her faith she will learn to prepare people around her to hear God’s truth and plant seeds in them that will fall on well prepared soil that is ready to receive the Gospel.
The seeds planted in you need to grow so you will bear fruit. Every Christian needs to study and learn more about the Gospel then share it with others. If someone asks you a question you need to have an answer. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1 Peter 3:15. If you know someone who fits the first three soils, then you need to prepare that person to accept the seeds of Christian faith that you sow. Prepare the soil by showing Christian love. It isn’t always easy, but the fruit of the harvest is worth the preparation. Prepare yourself to answer questions and defend your faith by studying God’s word. Live your life so others see Christ living in you…that makes planting seeds easier.
The question is, if you are a professing Christian today, which soil are you? You need to be sure that you are the fourth soil.Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Has your life changed since you accepted Christ? It’s a good idea to do some self-evaluation to be absolutely certain where you will spend eternity. Jesus said “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” Matthew 7:26. Only the foolish ignore His warnings. Jesus Christ is the One and only Savior and Lord and our only hope for everlasting life. Satan is the god of this world and if you aren’t born again he will take away the seeds that fell on the way side. It’s his intent to persuade you through evil means to reject Jesus Christ and His Word. Three of the soils in Jesus’ parable above are owned by Satan. He convinces many people that they are on good solid ground when in fact they are not rooted in Christian truth. Don’t fall for his traps. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that there are many ways to the Father, that good people will not go to Hell, or that all roads lead to Heaven. These are all lies that exist on the first three soils. Born again believers in Christ are firmly planted on soil four, the only ground where salvation is found.
When sowing seeds be sure to prepare the soil, but also be sure to prepare yourself to sow those seeds.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham