Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2 A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. 3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other 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! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
When Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling the Law and the prophets, He was here to seek and save those who were lost. Yet, He knew that He would soon be leaving the earth, and He needed to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry, when He was gone. Of course, He knew that we would have His Holy Spirit living within us, but there were still many things He needed to teach us about ministry. Therefore, He shared this parable with the people.
Later, after He explained why He spoke in parables to His disciples, (see Why Parables) He explained the meaning of this parable…
18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 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.
Have you ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone, and he/she just doesn’t get it? Even though the reality of Him is so real and so clear, this person simply can’t grasp what you’re saying. This has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence. I’ve known people who have read the bible from cover to cover, without ever hearing it speak to them. It often seems like the most logical people believe in the most illogical things. They’re more willing to believe in “coincidence”, rather than God’s answer to someone’s specific prayer. Or, they might believe in some unproved theory, such as evolution or a cosmic disaster from which life evolved, rather than seeing the evidence of God’s creative design.
The reason for the disbelief of many of these people is found in Matthew 13:18-19 NLT. Though they have heard the word of God, before it reached their hearts, the evil one came and snatched it away. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a person has, if the word of God never reaches his/her heart. Therefore, don’t be discouraged when you meet someone like this, because you now know how to pray for him/her. Pray that God’s word would reach this person’s heart, and that its roots would grow deep…
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.
When I ministered in prison, I can still remember how mightily the Lord would work on the hearts of the women. I remember one woman, in particular, who was so on fire for the Lord, and when she was released, she asked me to come to her home and pray for her, her new home, and her children, which I gladly did. I took her to church with me, and she wept through the whole service. She was so thankful to God for setting her free, and so was I, but, within a month, she was using crack again, and prostituting herself. She ended up going to another prison. It broke my heart. I continued to pray for her for several years after this (I still pray for her, whenever I think of her, like now), and I visited her at the other prison, and again, after she was released from that prison. The last I heard, she was living with a man that she wasn’t married to, but she was no longer using drugs. Still, sadly, she also wasn’t walking with the Lord. Oh, she knew the Christian lingo, but the fruit she bore, told another story.
I was really discouraged by this, and yet, it’s clear to me now, that she represented the rocky soil spoken of in Matthew 13:20-21 NLT. Father, I pray, in Jesus’ name that You would break the rocky soil of my friend’s heart, until it is no longer hardened against Your word. And I pray, Lord, that You would once again sow the seed of Your word into her heart, so that those seeds would take root, and those roots would grow deep into her heart. Let faith grow strong within her, and rekindle the love and the joy she once felt for You, in Jesus’ name.
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.
Have you ever met someone who worries about everything, all the time? As I read Matthew 13:22 NLT, my heart goes out to someone that I love dearly, and I’m moved to pray for this beloved person, for whom I haven’t known how to pray. In all honesty, I simply get so frustrated with this loved one, that I don’t even bother to pray. Father, forgive me for my impatience, and please touch the heart of this loved one, and remove the thorns of worry and anxiety that plague him/her constantly. Lord, just as You sent Your word and healed many others, I ask You to send Your word to my loved one, after the thorns are removed, and heal him/her, in Jesus’ name.
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!”
Of course, everyone wants to minister to someone who will truly hear and understand God’s word, but having lived with farmers for the last thirty-five years, I’ve learned a few things about soil. Did you know that not all soil is good for planting? Most times, soil has to be worked, fertilized and prepared for planting. Then, once it’s been planted, it needs to be weeded and tended. Knowing this, isn’t it just possible, that Jesus told this parable to the disciples (and to us too!), so they wouldn’t just give up on people?
Perhaps, we need to begin praying for God to work the soil of the hearts of those we love and minister to, so they will be prepared to receive the word of God, when it is planted…
Cheryl A. Showers