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Matthew 13:18-23Jesus illustrates receptivity (ears to hear) by the use of four soils-by the side of the road, the rocky places, among the thorns and the good soil. These represent what kind of receptivity you might expect as you participate in the sowing of the seed of the Gospel and, these soils also illustrate the various degrees of receptivity we each experience in our own lives.
Now note the interpretation of these soils: (1) The soil which is along the path. 18 "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path.
NOTE what the message that is being sown here is-the Kingdom. This blows my mind. I have heard this, read it, and taught this passage for many years, but I never saw that the message that is being planted is the message of the Kingdom. And, it is this message that those who are the soil along the path hear, but do not understand. Since there is no understanding of what they are hearing, the seed is snatched away.
(2) The soil which is in rocky places. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
NOTE the Kingdom message is referred to in the next three soils as the word. This soil on the rocky ground is quite shallow, therefore the seed cannot take root and lasts for a short time. Jesus points out that the problem here is trouble and persecution. These overcome those who are the soil on the rocky ground. And, it's because of the word or the Kingdom message that they are finding trouble and being persecuted. This persecution is most likely verbal as Jesus has mentioned before.
(3) The soil which is among the thorns. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
NOTE the seed here falls among the thorns. This is where people hear the word or the Kingdom message and the word is choked. The choking or smothering of the word is due to the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Worries of this life is when you allow the stresses that surround you and threaten your security to overwhelm you, instead of placing your trust in Him. The deceitfulness of wealth is thinking that there is some sort of security in money, places and things. This is perhaps the greatest "over-promise and under-deliver" proposition in this world, believing this stuff can make you happy or might be fulfilling. The end result is that this soil is unfruitful.
(4) The good soil. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
NOTE that the entire goal has to do with fruitfulness. Only one out of four of the soils is productive or fruitful. And, the fruitfulness listed as the "good soil" here is monumental-phenomenal fruitfulness.
Fruitfulness depends upon four things: FIRST-Open up your heart, being interested in seeing and hearing all God has in store for you.
SECOND-Keep your focus on Jesus and the Kingdom no matter what kinds of trouble and persecution come your way.
THIRD-Refuse to be caught up in the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth. This is trusting in everyone and everything else other than the God of gods.
FOURTH-Let God bring about the fruitfulness. Stop trying to do it yourself.
I see each of these 4 soils as fluid. In other words, we have all been each one of these soils at one time or another. Can you remember the times you were one or more of these soils in your life? One more question: Where are you now?