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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parable of the Sower (Part 2)

We will pick up today by looking at the farmer in our parable.

Text: Mark 4:1-4:20, also Matthew 13:1- 23

The farmer is God. He scatters the Word of God on the hearts of people. The condition of the hearts of people are represented by four types of soil: Hard soil, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil. The soil also determines the quality of spiritual yield in our lives.

At first glance it may appear that the farmer is being careless; that he wastes his valuable seed in unproductive areas, but this is not so. In first century Palestine the seed was scattered first, then, the soil was plowed to work the seed into the soil.

The farmer is not careless at all, the Word can grow in all of these types of soil. The hard ground, or path, is a trail through his field made by people or animals. Of course he is going to spread seed here,
he will plow through it later. But notice, before he can get to the plowing the birds take the seed. In verse 15, we see Jesus saying this very thing, "the birds represent the activity of Satan against the kingdom of God." His reference is to the activity of Satan and is a continuation of the theme from the previous verses in chapter three. We must keep in mind that Jesus has come to earth for a reason. Jesus has come bring the kingdom of God, which is growing and pushing out the kingdom of Satan.

Another lesson we learn from this parable is that a heart that is hard like the pathway resists cultivation. It is not that it can’t be cultivated, it can; but it is very difficult. So, the chances of the seed being taken away are very high. But you know, the farmer will be back to sow again.

Many of us have friends or family who have hard hearts. Whenever we bring up the subject of Jesus they get angry, they mock us, they turn away and our hearts become heavy. But, over the years some of the most difficult, some of the most hard-hearted people have given their lives over to Jesus.

On to the rocky ground...

This is not ground covered in rocks, but ground that has rocks a few inches under the surface. It is thin soil, but looks like any other soil before plowing. The trouble begins later after the seed takes root. The roots cannot go very deep, because although the soil looks like any other soil, it is in fact hard, like the soil on the path and the result is that the plants become parched, wilted, and unproductive.

Could this be you?

This is a person who goes to church, has made a commitment to the Lord, they certainly believe, but deep down inside, they know, most of it is for show. The rocky ground is a reference to superficial adherence to the Word of God. It means I hear the Word, but I do not apply it to my life very well.
There is an unwillingness to endure, in difficult times, as a Christian. This person might be embarrassed at work or other places about being a Christian. This person doesn’t live their life any different than they did before becoming a Christian, except that they might go to church.

What we see here is that the Word of God cannot penetrate to a deeper level of understanding. The Word, which they used to understand, is like an enigma, a puzzle, a mystery. Those planted in rocky soil desire to hear only what feels good, what will encourage them, they want to walk away from a Sunday Morning service inspired, and are disappointed if the Sunday was a “downer”.

People who have hearts of rocky soil have great difficulty following up on instruction from the Word,
they are people who once could hear the Word, but have become deaf to the Word.

Here’s one way we can check to see if we might be this type of soil: Look at Galatians 5:22-3, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”

These are fruits of the Holy Spirit seen in the life of all Christians. If you are growing and maturing as a Christian, you should see these things increasing in your life. I’m not saying you will, in any way be fully there, but you should have more self control than you did before you became a Christian, and five years from now you should have even more self control. If these are not increasing in your life, this is deadly serious, you may be living in rocky soil; or perhaps you are living among weeds. For along with the rocks, weeds can stop or slow spiritual growth stifling the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

For several years I lived in a very hot and dry climate. And in a hot, dry climate, a lawn needs deep watering. A quick 10 minute watering would produce grass that would dry out in the heat of August, as the roots could only find water near the surface. But a 20 minute watering would force the roots deeper and produce a lawn that could tolerate the trials and suffering of the intense heat of August.

This applies to us as we work with the Word of God. A quick glance or reading of God’s word will not help us in difficult times, but a deep soaking will bring our spiritual roots deep into Him and we will be able to live through difficult trials.

Without deep roots, we soon lose sight of God. We may get to the point where we wonder if He is even there anymore.


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