Jesus said there are four types of soil or hearts into which the seed – the message of the kingdom – fell. Soil is soil is soil is soil – dirt is dirt is… a heart is… The issue is not the soil. The issue is what has influenced the soil or heart. All four soils could produce if not hard, not rocky, or not thorny. Rocks and weeds have always been in soil. They are indigenous to dirt. Soil is the native environment for rocks and thorns. The foreign substance is the seed – the word of the kingdom.
PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM
By Pastor Delbert Young
Four Types of Soil
Scriptures: Matthew 13:1-3, Matthew 13:3, Matthew 13:34, Mark 4:13, Matthew 13:3, Matthew 13:4, Matthew 13:5-6, Matthew 13:7, Matthew 13:8-9, Matthew 13:18-19, 1 John 2:18, Matthew 13:20-21, Matthew 13:22, Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:20, Luke 8:15
As we look into Matthew chapter 13, we need to realize we are looking at a monumental section of all the Holy Scriptures. It’s here Jesus speaks specifically about his kingdom. It’s here Jesus speaks about the age in which we live. Let’s begin.
Matthew 13:1-3 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying…
“That same day…” was the same day Jesus told the religious system they committed the unpardonable sin – blasphemed the Holy Spirit and would not be forgiven (12:32). It was the same day Jesus denounced that/their generation (12:42). It was the same day Jesus said their wicked generation was like a demon possessed person full of eight demons. What a day!
Jesus was extremely popular, both positively and negatively, generating extreme curiosity. He fascinated people. Imagine having access to someone who could heal any disease there is, multiply food, and publicly speak and teach like Jesus. This is especially true in days when there was no television and little entertainment. “Let’s go see that guy Jesus.” Large crowds gathered.
As the crowd pressed in to see and hear him, Jesus stepped into a boat. Fishermen beached their boats after fishing. One was there. The disciples perhaps waded out waist deep, held the boat steady, and Jesus sat and began speaking parables and many of them, maybe most, didn’t understand a thing he talked about. Up to this point Jesus spoke clearly. To this point no specific “parables” Jesus spoke are recorded. He spoke using figures of speech and allusions, but no parables. He spoke clearly until that day.
Matthew 13:3 Then he told them many things in parables…
Matthew 13:34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.
Jesus spoke to them in parables and only in parables. The entire sermon was parables. What is a parable? Parable, parabole in Greek, means a similitude, i.e. fictitious narrative (of common life conveying a moral). All those people came to see Jesus, but all he did was sit in a boat and tell stories – fictitious narratives about dirt, seed, thorns, rocks, weeds, birds, wheat, trees, leaven, a pearl, a treasure, a net, and fish. How do you think they felt about what he said?
Every parable Jesus spoke is filled with profound truth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read and taught this first parable. Every time I do, I find something deeper and richer than before. Before we begin, I need to emphasize this: Later, when alone (Mar 4:12), the disciples asked Jesus what the parable meant. The response of Jesus is most interesting.
Mark 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?
There’s something about this parable that will open our understanding to any parable.
Matthew 13:3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.
This was something very familiar to the people. As Jesus sat in the boat speaking and the people stood on the shore, Jesus could very possibly have pointed to someone doing this very thing. A person took a bag, filled it with seed, draped it over the shoulder, and began walking in a straight line across a field reaching into the bag, handful at the time, broadcasting the seed. When he reached the end of the field he turned and continued sowing the seed until the field was sowed. As he broadcast seed, Jesus said there were four soils into which the seed fell. First, was the soil making the path around and separating the fields.
Matthew 13:4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell ALONG THE PATH, and the birds came and ate it up.
The path was used by the farmers getting to and around their plots and used by travelers getting a snack (Mt 12:1). The soil was packed hard from walking and uncultivated. It was never loosened. As the farmer broadcast his seed, some fell upon hard path soil. Not raked and covered, the birds came and ate it up, of course producing nothing.
The second type soil is rocky soil.
Matthew 13:5-6 Some fell on ROCKY PLACES, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Just beneath the soil would be rocks most likely too large and difficult to remove. A thin layer of soil covered those rocks. The seed germinated and sprang up quickly. All the growth went up as the rocks prevented the development of a root system. So, the sun scorched them and theywithered. The plants died, producing nothing.
The third type soil was full of thorns.
Matthew 13:7 Other seed fell among THORNS, which grew up and choked the plants.
The thorns were not there when the farmer broadcast the seed. The soil appeared plowed and ready. However, thorn seeds and thorn roots were in the soil, which grew back and choked the plants. Thorns took the resources – food, water, nutrients, sunshine. The plants were choked,producing nothing.
The fourth soil Jesus spoke about was good soil.
Matthew 13:8-9 Still other seed fell on GOOD SOIL, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. HE WHO HAS EARS, LET HIM HEAR.”
It’s good soil, not hard and uncultivated like the path soil. It’s not shallow like the rocky soil. It’s not filled with thorns like the thorny soil. It’s good soil. It received the seed and produced a cropeach seed producing 100x, or 60x, or 30x.
Then Jesus said, He who has ears let him hear. What does this mean? If you can understand this then understand it. If you can get it then get it. With no explanation what were the people thinking?
As we said, the disciples later asked what all this meant. Here comes the interpretation.
Matthew 13:18-19 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone HEARS THE MESSAGE ABOUT THE KINGDOM and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was SOWN IN HIS HEART. This is the seed sown along the path.
HEARS what and DOES NOT UNDERSTAND what? How many people who go to church understand THE MESSAGE ABOUT THE KINGDOM? How many ever heard it? Nearly every Christian I know believes the kingdom is something to come one day after a rapture and great tribulation. If you tell most Christians, especially preachers, the kingdom is a present reality, they call you a heretic. The evil one came and snatched away the seed. What do you understand about the kingdom?
The message about the kingdom is always met with hardness and the birds are close, so at conferences etc. I’ve taught, I go ahead and say something to “earthquake” the hard soil and make people look for themselves. I say something like, “You did know the word ‘antichrist’ is not in the Book of Revelation.” Or, “Antichrist isn’t someone coming. Antichrists are plural and were here 2000 years ago (1Jn 2:18).” Some of you need an earthquake, so take a look for yourselves.
1 John 2:18 Dear children, THIS IS THE LAST HOUR; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, EVEN NOW MANY ANTICHRISTS HAVE COME. This is how we know it is the last hour.
So, last hour, last days, were 2000 years ago. Or, I’ll say, “The word “rapture” is not in your bible.” Or, “There is no “battle of Armageddon” spoken of in the Bible. It’s a place they gathered. However, there is no place on the planet named Armageddon.” Those thoughts will usually earthquake hard path soil.
Soil is soil is soil is soil – dirt is dirt is… The issue is not the soil. The issue is what has influenced the soil. In what condition is the soil? All four soils could produce if not hard, not rocky, or not thorny.
The SEED is the MESSAGE ABOUT THE KINGDOM. The different SOIL is the HEART. All hearts could produce if not hard, not rocky, or not thorny. How does the heart respond to the kingdom message?
Jesus said, the evil one comes and SNATCHES AWAY what was sown in his HEART. Snatches(harpazo) is a violent word. Some people literally become violent when you talk about the kingdom. The birds are the evil one who comes and snatches away the message about the kingdom. The message doesn’t have a chance. People have no clue the devil removed God’s precious message about the kingdom from their heart.
So, the first soil is a hard heart toward the message about the kingdom. The heart has been pounded and packed with the doctrine of men, religion, and sin. Both religious people and the lost are hard to the kingdom. Is this your heart? Have you been hardened by doctrine? For others, have you been hardened by sin?
Matthew 13:20-21 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who HEARS THE WORD and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
Notice Jesus expanded the “message about the kingdom” to the word. The rocks in the heart will not allow roots to grow and the person is all exterior. They sprang up quickly. They have an emotional moment and become excited about the message about the kingdom and teaching of the word. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. We see this frequently. People become excited about Jesus and church, about the message about the kingdom, and the teaching of the word, but in a short time, we ask, where are they? Jesus said trouble or persecution comes and the emotional moment did not root them. Personal persecution or persecution at the church comes and they quickly fall away.
Over the years I’ve taught the message about the kingdom and the word in depth to people. They received with joy. “Man! That’s great. Wonderful lesson! I see it. I need this. Thank you for showing me,” but when things don’t go the way they thought things should, sadly, they fall away. I’ve baptized them. I’ve spent time teaching them. It’s interesting because you really can’t tell until the heat comes if they have roots or not. So, how’s your root system? How deep can you grow? I’m not talking about how deep you can go. How deep can you GROW?
Matthew 13:22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who HEARS THE WORD, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
This is the person more interested in what the world has to offer than what the word and kingdom have to offer. It’s when the house, car, wardrobe, prestige, time, etc. are more important than the word and the kingdom. Jesus said riches and wealth are deceitful. They promise what they cannot deliver. Paul said the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1Tim 6:10). These people never clean out the thorns of deceitfulness of wealth from their heart/soil. Jesus said you can’t tolerate both the love of money and the love of God.
Remember, the soil is good. It’s all the same “good soil.” The problem is what’s in the soil – rocks and thorns. Rocks have always been in the rocky soil. Rocks are indigenous to dirt. Soil is the native environment for thorns and weeds. It’s the seed that is foreign. Our hearts are full of rocks and thorns. They’ve always been there. For the message of the kingdom and the word to grow and produce, the rocks and thorns must be removed and the heart prepared. Nothing’s wrong with the farmer, the seed, or the soil. The only problem is what’s in the soil. When a heart is full of thorns – deceitfulness of riches – the thorns will choke out the kingdom and the word every time.
We’ve all seen and maybe been thorny soil. It’s where people can’t commit to the kingdom and God’s word. They’re here and then they’re not. Their lives choke. I fear there are some in this room right now. So, how’s your soil, meaning, how’s your heart concerning the word of God and his kingdom?
Matthew 13:23 But the one who RECEIVED THE SEED that fell on good soil is the man who HEARS THE WORD AND UNDERSTANDS IT. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, ACCEPT IT, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, RETAIN IT, and by persevering produce a crop.
The good soil is the person who received, hears, understands, accepts, and retains the word. They produced great lives 30x, 60x, and 100x times better than others, or the life they could have had. They produce the word and the kingdom. True believers produce a crop. It was the same soil except they cultivated and plowed the hard packed soil, removed the rocks, and removed the thorns. All the soils received the same seed, but only one in the four had great productive lives.
Jesus is THE sower, but I’m a sower, and you’re a sower. You and I have run into the hard soil. They will not receive the message about the kingdom. We’ve met the rocky soil. They sprang up fast, but today where are they? We’ve all seen the thorny soil when people simply care more about stuff than about Jesus and his kingdom, but there is good soil around you everyday too. There are people who will soften to the message of the kingdom, remove the rocks and grow roots, remove the thorns and make the kingdom and God’s word the priority.
The good soil keeps me doing what I do. Some of you are amazing. I’ve watched your lives over all these years and decades. I’ve watched you soften to the message of the kingdom. I’ve watched you dynamite the rocks so you could root. I’ve watched you pull out thorns and give, give, give. Today, I look at your lives and I see fruit – some 100x, some 60x, and some 30x. I want you to know you have a 100x better life than you would have had, or 60x better life than you could have had, or a 30x better life. You received God’s kingdom. You are experiencing a divine life.
In conclusion, number one, sow seed. You don’t have to be a preacher. “A farmer went out to sow seed,” not a preacher. The issue is the condition of the soil not the talent of the sower. Sow the seed you have. The more you broadcast the better chance you have to cast upon good soil.
Number two, if you’ve already sowed a field, but it was pathway, rocky, or thorny and what you sowed didn’t make it, sow it again. God’s always plowing hard path soil. God’s always dynamiting rocks. God’s always removing thorns. Sow it again.
Number three, what type soil are you? If you look at your heart today, which of these soils best describes your heart? What do you need to do? HE WHO HAS EARS, LET HIM HEAR.
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