This is the first full on parable we hear from Jesus, although he did give numerous illustrations to explain his points on previous occasions.
Here he gives a picture of a farmer scattering his seed along the ground. It wasn’t, perhaps, the most efficient way of doing things by modern standards, but it was how things were done in those days.
Some of the seed fell on hard ground, and Jesus said that these are the people that hear God’s word but don’t understand it. I think we can add another point here: they make no effort to understand it. As I mentioned before, the parables distinguished the people who really wanted to learn from those who simply wanted to be entertained. The ones who really wanted to learn, like Jesus’ disciples, asked questions. Those who didn’t, just went home. Perhaps they enjoyed their time listening to Jesus, but because they didn’t understand the true message, nor did they try, Satan quickly took those seeds Jesus had planted and they forgot what they heard.
Others fell on rocky ground. The picture here is not a bunch of rocks on the ground, rather it was a thin layer of dirt on limestone. Because the dirt was so shallow, the seeds quickly sprouted, but because there was no root, they died in the heat of the day. Jesus said that these were people who heard his words and received them with great joy, even believing them for a short time, but when persecution or trouble came, they fell away. Were these ever true Christians? Probably not, since they “had no root.” It’s possible that all they had was an emotional experience. But when the emotion wore off, and trouble came because of their “faith,” they quickly fell away.
Still other seeds fell on thorny ground, and when they grew up, they were choked out by the thorns. Jesus said these were those whose faith was choked out by the worries of life, and the desire for wealth, pleasure, and possessions. Too many Christians are like this today. They are so in love with the world, they’ve forgotten their love for Jesus.
Finally, there are those who fell on the good ground, and produced great fruit. Jesus says these are those who hear God’s word, understand it, accept it, and retain it. Such people bear great fruit for the kingdom of God.
What kind of heart do you have?
When you hear God’s word and don’t understand it, do you just leave it to the side, or do you seek to understand? Do you ask questions? It’s through questions that we grow. But if we never ask, we never grow, and Satan takes away the seed God wants to plant in your heart.
When you go to church, are you just seeking an emotional experience? Emotions come and go. They go up and down according to our circumstances. And if you try to build your faith on your emotions, it will not last. Are you instead building your faith on Christ and his Word?
What are you seeking in your life? Is God above all? Or are you so busy seeking, money, pleasure, and things, that you don’t have time for God anymore? That you no longer seek his will in your life? That you no longer pursue his kingdom?
Or are you a person that hears God’s word and pursues understanding? Do you accept God’s word, trusting that it is true, and retain it in your heart and mind, bearing fruit as a result?
What is the state of your heart?