Lets take a look at the parable of the four soils, also known as the parable of the sower.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 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.”
So, the first thing that comes to my mind when I read this scripture is: Why does the farmer/sower throw seeds on the path, rocky ground and the thorns?
One of the things that I have always found important to myself is working efficiently, maximising my work output and working as quickly as possible but still being effective. I think this is something that is culturally accepted as a good thing within modern society. But, when we look at this scripture, the message isn’t that the farmer is at fault. In fact, during this time scattering as much seed as possible would be the most effective method of working for farmers. The fact that some of the seeds don’t produce a crop isn’t the fault of the farmer or the seed, it’s entirely dependent on the ground in which the seed falls.
Jesus then goes on to break down the parable and explain the meaning behind it. He explains that we are the farmers, the seeds are the word of God and that the soil represents the people we preach the word to. We come across four types of soil (hence the name!):
The path - The path represents people that completely reject Gods word. They hear the message and completely turn away from it.
Rocky ground - The rocky ground represents the people that hear Gods word and believe it but they do nothing about it. On the surface they are filled by the word and spirit but have no roots beneath.
Thorny ground - The thorny ground represents those who are choked by circumstances and cannot grow because of this.
The fertile ground - The fertile ground represents those who receive the word and then produce fruit as a result of this, changing and growing.
Sometimes we might preach the word and it will fall upon the first three types of ground. Does this mean that it isn’t worthwhile? Absolutely not.
This parable is all about faithfulness. The farmer is the same, the seed is the same and the sewing is the same. But the soil is different. Sometimes we will sew seeds and see no fruit, but we should persevere none the less. Our faithfulness and obedience shouldn’t be directed by the fruits that we see, we should be encouraged that the faithful farmer received a yield of 100 times more than he had sewn, even though many seeds had fallen on the wrong ground. God will honour your obedience and although the immediate results in front of you may not be apparent, the yield of crop is often much greater than you know.
I pray that we all might be as faithful as the farmer and continue to sew seeds with hope and perseverance.