Jesus told a scribe that he was not far from the kingdom of God (Mk. 12:34). King Agrippa told the apostle Paul that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian (Acts 26:28). Whether one is “almost” in the kingdom or “not far” from the kingdom or far away, he is still lost. To be saved from sin, one must be in the kingdom. Perhaps contemplating where we are spiritually will motivate us to correct the direction of our path and travel the road that leads to everlasting life.
One of the most interesting parables Jesus told reveals the spiritual condition of every person in the world. It is known as the Parable of the Sower and is related in Matthew 13. The parable describes four different kinds of soil upon which seed is sown. The productivity of the seed is directly related to the condition of the soil in which it is sown. The seed represents the word of God (Lk. 8:11) and the soil represents the heart of man. Let’s examine the parable noting the reception given the gospel.
The WAYSIDE soil represents those who are so hardened by sin that the seed of God’s word cannot penetrate (Mt. 13:4, 19; cf. Heb. 3:13). The human heart can be so hardened by pride, prejudice, inactivity, lethargy, mental laziness, or mental arrogance that the gospel is not received. An example of this is the people in Antioch of Pisidia who rejected the gospel (Acts 13:46). At Corinth hardness of some people’s heart was so great that Paul gave up on them as a lost cause (Acts 18:6).
The ROCKY soil represents the superficial hearer who lacks spiritual depth (Mt. 13:5-6, 20-21). A tree with a vast root system pulls moisture from the soil. The spiritual root system of a devoted Christian is developed in private Bible study, prayer, and faithful attendance to the worship services and Bible classes. A person cannot bear fruit upward unless he takes root downward (2 Kgs. 19:30).
The THORNY soil represents the crowded heart (Mt. 13:7, 22). It is not necessary to cultivate weeds. They grow naturally. Jesus mentions a trio of antagonists: (1) “The care of the world” refers to a score of interests which are legitimate in themselves, but which are allowed to dominate life to the exclusion of God. Participation in sports activities, hobbies, and career advancement are among them. (2) “The deceitfulness of riches” squelches the spiritual appetites of many (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10). (3) “The pleasures of life,” mentioned in Luke’s account (Lk. 8:14), choke out the gospel so that only the dregs of life remain for spiritual pursuits.
The GOOD soil represents those who receive the gospel and produce spiritual fruit in their lives (Mt. 13:8, 23).
The Samaritan woman in Sychar (John 4) illustrates all four kinds of soil. At first, she was antagonistic to Christ (vs. 9). The shallowness of her spiritual understanding becomes evident in verse 15. Her crowded heart (vs. 19-20) grew into a good heart when she acknowledged faith in Christ (vs. 25). She bore much fruit by telling her fellow citizens about Christ (vs. 29-30). As a result, many of them became disciples of Jesus (vs. 39-42).
Where do you fit in the story? Where are you, spiritually? Is it where you want to stay?