The Parable of the Seed and the Soil

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4:3-8

In Mark chapter 4, Jesus teaches us the meaning behind the Parable of the Seed and the Soil.

He explains that the seed is the word of God and the sower is the one who goes out sharing the Word of God with others. He then goes on to explain how the different soils represent the various conditions of men’s hearts who hear the Word.

The Hardened Hearts

And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. – Mark 4:15

The wayside is the like the path or the road. It is hardened because so many feet have walked on that soil. And thus this represents the man or woman with a hardened heart.

If the condition of our heart is hard, it doesn't need much for Satan to be able to take away the Word of God that has been was sown in your heart. Click To Tweet

Perhaps they have been stepped on so many times, that it is just too hard for God’s word to penetrate and take root. They have listened to Sunday’s sermon, but it does not take long before they are distracted and have forgotten what they just heard.

For some people, God’s word gets plucked from their heart before they even get out of the church parking lot. Something as simple as traffic frustrations, lunch plans, ruined lunch plans, a ding in the car, can quickly get our hearts distracted from what we just heard when our hearts are hard.

If the condition of our heart is hard, it doesn’t need much for Satan to be able to take away the Word of God that was sown in your heart that morning.

The Shallow Heart

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. – Mark 4:16-17

Much of the land in Israel is very rocky. Although it may look like good soil on the surface, there could be nothing but rock within an inch or two of the surface. So the seed would take hold and begin to bloom just like all the other seeds. But because it is so shallow with no room for the plant to build up a root system, as soon as the sun comes up it is scorched and withers away.

This verse represents the person with a shallow heart. It is the emotional hearer who enthusiastically accepts God’s Word but is not ready for the sincere commitment following Jesus entails. They begin with great excitement and a willingness to serve and do all sorts of things for Jesus, but when trials and hard times come around, the enthusiasm and joy disappears.

As an old friend who was struggling with his attempts to get clean and sober once said “I want to grow and be a better Christian, but I am just not ‘sold out’ for Jesus.” That says it all, doesn’t it?

The Crowded Heart

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. – Mark 4:18-19

When you read the word thorns, I want you to think of weeds and how quickly weeds can overcome your garden and lawn when left unattended. And that’s what happens when we let the cares of this world consume all of our time and efforts.

Like weeds, the cares of this world can quickly overcome your heart and begin to choke out the things of God that you have learned. Click To Tweet

I think this is one we have to be most careful with. We are never too far along in our Christian walk where any of these conditions can come up and detour us from our destination. But I think this is one of the most dangerous ones because the weeds are relentless and keep coming back to distract us and drown us out.

It can be bills, house payments, lifestyle choices, promotions, pay raise, the news, politics, our current jobs, new jobs, our careers, our health, our medical bills, our kids, our parents, toys, gadgets, Facebook, Snapchat, the internet, community service, whatever it is you were thinking that you need to do as you were just reading this.

None of those things are wrong and just about all of those things are essentials of life. But when we allow those things to take up all our time, energy and effort, then we risk them choking out the Word of God in our lives, and we can stop producing fruit.

So ask yourselves right now, have you stopped producing fruit? If so, why is that?

Perhaps you are letting the cares of this world choke out your time with God and serving others.

In Closing

But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. – Mark 4:20

I think the biggest mistake we can make is assuming that we are the good soil. The reality is that the condition of our hearts can change anytime.

On any given day, our hearts can go from being ready to let God’s word take root, to the exact opposite, so it is essential to be aware of the current condition of our heart.

So ask yourself, what is the condition of your heart right now? What is the most pressing thing on your plate? Is it Jesus?

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Geno is the lead pastor at Connect Marina located in Marina, CA. He is husband to Vivien Quiroz. They have two wonderful boys, and two needy dogs. He is passionate about Jesus, family, building community, and sharing the Word of God. Pastor Geno’s method of teaching is solidly expositional, following the Inductive Method of Observation, Interpretation, and Application.