I have long desired to write about this one, yet for some reason was not able to push through with what I wanted to say. Now, I hope I would be able to.
I think I started getting interested in these passages again after discussing with a dear friend, Jana Mier, regarding the peoples’ different takes on which among the soil types were believers, and which were not. Apparently the only consensus between bible-believing Christians is that the first soil is definitely condemned, while the fourth soil is definitely saved.
The importance of this story can be clearly seen from the fact that it was recorded in three out of four gospel accounts:
For the most part, I think I agree with the author Bob Deffinbaugh (you may read the full article here),
“I believe that the first soil represents those who are lost, and that the fourth soil represents those who are saved, but I do not believe that the Lord’s purpose in telling the parable is to distinguish between believers and unbelievers. There is only one kind of soil which attains the goal. The goal which our Lord holds out in this parable is not that of being saved, but that of reaching full maturity and of bearing fruit. Someone might argue that a “rocky soil” person or a “thorny soil” person is a true believer, but our Lord would have us understand that they have not reached the goal for which they were saved. We are saved, not only to escape divine wrath and to live forever in heaven, but to attain to the “fullness of the stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:13 ) and to bear fruit (John 15:5 ).”
PERSONAL LESSONS AND REFLECTIONS
Our Relationship With Jesus
One of the best indicators or delineators of a person’s relationship with Jesus, both in terms of position and depth of intimacy, is his response to His words. The hard hearts have different levels of responses: from blatant rejection, to indifference, and even conditional acceptance (if God would do this, then, I will believe in Him).
For the other soils, it may involve anything from repentance, to saving faith, to continuous repentance from all habits ungodly, big or small. For some it is the continuous conformity and struggling to submit to both His biblically commanded will and special commands (“that still small voice”).
Indeed, if “Justice delayed is justice denied”, then Obedience delayed is disobedience nonetheless. A term used in logistics is the acronym, OTIF, “On Time and In Full”. This term might as well describe man’s proper response to God.
Sowing and Cultivation
People have pointed out that the mere fact that the sower spread the seeds indiscriminately indicates that we should not be picky about sharing the Gospel. In the first place, we are not omnipotent to be able to tell the difference between a receptive, thirsty soul and one that is only pretending to listen.
A good number of Jesus’ parables had to do with agricultural illustrations. This one is no exception. In this parable, the level of cultivation is directly related to the receptiveness of the soul. I think that it will not be out of line or allegorical for me to conclude that “cultivation” is an essential part of evangelism. People may not believe the same message from a stranger as he would have, coming from a trusted friend, in this post-modernist world, especially, where “genuineness” is often a greater virtue than absolute truth, and where trust is always demanded but rarely supplied.
On Concealing Truth
Jesus did not make a “hard sell” out of his message. Commentators have pointed out various reasons for concealing his message. Most of them related to the fulfilment of past prophetic utterances. Yet in a way, this “concealment” of the truth served as a filter, differentiating those who were genuinely interested in what Jesus had to say from those who were merely killing time.
Points to Ponder
How is your heart accepting God’s word?
How are you responding?
Do you share God’s word without being picky? Or do you always wait for those “divine appointments” that have a 99.9% chance of ending in a “sinners’ prayer”?
How do you think can you help in cultivating “hard soil”?
How genuinely interested are you in knowing Jesus?
Jesus desires, expects, and commands all believers to bear fruit. Do you desire to bear fruit? Is your life geared towards that goal?
Read more from: