Four Hearts-One Soil
Parables are fascinating. Above all others Jesus was the Master storyteller and the supreme ‘parabler’. In the Gospels more than 35 of Christ's parables are recorded. Many others were spoken John says – but these are the ones He wanted us to hear.
Parables were primarily not for reading, but hearing. Not for studying but for heeding. And Jesus uses them to expose the hearts of His hearers. In His first parable, and most important parable, Jesus is the farmer, His Word is the seed, and the listeners are like soil. All the soils are essentially the same. It is the preparation that differs. One soil has become hard as stone, another has become shallow, another has become crowded, and the last – has become just right.
Jesus presents this parable with Himself as the farmer (Matthew 13.37) seeking to grow a crop. Everything, as far as farmer Jesus is concerned -- depends upon the harvest. All the soils get the same farmer’s sowing, the same seed, the same growing season, the same rainfall, and so on. But only one soil could be harvested; only one gave to the farmer what he needed and wanted. Only one soil made it to the end of the season and was carried home by the farmer. So from the perspective of the farmer – which soil was good? Only the one that gave a harvest!
Jesus explains that the soils are the hearts of hearers. The difference in the soils (hearts) is based on their willingness to accept to seed (Word of God). Jesus puts the responsibility for responding to His sowing -- on the hearers. He says some hearts are hardened, some are shallow, some are crowded, and some are ready and willing.
God's Word is truth. Jesus explained that we by our choices either prepare our hearts to receive truth – or to reject it. Truth is only heard by prepared hearts. This is so vital that Jesus mentions ‘hearing’ no less than 13 times in this chapter. Genuine hearing involves truth acted upon and invites more truth. False hearing ignores and rejects truth and leads to further darkness. James defines Biblical hearing as understanding and obeying truth (James 1:22–25).
The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God’s message. While Jesus was talking about four different kinds of hearts and each ones readiness to receive the gospel, his words could also apply to us in two other ways: (1) different times or phases in our lives; (2) how we willingly receive God’s message in some areas of our lives and resist it in others. For example, you may be open to God about your future, but closed concerning how you spend your money. You may respond like good soil to God’s demand for worship, but be like rocky soil with regard to helping people in need. Strive to be like good soil in every area of your life at all times.
OPEN YOUR EARS!: The hearing Jesus wants from us is not the kind we use to listen to background radio music or when someone starts to recount a long story we’ve already heard. To hear Jesus’ words is to believe them, to use them immediately in decisions and attitudes, and to base life on them—our recreation and work, family plans and money matters, schooling and voting, praying and singing. To hear Jesus’ words is to make Jesus our true Lord. What is Jesus saying to you?
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