Vol. 4, No. 8
~ Page 14 ~
Jesus was a teacher of rare ability. At the close of the Sermon of the Mount, Matthew tells us: "... the people were astonished at this doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:28-29). On another occasion, temple guards dispatched to arrest him returned empty-handed. They defended their failure by saying, "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46).
He was especially effective in his use of parables. One of his most familiar parables was that of the "Sower and the Seed" (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23; Mark 4:3-8, 13-20; Luke 8:5-8, 11-15). The seed represented the Word of God, and the soils stood for the hearts of men (Luke 8:11). Obviously, the productivity of the seed is determined by the type of soil in which it is planted. The same can be said regarding the Word of God. The impact of the Word is determined by the nature of the heart in which it enters. In the parable, Jesus identified four types of soil (hearts) -- the wayside, the rocky, the thorny and the good. All of us can see ourselves somewhere in the parable.
The wayside represents those hearts which are hardened by sin (Hebrews 3:8, 13). There are some among us who have completely closed our minds to the Gospel. They refuse to give the Lord a fair hearing. They will not examine the evidence. Their ears are stopped. Their eyes are shut. Their minds are closed. Their hearts are hardened. Remember, the fault lies not with the seed, but the soil.
The rocky ground is shallow. The seed penetrates the soil, germinates and sprouts, but soon withers and dies because it has no depth. These are those who never get beyond the first principles of the Gospel. Shallow hearts prevent deep roots. When the trials and temptations of life are brought to bear, faith wanes and then dies.
The thorny ground stands for those whose hearts are open and receptive to the seed, but in time the cares, riches and pleasures of this world crowd out the Lord. Priorities change. Jesus is dethroned. Money and other matters drive the heart and guide the steps while the Gospel is forgotten. The love of money is still the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
The good ground represents the good and honest heart which receives the Word with gladness. The seed extends deep roots and brings forth a thriving plant. The end result is a bountiful harvest, a life of faithfulness, devotion and service to the Lord.
All of us, if we are honest, will see ourselves in this parable. Which soil are we? If not good soil, are we willing to do what it takes to correct the problem? That's the question we confront each day.
Some of my fondest memories of childhood revolve around sunny Sunday afternoon. I grew up in the country. Both my parents came from large families. Their siblings were all married with children and lived nearby. Sunday afternoons regularly brought many of them to our house. Softball, badminton and horseshoes were typical afternoon pastimes. And the games were so frequent that grass didn't stand a chance. Did my parents complain about the damage done to our lawn? Not once that I recall. In fact, they were almost always involved in the games. There is not enough money in the world to buy the memories I have growing up on Bunner Ridge. But, today I know parents who won't let their children or grandchildren walk, let alone play on the lawn.
Not long ago I read about a woman who bought a beautiful new dining room table which was finished with a special polyurethane varnish that guaranteed it to be waterproof, stain-proof and mar-proof. Unsatisfied, she bought a finely made cloth to protect the beautiful tabletop. Still not feeling safe, she purchased a quality plastic cover to protect the tablecloth. Then, to protect the new plastic cover she decided to eat off the old table in the kitchen.
You may find it hard to believe, but I know people who are much like that woman. They won't use their best china or their best silver. They're saving them for a special occasion. I once knew a man who bought a new suit, but his wife wouldn't let him wear it. He had to save it for his funeral.
What good is good china, fine silver, a new suit or a lush lawn if unused? These things can be repaired or replaced if worn out or damaged. I doubt that anyone gets them with the intent never to use them. But, the right time never seems to come, and before you know it, it's too late.
The same thing is true in regard to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Few who know and believe his message plan to face judgment and eternity unprepared. Yet, they delay their response to him, often until it's too late. That's exactly why Paul wrote: "... behold, now it the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
What are you waiting for? If you believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (John 8:24), then you need to repent of your sins and be baptized (Acts 2:38). There is real danger in delay. Upon your obedience to him, he will add you to his church (Acts 2:47), and you can live the remainder of your life in service to him. The time for action is now. Tomorrow may be too late!