Both Matthew and Mark have placed the Parable of the Sower right after the arrival of the family of Jesus, who came to one of His gatherings to try and put an end to His mission (Mark 3:21). The Jewish leaders had already made up their minds about Him and now His own family was turning against Him. Although Luke places their arrival after this parable, still it was in and around that time that Jesus narrated this parable about a farmer and how it was not his seeds, but the difference in the seeding grounds that produced different results.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.Mark 4:3-8
Some seeds fell on the stony pathway that led up to the fields. These seeds were not able to penetrate the soil and were left on the wayside as fodder for the birds. These are folks who listen to the word but have no intention to plant it in their hearts. And no sooner have they heard it, satan comes along and takes the word of God away, by giving worldly blessings or worries (whichever works), that distract them from coming closer to God. Even a basic doubt shakes them to their core and they leave God without a second thought.
Some seeds fell among rocky soil that would have been formed at the edges as no one tills the soil near the corners of the fields. The seeds that were sown here have no space to grow their roots and as a result, sprout up prematurely. Since these plants are not deep-rooted, the harsh sun dries them up as quickly as they had sprouted. These rocky soil are believers who receive immediate relief or answer to their prayers and thereby limit God’s power to only fulfilling their prayer requests. They have no desire to know God deeper or to understand the plans that He has for them. They are dependent on people around them to even connect them with God and when they face the storms of lives, they are not able to stand on their own. They wither away from the fold of God forgetting the temporary relief, peace or even the joy they had experienced when they first came to God.
Some seeds fell among the thorny bushes, perhaps shrubs of flowers that were planted in the adjacent fields. They had the soil to grow and their surrounding seemed colourful and pleasant as well. But when they wanted to grow more, the interlocked thorns of these bushes, suffocated them and prevented them from growing to their full potential. The people who look at the exterior glamour of a fellowship do not realise that roses have thorns too. Once they start growing spiritually, the people around them, either out of jealousy or self-preservation, stunt their growth so that they remain dependant on the fellowship forever. These people do not experience the word of God, work to its full potential in their lives.
Finally, there were the seeds that made it to the good soil, exactly where they were meant to be sown. These seeds germinate to full-grown crops as they had been planted on the good soil and had fully developed roots. Once out of the soil they have room to grow and are able to attain their full potential. These are people who hear the word of God and sow it in their hearts. Not only do they hear the word of God but also apply it in their lives and when problems come their way they know how to handle every situation with God by their side. They keep growing and maturing in Christ as the works of the word of God have no end. The same word of God is given to everyone, but based on our own desires does the word of God manifests its works in our lives.
Our walks with Christ are a continuous journey as every day He teaches us to be more like Him. But the length of our relationship with Him has no bearing on the type of ground that we are. One day we can be the good soil absorbing all that he teaches. But the very next day we can be like rocky soil, not completely understanding His words. The type of soil that we are depends on how we apply His word in our lives. Some words we might happily apply but some we might ignore. Just like seeds that fell on the pathway, some words have no effect on us.
The seeds that are planted by the sower might need some tending but the production of the fruit is an act of God as it is not under the control of any farmer. Similarly in our ministries, we plant the seed as per God’s leading and don’t even have to do that part on our own. The faith grows in the person through their experiences with God as they come closer to Him, who keeps performing wondrous works in their lives in the process. We tend to end up taking credit for the transformations that they have gone through with God. Our job is to only put the sickle and tell people about His love. Everything else He has already done and continues to do for them. Dying for their sins, giving them a new life, being a constant provider of both protection and comfort is all being taken care of by God.
- What do the different types of grounds mean to us?
- Can we be different types of grounds throughout our lives?
- If God does everything Himself, what does he expect from us?