Read: Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23
This summer, we potted herbs outside of our door, hoping to avoid our perennial bad luck with growing things. One month in, we had varying success. Our basil and mint were full and bushy, but our dill was withering. We realized too late that dill prefers sandier, aerated soil as opposed to the rich potting soil that our basil and mint loved. The soil was the key.
The Parable of the Sower is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables, but it could be more aptly named “The Parable of the Soils” due to its focus on where the seed lands.
Within this parable we find a distinctly Galilean understanding of agriculture. Large quantities of black basalt are to this day scattered throughout Galilee. Migratory birds frequent the region during mild weather, and hot seasons can produce drought and crop failure. As Jesus recounted each type of soil, His listeners would have been intimately familiar with the imagery. The disciples, however, needed help decoding the parable.
The farmer is not identified (not all details have meaning), but the seed is the Word of God. Each of the soils is revealed as a certain reaction to the Word ‒ those who are “ever hearing but never understanding” (Isaiah 6:9), those who are too shallow to put down roots, those who are hampered from any harvest by “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” (v. 22), and those who both hear and understand, and produce a fruitful life. Notably, the seed is the same in every type of soil. The Word of God, likewise, is living and active, but not every person who hears it will be. Without the right heart-soil, something Christ provides but we can cultivate, even the Word will not produce fruit in someone’s life.
Reflect: The Word of God always receives a response, whether disregarded or accepted by degrees. What types of responses have you seen to the Word of God? Are any of these characterizing your response? What type of soil are you? Pray for the soil in yourself, your family, and your friends’ lives, that they would understand and accept God’s Word.