- On the hard and compacted soil of the wayside, where the birds come along and gobble it up.
- On the rocky places, where it may germinate but, because there’s nowhere for the roots to go, the resulting seedlings are scorched and wither away.
- Among the thorns, so that any plants that may arise are choked out.
- On good soil, where it yields a tremendous crop.
As you probably know, in each case, the seed represents the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the soil represents the hearts of those to whom it is offered.
I have found this parable to be of great comfort (and phenomenal accuracy!) as I try to share the gospel with the diverse people in my life:
- Those whose hearts are hard seem to barely hear as the devil swoops in to devour the good news. They may not respond at all, or they may respond with scoffing, as the apostle Peter warned in 2 Peter 3.
- Those with rocky hearts receive the gospel with apparent joy, but fall away when they’re subjected to any sort of affliction or persecution – including, no doubt, the mocking of friends and family.
- Those whose hearts dwell in thorny places receive the gospel but soon allow the cares and deceits of the world to overwhelm it and choke it out of their thinking.
Sadly, the ones whose hearts represent good soil – whether it was pure loam to begin with or was turned into suitable ground through hardship, fear or sorrow – are few and far between, at least in my experience.
It’s the latter possibility that has become my constant prayer for the lost: Lord, please do whatever it takes to soften the hearts of these people, to transform their hearts into good soil so that the gospel can flourish, bearing fruit for Your glory and Your kingdom.
Only He knows their hearts well enough to understand, and permit or deliver, precisely the right remedy; but we can rest assured that it probably won’t be what the world considers “good,” since all the blessings He has lavished on these people over their lifetimes have not prepared them to embrace the gospel. We just need to be there, ready to plant and nurture the seeds in the newly tillable soil of their hearts, so that they, too, may have eternal life.