Good Seed – Good Ground

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Mark

Mark 14:1-20, “Good Seed – Good Ground”

My mother is a master gardener. She’s one of those gifted people who can put a dead, dry stick in the ground, give it a bit of water, and watch it blossom into a thriving plant again. I (on the other hand) can stick a plastic plant in the ground, and still watch it die. 🙂 Those who can farm and garden understand well about good soil. The right kind of soil can make for a fruitful crop; the wrong kind of soil makes for a dustbowl.

It’s an easy analogy for people to relate to…especially for people who live in an agrarian culture, as those to whom Jesus was speaking. God does miraculous things with good soil. People are not merely fruitful – they are abundantly fruitful…amazingly so. When God brings forth a harvest in someone’s life, it is truly supernatural…and God gets all of the credit.

For those of you who were here last week, this all ought to sound pretty familiar. In fact you might be asking: “Pastor Bill did a phenomenal job of teaching this. Why go over it again?” Pastor Bill DID to a phenomenal job! (If you missed last week, be sure to watch the youtube!) As we look at the passage again this week, it’s not to replace a single thing Bill taught…it’s to emphasize the truth of God’s word. As we’re going to see in the passage (and as we’ve already read), Jesus tells us that this parable is the key to all of the other parables. IOW, if we miss THIS teaching of Jesus, we’re going to be lost on everything else He teaches. So this is something we need to get. We need to be SURE we understand this, because we don’t want to miss out on a single thing that Jesus has to teach us.

Mark 4:1–20
1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.

Although we’re not told by Mark exactly when this took place in Jesus’ ministry, remember that this is the very scenario that Jesus has planned for earlier on. [Mark 3:9] Jesus’ preparations came in handy! Apparently there was a huge crowd that had come out to see Jesus, and He was able to teach them from the boat while they remained upon land.

Multitudes had been coming to Jesus for quite a while, and it’s not difficult to understand why. He had been teaching with authority, even beyond the scribes and the Pharisees. He had been healing all kinds of afflictions, even to the point of bringing people from the “walking death” of leprosy. He had even demonstrated utter authority over the demons, who were obligated to leave at His command. It was this last area of spiritual authority that got Jesus in the latest hot water with the religious authorities. They were so opposed to the person of Jesus that they went so far as to accuse His work (which was obviously Godly) to the power of the devil. They were in essence equating the Holy Spirit with Satan, and in danger of committing the one sin from which they could never be forgiven: the ultimate blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Their hearts were incredibly hardened to Jesus, and they were in danger of crossing a line from which there was no return. The fact that Jesus did not back down from this kind of accusation, but rather turned it back around upon the scribes and Pharisees would have undoubtedly had an impact on the crowds who witnessed it, and Jesus’ reputation continued to grow. Now it’s to the point that Jesus needs crowd control. J

Question: did all of the people in the multitude have faith? No. In fact, that’s the point of the parable that Jesus is about to teach. Many in the crowd would fall away & some would likely even turn their backs on Jesus completely later on in His ministry. However, that didn’t stop Jesus from teaching them. He continued to give them the word of God.

The gospel needs to go out to all the world! No matter what we think the response might be from those around us, just keep spreading the good news. (And that’s one of the issues that is addressed in the parable of the soils!)

2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:

Mark doesn’t record too many “parables” of Jesus for us, but he does record a few (mainly in Ch. 4). But we need to remember that Biblical accounts are not second-for-second transcripts of every single detail that occurred in Jesus’ daily life. We only get a snap-shot of events & teachings. There were “many things” that were taught by Jesus, even if we only have the details of a very few.

Question: does the fact that we only have a few of Jesus’ teachings mean that we’re missing anything? No. Certainly we’re grateful for all the teachings that we DO have, but we can be sure that God did not leave anything out that we need to know. Remember that the Bible is inspired by God the Holy Spirit – this is a supernaturally given Book. Every word that is in it is profitable to us, and we can know that God wouldn’t have left anything out that was essential for us to know in order to come to faith. We can trust every word in the Bible…BUT we need to hold every word as precious! The fact it was given to us by God means that God meant every word to us. Out of all of the things that could be shared in the Bible, the Holy Spirit specifically chose these things. So pay attention! See it for what it is!

Before we get too far, we need to review what a “parable” actually is. It is a specific type of teaching that Jesus used a lot (though it’s not unique to Jesus), and it’s unlike other kinds of instruction like lectures or other stories. The word literally refers to something thrown alongside/set beside something else, which implies that there’s some symbolism involved. There’s a deeper meaning that what might casually be on the surface – it’s “thrown alongside” the surface level. Obviously the parable of the soils is not really an illustration to instruct someone on proper farming…Jesus has something else in mind. It’s a parable, and we need to look for that deeper meaning that is set right alongside the plain teaching. That said, we need to be careful about looking TOO deeply at a parable & turning it into something that it’s not. A parable is NOT an allegory, in which every single element has a double-meaning, and we can’t ever really be sure what Jesus is talking about. The problem with allegories is that everyone can come up with a different interpretation. If nothing is truly as it seems, then there’s no foundation from which to base any authoritative interpretation. It’s best to think of a parable as an illustration with a point. When Jesus teaches in parables, He’s usually driving home a simple point (sometimes more than one) about Himself or the kingdom. The illustration just serves as the vehicle for the teaching – we’re really just looking for the main idea.

If it seems like there is a bit of mystery in a parable, that’s because there is. But Jesus has a purpose in this, which He explains later on.

Out of all the “many things” Jesus taught in parables, we’re given a few…specifically, we’re given this one to start out with. Look at vs. 3…

3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.

The first thing to notice is that Jesus calls for our complete attention. “Listen! Behold…” Typically, we might ask someone to listen, or we might ask someone to look – but we don’t usually combine both unless there’s something to emphasize. Jesus is emphasizing the importance of what He’s about to tell them. This ought to tell us right off the bat that Jesus isn’t giving a simple lesson on farming. What He is about to say has the utmost importance, and He calls everyone listening to Him to pay very careful attention.

Are we listening to what God is saying to us? Even right now. God may be saying something to your heart right now, and you might be ignoring it – pushing it off – not wanting to pay attention to the word of God. Listen up! Behold! Cue in on what God is saying to you today…you don’t want to miss it!

Jesus tells of a farmer (NIV) – but the word is more properly “sower,” speaking of someone who scatters or disperses (usually seed). This isn’t careful planting as we might see today, with heirloom seeds being carefully placed into ground that has been tilled & prepared. This is a sower reaching into his bag, taking a handful of seeds, and casting it upon the ground. Is it careless? Not in Jesus’ telling…there is a purpose to it.

4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.

The seed that was cast fell on four types of earth/soil. The first is the “wayside.” Imagine a field by the edge of a road or trodden-down dirt path. It was the path on which the seed fell. In the plain open with no place to take root, the seed was open season for the birds to come and eat. Back in my many attempts to get grass to grow in my yard, I experienced this first hand. I threw grass seed upon the ground, which was rock-hard, and didn’t think to throw any soil on top of it. What happened? The birds and squirrels had a feast… The seed was stolen.

5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.

The second kind of earth was the “stony ground.” Here, the problem wasn’t that the ground was too hard, but there just wasn’t enough of it. Little rocks were mixed in among the dirt, and although the seed was able to sprout upwards, it wasn’t able to put out much downwards. It had no foundation nor any source of nutrition when the sun came out, and it couldn’t survive.

7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

The third ground was full of weeds – and not any of the nicer kind. These were “thorns,” and apparently they were plentiful. The good seed seemed to have grown a bit, but the thorns ended up getting all of the nutrition & water, and “choked” out the good seed. There may have been a semblance of a plant, but there wasn’t any fruit to show for it.

8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

The fourth ground was “good ground.” We’re not told anything about the preparation of tilling or fertilizing or anything else…in the simple parable, it’s simply “good ground.” When the seed was cast here, it took off! Culturally, a harvest of 10-1 was considered a bumper crop. Any farmer would have been absolutely delighted to receive 10-1. The numbers Jesus gives would have astounded any farmer who was listening: 30-1, 60-1, 100-1! This was no ordinary crop…this was the abundant blessing of God poured out!

9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

This would seem to be a curious statement at the end of His parable. After all, what Jesus said would have seemed to be fairly straightforward. It’s not as if the farmers who were standing on the shoreline needed a lot of explanation. They had sown seed – they had done battle with the birds, with the sun, and with the weeds…and they were in the business of harvesting crops. Surely they understood the imagery just fine. But did they understand the meaning? Remember, this is a parable; not a simple teaching illustration. Jesus isn’t giving a lesson on agriculture…He’s telling them something about the kingdom of God. Did they have the “ears to hear” what Jesus was really saying? Could they hear the spiritual message that was “cast alongside” (“parable”) the story?

If they could hear it (and apparently not all could), they needed to hear it. Jesus had called them all to pay close attention at the beginning of the parable, and now He emphasizes it again. This is something they needed to consider, and not merely have go in one ear & out the other. 

If you CAN hear, then HEAR! If you can hear what God the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, then again, you need to listen up. The more someone hardens himself or herself to the soft still voice of God, the less likely it is they will hear God’s voice in the future. The more someone ignores the word of God, the easier it becomes. You don’t want to miss out on your opportunity while the Lord is speaking to you!

10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.

At this point, the scene changes. We can assume that Jesus said far more to the people on the shoreline that day than just this one parable. After all, it takes less than a minute to read & there was a whole multitude there gathered to hear His teaching, and He taught them “many things by parables” (vs. 2). Presumably everyone stayed & listened, and as the people departed over the course of the day, finally Jesus was left “alone” with the 12 apostles and other disciples who had been following Him. Out of all of the things that Jesus taught, it was the parable that stuck out to them, so they “asked” Jesus about it (and perhaps about all the parables). Apparently they had been given ears to hear, and they wanted to hear more!

The fact that the disciples asked Jesus about it tells us that they understood that there was more to the teaching than a simple farming illustration. They knew that Jesus had a point to make, and so they did the logical thing & asked Jesus about it. They didn’t have the complete understanding in themselves, but they knew Who did: Jesus. They had their Teacher among them, and they could ask Him for the interpretation.

We do not have the Incarnate Jesus walking next to us, but every single born-again Christian does have the Holy Spirit within us. God has gifted the church with many pastors & teachers, but God the Holy Spirit is our primary teacher, exactly as Jesus said that He would be. (Jn 14:26) Occasionally, we’re going to run across things in the Scripture we don’t understand. It doesn’t matter how long you study the Bible or how many degrees you might have, there are always going to be some things that occasionally blow your mind! When we run across things we don’t understand in the Scripture, we can go to the Author of the Scripture and ask. Never forget that God the Holy Spirit is alive. He has an active ministry in the life of every believer. We can ask God for illumination – we can ask God for understanding – we can ask God for wisdom in application. Sometimes, God might simply “turn on the lightbulb” for us… Other times, He might take us to other Scriptures that help explain the passage (and the Bible often interprets the Bible). Sometimes, He might take us to another Godly Christian teacher who helps explain the passage… ALL of this is the work of God the Holy Spirit as Teacher. He is more than willing to teach us as His people, but we need to be willing and humble enough to ask.

11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’”

Jesus confirms that the disciples were the ones to did indeed have ears to hear. They were given special privilege that the rest of the multitude were not. Those who had faith in Christ and followed Him were “given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.” Question: Can a kingdom be secret – can it be a mystery? After all, when we travel abroad today, we typically know exactly which country we’re stepping into at any given moment. There are passports, visas, border controls, and all sorts of things. Governments are recognized by other nations, negotiations take place, etc. How can a kingdom be a “mystery”? Easy: when a kingdom isn’t like any other kingdoms. The kingdom of God isn’t like any other kingdom that has ever been known upon the earth. This isn’t a kingdom set up by & ruled by men; this is the kingdom of GOD (so we ought to expect it to be different!). Kingdoms of men come & go, but the kingdom of God is never ending. Kingdoms of men can be overthrown, but the kingdom of God is going to be victorious over all. Kingdoms of men are either there or they are not, but the kingdom of God is both now & not-yet. The kingdom of God exists among those who belong to God right now, and we live as kingdom citizens right now, representing our King to all the world. At the same time, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, and has not yet fully come. There will be a literal future kingdom, in which Jesus will physically reign from Jerusalem, and we will be blessed to be included in His inheritance. … It’s no wonder Jesus referred to it as a “mystery” – and we are blessed to be given the understanding of it!

But not everyone has this understanding. After all, it’s an understanding that must be “given”; it’s not something that someone can take for him/herself. The people who understand have been given ears to hear, and this isn’t something that everyone has. To those who are “outside” the kingdom – to those who do not seek Jesus in faith, “all things come in parables.” All things remain mysterious, and they cannot understand. The things of God are foolishness to them, even though the truth of God might be right in front of their eyes.

Jesus explained the reason for this by quoting from Isaiah. Isaiah 6:9–10, “(9) And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ (10) “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”” [] The prophet Isaiah had received a renewed calling into ministry. He had been given a vision of the Lord that was incredible, as he was transported into the throne room of God. Fully aware of his own sin, Isaiah cried out in woe, and an angel touched his lips with a coal taken from the heavenly altar, and Isaiah was cleansed. God openly asked who He could send as His messenger to the people, and Isaiah fervently volunteered – upon which God warned him of the response of the people: they were always hardhearted & they would continue to be hardhearted. The things Isaiah would speak would be mysterious in the eyes & ears of the people. They would see & hear the truth, but they would not understand it. Contextually for the ancient Jews, God had decreed their judgment that would come in the Babylonian captivity, and although Isaiah would warn them of it, the people would not repent. The Babylonians would come, even as the warnings of God were given in mystery. They were already hardened to the appeals of God – the mysterious prophecies of Isaiah simply confirmed their hardness.

Likewise for the Jews of Jesus’ day. The scribes & Pharisees (and others) had already proven themselves hardened to the teaching of the kingdom of God – the fact that they were not given understanding through the parables was God’s way of confirming their own hardness. And all of that brings up a good point. Not everyone has ears to hear – God has given ears & understanding to some, but not all. WHY? Doesn’t God want everyone to be saved? Yes! Scripture confirms that repeatedly! God commands that all people everywhere repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 17:30). God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16). YES, God wants all people to be saved! But people won’t be saved by the wisdom and pride of man. Nobody is saved when they remain proud & hardhearted towards God. We need to admit our helplessness and our need to be given understanding by God if we want to be saved. God resists the proud, but He lovingly gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:6). … And that’s the reason for the parables. Parables conceal the truth from unbelievers, and they force us to go to Christ Jesus in humility for the interpretation. When God says to Isaiah “lest they should turn and their sins be forgiven,” this is not the hardness of God…it is His grace. We cannot be saved through formulaic efforts or human logic, so God doesn’t even leave open the possibility to us. We are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and God makes it such that we HAVE to seek out Jesus if we are even going to understand anything about the kingdom at all.

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

This particular parable of Jesus is key. If we miss this, we’re going to miss the understanding on all of the parables. Again, we are not given all of the transcripts of all of the parables that Jesus taught. We’re not even given all of the interpretations of the parable directly from Jesus (though we do get a few). But this is an interpretation we DO receive. In all three gospel accounts that includes the parable of the soils, the interpretation is clearly given by Jesus. This is something that He WANTS His people to understand. If we miss out on this, then we not only miss out on His teaching overall, but we might be missing out on the kingdom itself. After all, how can we know we are included among the kingdom if we don’t understand what work of the kingdom looks like in a person’s life?

14 The sower sows the word.

If the parable of the soils is the key to all of the parables, then this explanation about the seed is the key to the key. J Don’t miss this! “The sower sows the word.” We might first ask the identity of the sower, but Jesus actually doesn’t address that at all. For Jesus, the focus is upon the seed, which He identifies as “the word.” Matthew records “the word of the kingdom,” – Luke records “the word of God.” It is the WORD! Contextually to Jesus’ parable, it’s seems to specifically be the gospel, but it is most definitely the Word – the Scripture – the news, teaching, and revelation of Jesus Christ. OT & NT, all of it is about Jesus, and the word goes forth into all the world.

Now we start to understand the reason behind the seeming carelessness of the sower. It wasn’t that he was wasting seed; it’s that he was casting out the word out to every possible area. Not every heart was going to receive what was given, but that didn’t stop the sower from giving it. Every single heart was given the same seed – the same word – the same gospel message – the same opportunity to hear about Jesus. There was some ground that would plainly not receive it, but the sower loved them enough to give them the same opportunity as everyone else.

Some would claim vehemently that the sower is none other than Jesus – but the fact that the seed is the “word” would seem to broaden this a bit. Yes, Jesus does definitely sow the word (in fact, He was engaged in the process of sowing the word when He taught the parable!) – but everyone who takes the word of God to the world or shares the gospel of salvation with another is someone who is sowing the seed. It’s not just Jesus; it’s those who go in Jesus’ name that also sow the seed.

With whom have you cast the seed lately? You have an opportunity TODAY to do it. Take invitation cards for Harvest America this afternoon, and go to the parks or the mall or the restaurants, and sow seed! Invite them to come hear the good news! And it doesn’t stop with today…every time you share the word of the gospel with someone, you are sowing seed. You are participating in the same work that Jesus did…that is the privilege of the Great Commission.

That’s the sower – what about the soils? See vs. 15…

15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

The “wayside” = the word is stolen. In the parable, the birds came and picked off the seed that was lying on the hardened pathway. In the explanation, it’s Satan who comes and steals away the seed that is lying on a hardened heart. We need to understand that there is a spiritual reality – there is a spiritual war that is taking place all around us, though our eyes only see the effects of it. Jesus is reconciling mankind back to God & restoring the Creation that is fallen away, and Satan is doing everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy the things that are beloved to God. In the grand scheme of things, there is no contest between God & the devil – God is God & the devil is not. The devil is a loser and a liar, and will be cast into the lake of fire. But the devil is a sore loser, and he wants to take as many people as possible with him into that place of torment. When the seed of the word is sown, the devil desires to steal that away as quickly as possible (“immediately”) – and he most easily does so with a heart that is already hardened to God. Those who have repeatedly rejected Jesus in the past find it easy to ignore the preaching of the gospel, simply because they’ve always done so. It’s just as if Satan is sitting right next to them in the pew & stealing away every bit of the gospel as it comes to them.

It doesn’t take long for the word to be stolen from someone. And this goes back to the idea of listening to what Jesus has to say. If you know God is speaking to you, you need to respond! Satan is skilled at stealing the gospel away from someone – and he can do it from between the time the preacher says “Amen” to the moment someone walks to the back door of the sanctuary. When Jesus is calling you to respond, you need to respond! (You’re going to have the opportunity to respond in a few moments…be listening to the voice of Jesus right now!)

16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.

The “stony ground” = the word is stumbled. We might even say that the word is “scandalized,” as that’s the English word that comes from the Greek for “stumble.” In the parable, this seed sprouted quickly, but was rootless because of all the rocks in the ground. The sun came up & it was all burned/scorched. Those with stony ground hearts might have good intentions – after all, they receive the word “with gladness” – but they’ve got no root or foundation. Any change that comes for them is strictly temporary. They may not be literally burned up by the sun, but they are scandalized by the trials that come on account of the word. They are not prepared to bear any shame for the name of Jesus, so they stumble in their faith & wither.

To the contrary of what many TV preachers proclaim today, never once does Jesus promise that Christianity will be easy. Someone who puts his/her faith in Christ does not live on “Easy Street”; they walk the “Rio Dolorosa” with our Lord Jesus. There is suffering that comes on account of the word. There is “tribulation & persecution” that “arises for the word’s sake.” This is something that Jesus wants us to be prepared for – He specifically tells people to count the cost. (Lk 14:28)

Keep in mind, it’s not that Jesus is trying to talk anyone out of following Him – after all, He wants everyone to be saved! He’s just being realistic. Trials WILL come, and without root, we WILL stumble. There are many people who make an emotional decision for Christ who never once put any thought into actually following Jesus as Lord. They were moved by the events or the circumstances – or they were following what everyone else was doing in the crowd, and they weren’t really seeking Jesus as a Savior…they were seeking a buddy or a butler or a magic-genie. So when the trials came, of course they abandoned all pretense of faith – they didn’t have any real root to begin with.

Jesus wants you to be saved, and He wants you to KNOW that you are saved. It’s not about an emotional decision; it’s about a response to the grace of Christ & a conscious commitment to give your life to Him.

18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

The “thorns” = the word is suffocated. In the third ground, there were thorny weeds that choked out the good seed…there was too much competition for the seed to do what it was meant to do. After all, farmers don’t plant apple orchards so that they would have pretty trees on their lot…they want to harvest apples! Seed is meant to produce, but this seed couldn’t produce because of all of the competition from the thorns that suffocated it. Jesus says that these people heard the word, and by all indications, they would have received the word. There was root, there was sprout…but there was no fruit. Why? The word got choked out. These people had a response to the gospel, but there were too many other things that were there. 

Jesus gives broad categories here: (1) the cares/distractions of the world/age, (2) the deceit of wealth, (3) the desires for all the rest. If the world of the Roman empire provided too many distractions for the ancient Jews, just think about the distractions we have today! The age in which we live seems custom-tailored to take our attention away from the word of God, and to choke out the message of the gospel. And that’s what happens for many who would otherwise respond to Christ. They hear the word, and they respond…but then life gets in the way. There’s always an excuse why they can’t worship with other believers in church – there’s always some excuse why they won’t read their Bible – there’s always something that gets in the way. Or they buy into the lie of riches. Over time, Jesus isn’t enough to satisfy – He’s not enough to provide…they’ve got to trust in their 401K or stock portfolio. Pretty soon, money is their idol, and Jesus gets what’s left-over (if anything). Or it’s just the desire for more stuff. It’s another car (a newer one!) or another gadget (but it’s the latest version!) or more stuff to fill a house (and fill a credit card). Pretty soon, they don’t think about Jesus any more. They had a nice prayer with Him at one time, and they would sure claim to be Christian, but there’s not much in their life that would demonstrate it. Any fruit that the word of God would have produced has been suffocated out.

This is one of the hardest soils (IMO) to analyze. Is this person saved, or not? After all, there’s a plant that sprouted – it’s just that there isn’t any fruit. If we’re asking this question, we might be asking the wrong question. Jesus clearly lumps it in with the failed soils…there’s only one “good ground,” and this isn’t it. When the seed is cast, Jesus desires there to be fruit, and if the Holy Spirit is working in someone’s life, then there WILL be fruit (Gal 5:22-23). When there’s fruitlessness, there is a problem – and it’s something that needs to be addressed.

The good news about weeds & thorns? They can be removed. If you’re wondering about your own salvation due to the amount of weeds & distractions in your life – if you’re coming under conviction about fruitlessness, then you can ask Jesus to deal with the ground of your heart. It may be a 1st time salvation, or it may be a renewed dedication, but it’s something you need to go to Jesus about today.

20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

The “good ground” = the word saves. Three out of the four grounds were bad, but this one was good. And it isn’t just barely good…it’s super-abundant good! When this seed sprouted, it took off amazingly well. God brought forth a miraculous harvest in this person’s life – abundance of 30-fold, 60-fold, and even 100-fold. When the word of the gospel goes into a person’s heart – when it’s truly received in faith, then when the fruit comes, it comes in amazing abundance. The person is supernaturally transformed by the living God – he/she becomes a new creation with the power of the Holy Spirit coming out of them. The old sins we used to love, we begin to hate. The old habits to which we were enslaved, we are now free. Things like compassion and forgiveness and grace come pouring out to people that we never thought we could ever love. And best of all is when we get to introduce other people to the same Lord and Savior Who changed us, and then we see the fruit begin to develop in their lives as well! That’s an amazing transformation, and this is what Jesus desires for His people!

God desires fruitfulness! And He’s the One that brings it forth. Think about it: the fruitfulness is not about the work of the soil. The soil received the seed, but it can’t do anything except receive the seed given it by the sower. It’s about the work of the seed within the soil. What was the seed? The WORD. How does a Christian experience abundant fruitfulness? By getting the word of God in our heart, and continually seeking the work of God in our lives through what He’s said. God will use His word to keep us from sin (Ps 119:11) – God will use His word to sanctify us/set us apart for Himself (Jn 17:17) – God will use His word to discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12) – God will use His word to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct (2 Tim 3:16). GOD is the One who does all of these things in our lives…and He does them through His word. Want fruit? Get the Word. Stay grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Memorize Scripture. Read the Bible daily. Think & meditate upon the word of God, praying through the Scriptures. God will produce abundant fruit in your life when you continually receive His word!

God help us be fruitful! Most of us have seen a bit of fruit, for which we can be truly thankful – but God help us experience the abundant fruit that Jesus spoke of! Why be satisfied with a life of 3-fold fruit when Jesus spoke of the possibility of 30-60-100? Sure, we may have seen a bit of transformation in our personal life, but what Jesus spoke of is a transformation that can affect everyone around us. How could 100-fold fruit be any less? Get into the Word! Seek God for fruit in abundance!

Conclusion:
This is no ordinary seed & this is no ordinary soil. When the right seed fell upon the right ground, God did miraculous work! Jesus spoke of the seed of the word of God – and when it fell upon hearts that humbly sought Him in faith, that seed could produce incredible fruit!

In all of this, notice that what Jesus taught in the parable, He actually demonstrated. In vss. 1-2, Jesus was sowing the word among the people. In vss. 3-9, we see a specific instance of Jesus sowing, and He’s actually telling the people what is going on in their hearts at the time – telling them of the different soils of their hearts as they actively heard what Jesus was teaching. In vss. 10-12, Jesus tells the disciples why He sowed the word the way He did, and in the process confirmed that they were the ones with the humility of heart that God desired in His people. And in vss. 13-20, Jesus explained the teaching, revealing this particular mystery of the kingdom to those who obviously had hearts of good soil. They were the ones who had been given ears to hear, and so they heard.

That was them – what about us? What kind of soil is our heart made of? Understand that it is the soil that is the only thing different in each scenario. The sower is the same, and the seed is the same. The word of God is going forth, either proclaimed directly by the Lord Jesus Christ, or in His name. The word of His gospel is spread out to all the world…everyone has the same opportunity to hear the same good news of how they might be saved by the grace of Jesus. Yet there are vastly different responses.

Some people don’t even get out of their chair before Satan comes and snatches the word away…the word is stolen.

Some have an emotional response, but no real faith and what they do have is abandoned at the first trial…the word is stumbled.

Some have a seemingly real response, but demonstrate no change. Their hearts are dedicated to other things & not to the Lord…the word is suffocated.

But there are others who experience the miraculous! They hear the word of God, welcome the word of God, and are changed by the word of God. For them, the word saves! God brings forth a supernatural harvest in their lives as not only are they themselves transformed, but they have an impact on others around them. That’s good ground, and it is truly impacted by the good gospel of Jesus Christ.

Each of the soils had a response…though only one was desirable. What will be your response today? To the crowd, Jesus had already revealed Himself to be the Son of God with power over the devil and sin. That was the point of His many miracles. Today, we look to the cross and resurrection & can know clearly that Jesus is God in the flesh. When He died for us, He took the punishment we had earned because of our sin, and when He rose from the grave He demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that death had been conquered, and He is the one with power over the grave. Jesus offers life and forgiveness to anyone and everyone who would believe upon Him as their Savior and Lord.

That’s the seed…and it’s been cast. Right now, you alone know what God the Holy Spirit is saying to your heart. Maybe you’re aware of the battle that’s going on right now with the devil as he attempts to steal it away. Maybe you’ve experienced trials in the past and have gotten burned by people in the church. Maybe you’ve claimed Jesus in the past, but your life has been listless & fruitless. If you’ve got ears to hear, then HEAR. Hear what God is saying to you, and respond in truth to the gospel of Jesus! Surrender your life to Christ today, and seek Him for the fruitfulness that He desires to bring forth. You can be truly transformed by the gospel, but you must trust Jesus.

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