"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
It's spring and the earth is about to come alive with a vibrancy, a lushness of life. And what about you, my friend? What will your life yield in the days ahead — unusual days for our nation; days of testing, days of trial? Will others see the evidence of Christ within you, the fruit of the Spirit, the righteousness of faith, and will they be drawn to the One who sowed His Word in the soil of your heart?
Do you remember Jesus' word to the multitudes the day He sat down in a boat pushed from the shore so the crowd could listen to His parables (Mark 4, Matthew 13) — a word that, when understood, brings a blessing to those who truly see and truly hear what Jesus was saying? Was it in the spring, the season for sowing, when farmers were scattering seed in anticipation of a bountiful harvest in the summer?
Jesus likened Himself to them when He explained the parable to His disciples: "The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man." (Matthew 13:37) The seed, He tells us, is the Word of God, and the soil? Well, it describes the condition of the hearts of those on which the seed, the Word, falls.
The parable not only gave His listeners cause to examine their hearts and what they did with what they learned; it also explained to them why so many who heard the same truths responded so differently.
The first soil, Jesus tells us, is "beside the road where the word is sown, and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them." (Mark 4:14-15) These people are totally oblivious to the things of God. They could care less! Surely you have met people whose hearts are hardened to truth.
There's quite a difference between them and those represented by the "second" kind of soil, where seed "was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy." Because they never put down "roots," their experience is temporary, for "when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away."(Mark 4:16-17)
You've met them. Once excited about the Lord and involved in all sorts of activity, their roots never got a solid grip in the ground of Truth. Really, there was no deep abiding interest, no consequent discipline in learning God's Word; so when the test came, they couldn't handle it. It was too unreasonable for God to allow such a thing! They wilted, withered. The test of the genuineness of their faith found it counterfeit.
In writing about the revivals that came during the time of the Great Awakening in America under the fervent preaching of George Whitfield, Jonathan Edward's concern was that the emotions stirred up would not last. Edwards, who delivered his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" in 1741, wrote, "Religion that arises only from superficial impressions is wont to wither away...when it comes to be tried by...difficulties."1
Faith is not faith until it's tested! Has your faith been proven, my friend? You'll know because a harvest of righteousness follows. Remember, righteousness is conformity to God's standard and it comes by faith. And faith comes from hearing-receiving God's Word.
And what did Jesus, the Sower, want to show us in the third soil "on whom seed was sown among the thorns"? That there are those who will hear the Word, probably sit under it weekly, but thorns, the "worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things...[will] choke the word." Our culture and our lifestyles are overrun with thorns!
How many do you know who have no time for the Word of God? Are they too busy? They may profess Christ and even go to church, but that's about it. They are totally preoccupied with the temporal, the things of this world, worried about their future. They may be nice people but there's no fruit, no harvest of Christlikeness. Is this you?
I pray not, because if it is, you have a religion without a relationship with the Sower. Fruit is the evidence of salvation. Good soil bears fruit; it may be thirty-fold, sixty-fold, or a hundred-fold, but there will always be fruit to one degree or another. One hundred seeds of truth may be sown and only thirty bear fruit — but there is always fruit.
As we watch life come to bloom this spring, our passion should be one hundred percent response to all our Father has said. Just think of the harvest and of the joy it would bring to the Lord of the harvest, and to us! The testimony to principalities and rulers of wickedness in high places! The example to a wounded and dying world, people who desperately need to witness untainted righteousness — the righteousness of Christ in you!
1Christian History Magazine, Issue 77, p.19).