Parable of the Soils
PARABLE OF THE FOUR SOILS – Mark 4: 13-23.
I would like for you to notice verse 1 again.
- In verse 1 Jesus begins to teach and as He does, “a very great multitude of people gather” around Him.
- And because they do, He gets in a boat on the sea and He begins to teach while all the people are on the shore.
And look at the first word of verse 3…and notice the exclamation mark…
- The first thing that Jesus says here is “Listen!”
- The KJV says, “Hearken!”
- In other words, Jesus says, “Give audience to me!
And now, notice also verse 9… the last thing that He has to say in this parable is, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- Do you get the impression that Jesus wants us to hear what He has to say here in this parable?
This parable is intended not only for these people that He is speaking to, to evaluate themselves, but for us to evaluate ourselves too.
- It is intended for us to look at the man in the mirror…and ultimately decide what kind of “soil” we each one are…or what kind of “hearers” we are.
- Much of the time we want to blame the failure of people to obey the word of God on the preacher but his parable puts the responsibility on those who hear.
- You can have the most dynamic, influential preacher there is, but if the people refuse to hear what can he do?
- So, this parable is intended for us to each one evaluate ourselves and decide what kind of “soil” or what kind of “hearer” we are.
- And it is imperative that we each be honest with ourselves because to deceive yourself can cause you to be lost forever.
So, let’s look at this parable…and you decide what kind of “soil” or “hearer” you are?
Vs. 3. Jesus says, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;
- When it comes to WHAT is being sown here, or what the “seed” is here, verse 14 clears that up.
- Jesus tells us in verse 14 that what is being sown…or the “seed” is the “the word of God.”
And as far as who the “sower” is, the “sower” isn’t specifically mentioned…but in the context of this passage the “sower” is Jesus.
- And later it will be the apostles…and anyone who teaches the word…including anyone who teaches or preaches the word of God today.
Now, look at verse 4: “…and it came about that as he (the sower) was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.”
Now, look at Jesus’ explanation in verses 15. He explains by saying, “And these are the ones who are 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.
- Notice the phrase, “these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown.”
- Jesus is talking about people…people who “hear” the word…but then “immediately” Satan snatches the word away so that it can have no affect.
And it is significant that Satan does this “immediately.”
- You see, Satan knows the power of the word of God.
- Satan knows “that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
- Satan knows all the joy, and peace, and contentment, and godliness, and hope that the word contains in it.
- He knows the promises and blessings and warnings against sin found in the word.
- He knows all the heartache and disappointment and conflict that this (the word) can prevent…
- And he is intent on destroying you…and so he is going to “immediately” snatch the word away from you if he can.
But what happened that caused the seed to just lay there on the top so that the devil was able to “snatch the word” away? What caused it to just lay there so the “birds” could get to it?
Luke says in Luke 8: 5 that the seed “fell beside the road; and it was trampled under foot, and the birds ate it.”
- The word was beaten down before it ever had a chance to grow.
And in Matthew 13: 19, Matthew says that the word fell beside the road, and those who heard it “didn’t understand it.”
- And that word “understand” could also be translated “consider” which means, they “didn’t even consider it”
- And what this all indicates is, the ones that Jesus is talking about here are those who heard the word but didn’t give the word a chance!
- It was never given an opportunity…maybe because of something someone else had told them…or because of their preconceived ideas.
- Whatever the case, they had hardened themselves against it…and that played right into what Satan wanted.
And that is what a lot of people, perhaps even some here this morning do, we never give the “word” a chance! We never give it a chance to make a difference in our lives.
- I think most of you, like me, know of someone whose life is in a real mess: turmoil in the marriage, problems with kids, difficulties on the job if they even have a job, experiencing financial ruin…and the word of God could change their world completely around.
- The word could improve and save their marriage. And the word could bring peace and harmony to their family. And the word could help them raise their children. And the word could help them on their job and be a blessing to them in their financial struggles…
- And you have tried to talk to them and encourage them…but they won’t even give the word a chance!
- And consequently, their situation doesn’t change…in fact, it only gets worse.
And it may be that there is someone sitting here this morning whose life is a mess…and even though you are here you really haven’t given the word a real chance in your life.
- You may have tried it for a few days, or maybe even for a few weeks…or maybe you have applied bits and pieces of it.
- I will tell you, even bits and pieces of it can make a difference but if you really want to change your life, take a full doze and give it a chance.
It is kind of like this: Some years ago, my doctor put me on some blood pressure medicine. I went back a few weeks later to see him and things weren’t much better. He asked me about it and I told him I was only taking the medicine 2 times a week. He was irritated. He said, “I can’t help you if you won’t take the medicine as prescribed. Two times a week is not enough. Take it every day.” I did and I do and I haven’t had any problems since.
- If you really want to change your life for the good, take a full doze of the word of God and give it a chance.
Let’s look now at where some other “seed” fell.” Mark 4: 5.:“And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil;
- This isn’t talking about ground with a lot of rocks on it.
- This is talking about a place where there is just a little bit of soil on top of a bedrock where a plant could sprout up but could only root itself in the shallow top soil.
- And look what happens; vs. 5.
Mark 4:5-6 “…and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.”
Now, look at the explanation in vs. 16 and 17: “And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.
- This is talking about someone who hears the word and accepts it and they are excited and happy, and so emotional…and they start out with such enthusiasm and eagerness…ready to do what they can…
- But, the first time something happens…some affliction…or persecution…or difficulty arises, they fall away.
- They quit!
- Sometimes it doesn’t even take a hardship.
- Sometimes it is just a matter of it being “inconvenient”, “too much trouble.”
- “Not what I expected!”
And since salvation is not counted to those who endure for a while and quit…but to those who remain “faithful unto death”…these too will be lost forever.
- So the question is, “Are you this kind of hearer or soil?”
- Is your religion superficial…shallow? Is it a Sunday only religion?
- Is it a “hit and miss” religion…here a few times and then gone for several months…and then back again?
- I’m not talking about those who miss because of their jobs…or because of an illness.
- I am talking about those who are sporadic…inconsistent…with no legitimate reason.
Did you respond to and obey the word of God…only to fade and wither away?
- Are you shallow soil?
- If so, remember, salvation is for those who endure.
Now, look at where some other “seed” fell; vs. 7: And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
Now look at the explanation found in verses 18-19. “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
- Isn’t this where most of us are? Be honest.
- We get caught up in the affairs of the world.
- We worry about the kids, the weather, politics, sports, business.
- We get so busy with things and trying to gain possessions to the point that Jesus is just another thing…another activity…one that can easily be denied because there isn’t enough time.
And notice, Jesus mentions the “deceitfulness of riches.”
- We think, “If I only had more money…more wealth…I’d be happy…I’d have it made.”
- The devil has sold us a bill of goods when it comes to riches.
- He says that all of our problems will be solved if we can just get that extra thousand, or ten thousand, or fifty thousand.
- It’s a lie!
- But we give ourselves to it and the result is our desire for riches has choked out the word.
And He mentions a “desire for other things.”
- These “things” are anything that we causes you to push Christ back.
- Entertainment, civic clubs, sports, hobbies…all these activities that the world schedules, in which we must involve ourselves…busy, busy, busy…and it all chokes out the word.
And the sad thing is, these thorns grow up in our hearts so subtly…and we are soon dead before we realize it.
- And the question is: Are you this kind of soil?
- Do you not take time to study, to go to church, to follow Christ, because you are just to busy?
- If so, I hope you will repent because just as material things will perish…so will you.
And then there is a fourth place where the “seed” fell; in vs. 8. And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Now, look at the explanation in verse 20: “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
- This is the good soil and look at what they do.
- They hear the word…and they accept it…they take it in…they let it shape them and change them…and guide them…and they bear fruit.
What kind of fruit will they bear?
- The fruit of winning souls to Christ: Rom. 1: 13.
- The fruit of practical holiness; Rom. 6: 22.
- The fruit of sharing material things; Rom. 15: 27.
- The fruit of the Spirit; Gal. 5: 22-23.
- The fruit of good works; Col. 1: 10.
- The fruit of praise and thanksgiving; Heb. 13: 15.
And what happens to those who bear this kind of fruit?
- Paul says it best in 2 Tim 4: 8: “…in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
So, the question is: What kind of “soil” are you?
- Are you “hard soil” that the word can’t penetrate?
- Are you rocky soil…superficial…no depth…no commitment…easily uprooted?
- Are you crowded soil…so crowded in your life that the word is being choked out?
- Or, are you good soil…that is fertile…and broken…and receptive, committed and deeply rooted?
It is so important for you to be honest because it can be the difference between eternal life and being eternally lost.
If you are not what you need to be you can change…it is not too late.
- Read the word…get yourself into it daily…find out what it is saying…accept it…and don’t quit.
It is kind of funny, Satan doesn’t mind if you want to admire the word. He doesn’t mind if you want to proclaim the word…he doesn’t mind if you want to dissect it, look at it, examine it, and study. Satan doesn’t mind just as long as you don’t plant the word in your heart and allow it to grow.
And one of Satan’s most cherished victories is for someone to have received the word and allow it to grow…and live for years trusting in the word…and then at the end quit.
- Don’t quit.
- And weed your heart. Get rid of some of the thorns. Don’t allow anything to crowd the word out of your heart.
What kind of soil are you? If you are not the kind of soil that you should be…will you start today…and make the change?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023