And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”Mark 4:10, 13-20, 26-29 ESV
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. I Corinthians 3:7-9 ESV
Seeds are small, sometimes very tiny, dry things that look dead, but there is the potential for the life of a new plant or tree in a seed. Many seeds come with an outer layer called a seed coat, which protects and gives food to the life inside the seed. A seed stays dormant, or sleeping, until it gets the right conditions–water, light, and a warm enough temperature. When this happens, a seed begins to grow. Roots push down into the soil to bring water and nutrients to the seed, and a shoot sprouts upward toward the sun. What happens to a seed seems almost magical, but it is all the plan of God. He is the one who creates seeds and gives them the ability to grow.
Jesus explained his story about the farmer who planted seeds and left them to grow. A farmer can’t make seeds grow. Only God can do that. All the farmer can do is plant his seeds in the field. Jesus said that the seeds in his story are a picture of God’s word. God’s word isn’t just another book, but instead God’s word brings new life. God the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to give the gift of faith to people. We can spread God’s word, but it’s God that makes it grow in people’s hearts. Jesus said that people are like different kinds of soil. Some soil is good and some isn’t good. People with hearts that are hard and won’t hear God’s word are like the hard path. There is no chance for the word to take root before Satan takes the seed away the same way that birds eat seeds that fall on the ground. People who have stony hearts believe God’s word until trouble comes, but then they give up easily because his word never takes root deep in their hearts. People whose hearts are full of thorny weeds are so worried about things in this life that they don’t let God’s word grow strong.
This story of Jesus seems a little bit scary. How can we be good soil so that God’s word will take root and grow and not get taken away or shrivel in the hot sun or get choked with weeds? We want to keep hearing and learning and studying God’s word so that the Holy Spirit can help us grow. But just as it is God who makes the seed grow, he also is the one who makes our hearts good soil for him. We don’t have to put our trust in our efforts to grow and have good hearts. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, and he forgives us for the times we are stony or weedy or hard. He sends us his Holy Spirit through his Word so that our hearts are softened and we grow strong and healthy in him.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your word of life to us. Please help us to grow and be strong for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.