The Jewish people in the first century were an agrarian society. They understood the importance of sowing at an appointed time and then reaping a later stage.
Yeshua (Hebrew name for Jesus) lived an ordinary and authentic Jewish life. He was very familiar with the struggles of the day could therefore use parables as an effective way to convey His message. Once He was asked by His disciples why He uses this method, He explained by making reference to the prophecy of Isaiah which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed.
Now imagine for a moment that you are living in the first century in Galilee region. One day on your way to attend to a business matter, you notice a crowd of people and hear someone speaking. You can tell that is it Someone from Galilee, you recognize the accent. You are in a hurry but curiosity gets the better of you. You push through the crowd and when you eventually get a visual you see that it is Yeshua, the son of Joseph the carpenter. You think to yourself: ‘What on earth is He doing?’ You tune in, curious to hear what would make so many people interested. You listen for a while and then continue with your journey. Only problem is, you cannot get your mind off the things He spoke about…What would your response have been to His message?
See my firm belief is that our response today and back then would have been the same. Perhaps the details of the response will differ but the net result would have been the same.
Messiah once told the parable of a sower to address this very matter. The parable outlined the four ways in which we would have responded. It tells the story of a man who goes out to do his work like any other day. As he does this, the sower hopes that all the seed will fall in good areas where it will grow and produce a plentiful harvest. However, this is not the case as the seed end up falling in four different types of soil.
The seed, He later explains is the word of God or the message of the Kingdom. The soil represents the hearts of the hearers. The condition of the soil or heart determines the harvest or lack thereof.
The wayside soil is the heart that hears the Word but ‘do not understand, see but do not perceive. Their hearts have grown dull.’ We are told that the birds of the air devoured these seeds. Messiah explains that the birds of the air are the devil that comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
The rocky soil is the heart that actually receives the word with joy. However, as these have no roots, they believe for a while but when temptation or trials come, they choose the easy way out.
The thorny soil are those hearts that when they have heard, go out and become choked with cares, desires for other things, deceitfulness of riches and pleasures of life.
The rich and good soil is the heart that hears the Word, understands it and produces the harvest. We see that some produce 30x, 60x and others even 100x!
Is it not concerning that only one of the four soil types actually produces a harvest?