I know that we looked at this yesterday, but there was so much extra side material that we never actually got to the parable. Like I mentioned before, this story is important enough to the Savior that he took the time to actually explain the deeper meaning here. something he very rarely did. And I don't know if you noticed it, but Matthew, Mark and Luke (under the inspiration of the Spirit) all thought this story important enough to include in all three Gospels. You can read the passage itself, so I won’t summarize it again. Here are some applications which I immediately see here:
• First, I see this as a warning to half-hearted listeners. The “seed” of the Good News was the same no matter where it fell. The only thing that made a difference was the type of “soil” onto which it fell. If you hear God’s message and don’t respond appropriately, the blame falls on you. On Judgment Day, the Judge will have very little patience with excuses like “But I was raised in a family that was hypocritical about religion,” or “When someone told me about Jesus, they didn’t do it in a way that appealed to ME.” God’s truth is the same—yesterday, today, and always. If you don’t listen, that’s on you.
• Second, this is a case for preparation as much as possible. The “path” soil can be broken up and softened, to some degree at least, by preparing the listener. There are all types of obstacles to accepting the Good News, some natural and some supernatural. The job of the church is to remove unnecessary barriers that people have erected. That’s why I’m in the church I’m in. When it comes to the God’s truth, that’s not negotiable. When it comes to things like preaching styles or musical styles or aesthetics like chair arrangements or a host of other issues, it should be tailored to the intended audience.
• Third, this is a reminder that there are spiritual/supernatural aspects to this. Yes, Jesus believed in the existence of Satan. And when the Good News is presented to a lost person, prayer is the number one weapon in our arsenal against him. I promise you, there’s nothing that gets his attention faster than the prospect of a soul being snatched out of his kingdom. You’ve got to be prepped for opposition.
• Fourth, this brings us back to the trap of easy-believism. Some evangelists are so much caught up into numbers that they accept any person as safe in the Kingdom who walks down an aisle, says a prayer, and gets baptized . There are plenty of people like the “rocky” soil who are caught up in a moment of emotion. They have no real root in the Savior, and when tough times come, they abandon Christ's cause.
• Fifth, this warns us of the danger of distractions. What choked the seed? Worry about life, the deceitfulness of wealth (there’s a sermon right there), and greed for more possessions. Any of these can turn a searching soul away from truly following the Savior.
• Sixth, this is an exhortation for believers to spread the “seed” far and wide. That’s one of the lessons I learned as a salesman: The next person you ask might say “no,” but he definitely won’t say “yes” unless you ask him. Or to put it in hockey terms (my favorite sport), you won’t make every shot at the goal, but you’ll miss every shot that you don’t take. The further you broadcast the Message, the more response you’ll get.
• Seventh, this is an encouragement for Christians, especially evangelists and other ministers who've tried to reach as many people as possible. It’s tough, I know. But if you get only 25% of those whom you reach, then that’s normal according to this parable. You’re not going to lead every lost soul to Christ. But when you actually see things work the way they’re supposed to work, what a blessing it is! It’s much more than a 100% return on your investment. Sometimes you’ll see a “thirty-fold” return, and sometimes you’ll see a “hundred-fold” return. But if you keep in step with the Spirit and do things under his guidance, you’ll eventually see a harvest. And you’ll be able to say at the end of it all “It was worth it. Every drop of blood, every moment of my time, all the ‘no’s’ I heard, all the sacrifices I made was all worth it.” And it will be.
Lord Jesus, it’s so hard sometimes to keep plowing, keep planting, keep weeding, and keep waiting for a harvest. Sometimes we just have to wait for your timing, right? When will it happen?