Jesus often taught His lessons to the masses in the form of parables–spiritual truths gleaned from comparison to everyday experiences using analogy. The parable of the sower of seeds is one such parable, which gives us a good picture of the different kinds of responses that are possible to the message of Christ.
The sower’s seeds fall on four different kinds of ground:
- Beside the road
- On rocky places
- Among thorns
- On good soil.
The seeds beside the road never have a chance to grow because the birds eat them up before they can take any root. These represent people who have no response to the message of salvation. They hear His Word but don’t understand because Satan snatches the message away before they have a chance to believe.
The seeds that land on rocky places spring up quickly, but have no roots. Without roots, these same seeds just as quickly whither when the sun beats down on them. These seeds represent the emotional response to the Word. The rocky soil person hears God’s Word with joy, but because he has no root in himself, he gives up at the first challenge to his faith.
The seeds among thorns spring up, but get choked out by the thorns that surround them. This is a worldly response to the Word. Even though this person allows the seed to grow, very soon the worries of this world, the charms of wealth, and the pleasures of this world choke out the core message of the Word.
The seeds on good soil yield crops one hundred, sixty, thirty times the quantity of the original seed. These seeds represent the fruitful response to the Word, those people who understand Christ’s Truth and act in such a way as to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God because of that belief:
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:15)
Even though we cannot earn salvation, once we attain salvation through our faith, we don’t have any choice but to do the works that are the natural result of a true faith. The Ryrie Study Bible (NASB) explains it this way: “Both Paul and James define faith as a living, productive trust in Christ.” James writes,
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith [which is a dead faith] save him? . . . You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2: 14, 19-20)
The seeds in good soil bear fruit, whether that is taking a meal to a widow or paying a compliment to a perfect stranger to brighten someone’s day. Any action that reflects the light of the Lord takes a step in faith of bearing fruit. “For just as the body without the spirit is dead,” James concludes, “so also faith without works is dead” (2:26). To grow our roots, we have to work to create the good soil that will foster our faith in the One and Only.
Perseverance is the key to making the parable of the sower a reality in your own life. Without perseverance, you might let the worries of this world choke out your faith. Without perseverance, you might fail to attain the roots you need to hold on to your faith when the troubles of this life challenge you. We fertilize our good soil by studying the Word, praying continually, and finding fellowship with other believers.
In good soil, we can truly persevere to bear fruit that is the end result of a faith that is fully awake.
*Note: The parable of the sower, made during Christ’s sermon on the seashore, can be read in Matthew 13:5, Mark 4:3-8 and Luke 8:5-8.