Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
Jesus made a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him, which was perhaps one of the most famous parables:
“A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
His disciples could not understand the meaning of this parable. They asked him what the parable meant. Jesus replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they look, they won’t really see.
When they hear, they won’t understand.’” (Luke 8:5-10)
Jesus explained the meaning of the four different cases. The first seed is fell on a heart that is so hard that God’s Word cannot penetrate at all. The God’s Word just sits outside of their hearts. Then the God’s Word becomes a target for the devil, and the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts. As a result, they may not believe and be saved. It is a real pity that such hearts cannot even taste the God’s grace, mercy and love at all. We need to soften our hearts before God to hear His Word. If not, our enemy, the Satan, takes away the most precious God’s Word from such people.
The second seed fell on the rock represents the people who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. Yes, God’s Word is the source of the true joy for us. However, people cannot continue being in the joy because they have no root. Our life is not short. Surely, a period of testing or temptation comes. Without a root, we easily fall away from the grace of God. This is another pity.
The third seed falls on soil, and the seed sprouts and grows. The joy of receiving God’s Word continues unlike the case of the seed fell on the rock without root. However, as the faith in their hearts grow, the faith starts interfering with their lives on earth – i.e., earthly cares, riches and pleasures. Initially, the interference might be so small that it hardly be noticed. However, as the faith grows bigger, the conflict between the faith and the world is escalating to a level that they cannot coexist any more. Bible tells “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Then the earthly cares, riches and pleasure chock the faith. The faith no longer grows. The power of the world is so strong, and it grows too. It will soon contain dominate our hearts, and even kill the tender faith.
The last seed that fell on the good soil represents people who really hear and live out the Word. Their hearts are good for the Word, and they lack of the earthly cares, riches and pleasures. Their hearts are single-minded to God, and God’s Word. In their hearts, God’s Word grows, and produces crops: a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.
Many of us have already heard this parable. We all know that a good soil is the key to produce a plentiful harvest. We also ask about how to acquire and maintain good soil in our hearts.
This parable is written in the three books in Bible: Matthew, Mark and Luke. The book of Luke uniquely provides an answer about how to possess and maintain the good soil: “hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce….” (Luke 8:15) Although we might possess good soil in our heart at one point, it might not stay forever as it is. As we need to take care of our garden – watering, putting fertilizer, and weeding out any harmful weeds, we need to take care of our heart soil.
Bible explains. We need to cling to the Word, the absolute truth, which never changes and the source of the salvation of God. Yes, clinging to the Word certainly needs our effort of holding on tight to the truth. Then we need to be persistent and persevering in the Word. We know the world does not let us alone. If we do nothing, soon we will be drift away with the world. Like fish swimming against the flow, we have swim against the world while fixing eyes on Jesus Christ on cross. This is our perseverance in Christ, which pleases God, our Father. Those who see our perseverance will see the glory of God, and this good deed is the crop that we produce and that God loves to harvest.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)