I used to wonder why Jesus said that understanding the parable of the soils was such a key parable. In fact in Mark 4, he says to the disciples that understanding this parable is key to understanding the other parables. Jesus teaches that the seed – the word of God, the truth of God, the message of Jesus – is scattered all over the place. And when it lands, it basically lands on 4 types of soil.
- Soil 1 – the seed never penetrates the soil. The message is rejected pretty much from the jump
- Soil 2 – the seed appears to penetrate the soil. The person is excited and it looks like they are going to grow. But there really is no root. It was emotional or environmental or experimental or whatever and in a short season the person is again far from God.
- Soil 3 – the seed appears to take to the soil. The person begins to follow God, but the realities of life choke out their faith. The choose career, stuff, depression, substances, worship of their kids, achievements and so on over God. The pursuit of these things cause the person to become ineffective for God. Their pursuit of the Lord quickly vanishes.
- Soil 4 – the seed takes the soil and grows and reproduces. The one seed generates a crop that creates other seeds and therefore other crops. These are the committed Christ followers who pursue Jesus with their lives and give it all. A key to this type of soil is that you will continually see fruit.
When I first got into ministry, I was very prepared for Soil 1 and Soil 4. But I was not ready for all those who are Soil 2 and Soil 3. In fact, it is Soils 2&3 where I find most people who attend my church. Over the course of almost 9 years, I have seen the reality of Soils 2&3 play out person after person and family after family. This parable makes so much more sense. As I reflect on this, 2 things come to mind. I long for people to be honest about what kind of soil they are. I long to always scatter seed well and praise God for each and every harvest He brings.