Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark
“That same day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea, and such large crowds were gathered around him that he boarded a boat to sit in, and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘The sower went out to sow, and as he sowed, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and gobbled them up. But other seed fell on rocky places where they didn’t have much soil, and they immediately sprang up, since they had no depth of soil. But after the sun arose, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered. Then, other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out. But others fell onto good soil and bore fruit, some a hundredfold, but some sixty, and some thirty.’ ”
From the preceding parable, we see that all who are privileged to hear the Word of God are divided into four groups. This being true, each one of us should ask the question, “Which group am I in?” or “What kind of soil am I?” First, let us look at
(1) The Wayside Soil (Mt. 13:19)
“Everyone who hears the word of the kingdom and doesn’t understand, the Evil One comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one who was sown along the path.”
From the millions in this group often comes the question, “Is it our fault that we do not understand? Are we to be blamed for that?” Jesus gave the answer (Mt. 13:15):
“For the heart of this people is hardened, and they hear with dull ears and they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand in their heart, and repent, and I heal them.”
We might say, people do not understand the Word of God because they prefer sin and worldly pleasure. Anyone who wishes may easily understand enough of God’s Word to repent. Now, we move on to
(2) The Stony Soil (Mt. 13:20–21)
“But the one who was sown on rocky places, he is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself. He endures but for a while, but when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he’s offended.”
In the stony soil, we find someone who hears the Word of God and, may we say, bubbles over with joy as he receives it. His experience in the Lord is genuine and wonderful. It leaves him shouting the victory and rejoicing; yet, he fails to stand for what he knows to be true; consequently, he is soon overwhelmed by the doubting spirits around him. Next, the Lord speaks of
(3) The Thorny Soil (Mt. 13:22)
“As for the one that was sown among the thorns, he is the one who hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
The striking difference between these believers and those in group two is the time element. Those in group two lasted only a short time. Here in group three, the believer runs well for quite a while; but as time passes, he grows weaker. This, of course, is due to the fact that he allowed thorns to remain, and they choked out the seed of God. The thorns represent “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,” and these two evils make a believer unfruitful if they are allowed to grow in the heart.
Yes, Reader, those in this third group go much further than believers in the second group, who, as we are told, “last for a short while.” The truth is, those who are the thorny soil do not give up and walk away. Rather, they remain among the assembly of saints, even though they become unfruitful. In high moments of ecstasy, they may even be inspired to speak boldly against evil or to praise the Lord to the extent that they leave the impression that they are better soil than they actually are. Such believers reflect the biblical picture that is drawn in Matthew 15:8:
“This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with their lips they honor me, but their heart is far from me.”
This thorny soil group equals in number the good soil group, for in one famous parable, Jesus compared God’s kingdom with ten spiritual “virgins”, five of them wise and five of them foolish (Mt. 25:1–13). They all had oil, you will remember, but the foolish did not bring enough of it. Likewise, all believers have the oil of the Spirit, but half of them do not have enough of it, and they will be cast out of the kingdom when they are judged. Finally, Jesus tells us of
(4) The Good Soil (Mt. 13:23)
“But as for the one who was sown onto good soil, he is the one who hears the word and understands, who indeed bears fruit and produces, this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, but another thirty.”
Thank God for these holy and faithful believers, who not only receive the Word of God but also obey it to the end. They have oil enough to take them all the way to the great marriage supper of the Lamb. Each one produces fruit according to his ability, “this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, but another thirty.”
So, now, can you answer my question, friend? In which of these four groups are you? It helps us to answer that question honestly once we acknowledge that not only the Lord sees where we really are, but every true saint of God does, too.
Reader, stay in “the good soil,” for the time is short “when he will come to be glorified in his saints.” Amen!
By George C. Clark
The fowls watched the sower’s hand
and saw some seeds fall short.
They quickly “came and ate them up.”
So ended this first sort.
The sun then played its burning part,
and scorched the ones who fell
upon the stony, arid ground,
where waters seldom dwell.
Next, the thorns all had their way
by choking out the seed.
At first they grew so very slow,
Sand then they took the lead.
But others fell in ground that’s good,
And they brought forth the fruit,
An hundred, sixty, or thirtyfold,
The price of a wedding suit.