1 Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” 9 Then he said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.” 10 When he was alone, those around him with the Twelve, asked him about the parables. 11 He answered them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables 12 so that they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.” 13 Then he said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And others are like seed sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.” — Mark 4:1-20
What Kind Of Soil Is Your Heart?
by Hunter Melton
Avenue South Campus
When I was young my grandfather used to let me plant seeds in his massive garden—things like tomatoes, corn, squash, and watermelon! I would love taking the seeds out of the pouch and placing them in the ground. My grandfather told me the condition of the soil was critically important to the health and the growth of the seed. So he spent a lot of time preparing the soil, tilling it, testing it, and eventually creating deep rows for the seeds to find their ultimate home. According to Jesus, our hearts are very much so like the soil in my grandfather’s garden. If our hearts are not prepared correctly, then the gospel can’t take root.
Because He lived in an agrarian society, Jesus used a gardening illustration for those who had gathered to listen to Him. He talked about seed falling on a hardened path, on rocky ground, in between thorns, and finally on good ground. When seed fell on the first three types of soil, it didn’t do well. It was only when the seed landed on the good ground that it grew up to produce “fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.”
Naturally, the disciples and those who listened to Him were confused. What could this possibly mean for them? Why did Jesus describe such an obvious truth with no real application? Mark tells us that the disciples asked for an explanation, and Jesus gave it. The hard soil was like a hard heart where the gospel could not penetrate. The rocky soil was like a shallow heart where the gospel took root for a brief time, but as soon as life got difficult, the hope of the gospel faded from the person’s life. The seed that fell among thorns was like a person who received the gospel, but the cares of the world distracted them and choked out the hope they had in Jesus. The final soil is our only positive example, and it is the soil that we should all desire to be!
What type of soil describes you right now? Is your faith shallow, able to be blown around by the difficulties of this world? Do the cares and concerns you have in life choke out the joy of your faith? Friends and family, please know that the gospel is given to us as a promise. If we prepare our hearts, then the gospel will take root in our lives. Life is challenging, but don’t make the mistake of thinking our lives should speak into the gospel. The gospel should speak into our lives. When we order this rightly, the thorns of life will lose their power, and the gospel will become sweet, rich and powerful.
- Which soil describes where you are right now? Why do you think you are in that season?
- What spiritual disciplines are absent in your life which could “till the soil” of your heart for the gospel?
- If your heart is hardened, who are you in community with to help soften you?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.