Looking out the front windows of the motorhome at the expanse of brilliant blue sky, and the shadows resting on the rust-colored mountains in the distance, my heart stirs as I think of my God who made all of this. Slowly my gaze shifts downward and closer to our RV site. The ground here is so very hard and dry. In places the ground is so parched it’s even cracked apart. Other areas of this desert floor are completely covered with rock. And yet, southwest Arizona has a peculiar beauty all its own. It draws me into itself as I unwind and focus on its stillness. On this day there is no sound, no wind, no movement of any sort. No people, no birds, nothing, just dirt, rocks and a few half-starved scrawny thorn bushes and some cactus trying to survive. It’s amazing to me that anything could possibly grow here.
Let’s look at some other kinds of dirt, dirt that has ears. You didn’t know that dirt can hear? Jesus told a parable about four different kinds of dirt in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The wayside dirt, or the ground used for many to travel on; the stony dirt; the thorny-bush dirt; and last, the good fertile dirt. These are used to describe the heart and soul of mankind. Every person alive who has heard about the Gospel, (seed) can be identified here. How important is that? Well, Jesus said if we don’t get this parable, we won’t understand any of the others.
He describes a farmer who came along sowing seed. When the seed landed on the compacted pathway, how could it possibly penetrate the surface? Have you ever seen a tree grow up in the fast lane of the freeway? That seed on the wayside dirt had to remain on top which left it vulnerable to the birds which came and devoured it. No seed, no crop.
Next we have ground that is covered with stones. The seed sown there was able to penetrate, but just the surface. So many hindrances surrounded this seed. Since there was no depth of earth it therefore could not root. Immediately the seed burst forth, springing upward. But when the sun arose it was horribly scorched because it had not developed a root system. No roots, no water!
Some more seed fell among thorny bushes. That seed penetrated the ground and grew some roots, but as it struggled to grow up, the thorns suffocated and finally choked the seed.
But some seed fell on good fertile dirt. It penetrated the irrigated ground and over time grew a crop that produced a healthy, bountiful harvest. Out of the four kinds of ground, this is the only dirt that was productive and fruitful, sometimes bringing in a hundredfold return for the farmer.
The same seed fell on all four kinds of dirt. This special seed is called the Word of God. It is the same, yesterday, today and forever. It is alive. It is incorruptible, lives and abides forever and can produce a new creation, the born again man. The same seed that produced in the fertile ground was unproductive in the other types of ground.
Let’s look at the problem. The heart of man is exceedingly wicked without God. It believes it can produce fruit on its own. It values and treasures things that have no value and are but a vapor in the span of eternity.
Four different kinds of hearts are revealed by the Master. The heart is the ground which the Word of God was trying to penetrate. Each ground had ears that heard God’s Word. I told you dirt has ears!
Those called “the pathway ground” heard the Word but since they had no understanding of what was being said, the devil came and stole it out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved. The “stony ground” heard and received the Word with great joy, but that joy was temporary because they were not rooted. They could not hold on and soon yielded to temptation and fell away. Where did they go? They went back into the world’s system of vain and fruitless endeavors. Seed growing amidst “thorny ground” could never produce anything of eternal value because this heart is consumed daily with the cares and worries of their families and circumstances of this world. Some in this group even believe they exist to seek after things they think really matter, like money. But Jesus called this “the deceitfulness of riches.”
So what’s different about good dirt? They are those who having heard, recognize the truth and with a willing and good heart become rooted and grounded, more and more each day. They bear fruit with patience. They hear the Word of God, putting the highest value on it. They accept it and do what it says. They put God’s Word first place in their lives no matter what else is going on around them. You see, when this ground heard the good news of God’s love, they embraced Him and received the true reason for living. Nothing else in their lives is more important.
It has been said that in the seed of an apple is an apple tree. That seed held in your hand can produce nothing. It needs to be planted, watered and nourished. The seed has within itself the ability to reproduce itself, as it grows roots deep in the ground and grows up becoming a healthy tree with branches and fruit. One tiny seed can produce an abundant harvest of apples over its lifetime.
God’s Word has within itself the ability to reproduce but must first be planted in the heart of that good fertile ground and be watered and nourished. There are four different kinds of people in the parable. Which one are you? How’s your heart?
Evidently what God calls fruit and what the world calls fruit is not the same. How can we apply this teaching of Jesus? Is your work producing everlasting fruit that is building God’s Kingdom? Let’s be more fervent and determined to be that rich fertile soil that will produce a hundredfold harvest for the FARMER!
After all, what do you think you were born for?