Jesus Christ told a parable about a farmer planting seed. Because in those days seed was sown by hand some fell in unprepared places: on the path, where the soil was hard and birds came and ate it; among rocks where there was hardly any soil at all, so it shrivelled under the heat of the sun; and among large and vigorous thorn bushes which choked it.

Jesus said that this story is about the different human hearts and their response to the truth about God. Some hearts are hard: God's truth is snatched away from them by the Devil. Some hearts receive God's truth in a superficial, temporary way, so when trouble or persecution comes they discard God's truth. Some hearts appear to receive God's truth, but their real focus is on their physical life and their material possessions, which smother God's truth.

The story also mentions the good soil, where the seed fell and grew and produced a crop.

This soil, Jesus said, speaks of the heart that hears the Word of God and understands it. This is no superficial understanding that sees the truth as a magic talisman to get one out of trouble, this is no receiving of God's truth as just one more thing to add to one's already full life.

This 'good-soil' person hears and understands. He knows that this truth, this word, is the ultimate truth: it will not share a man's heart, it demands his exclusive allegiance. He knows that on this truth, this truth alone, everything depends: from this truth the whole of reality, including his suffering, including his poverty or his wealth, takes its significance.

This parable stands as a challenge to every human being: it challenges us to look at our hearts and our response to God's truth. It tells us quite boldly that an insincere, superficial reception of God's truth is of no value at all. It tells us that such thoughtless faith is no faith at all, but a mere masquerade which time, or temporal treasures or trouble will expose.

But in those who hear and receive God's truth recognizing its absolute significance, it is active and productive. It accomplishes its purpose of God's glory and our salvation.

Scripture: Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2010