Please note two new links I have added to the side of the page. Both are named Secret Church. One is in Chinese and one in English. Both have great teaching on many different aspects of the Christian faith.
So today while I was doing my daily devotion time, I read a well known Christian story. If you haven’t been around Church that long I will give you a little background of the story first. When Jesus came to earth he often spoke in parables. These are story’s that use earthly terminology to describe something heavenly. Commonly, Jesus would use terms from farming or fishing, common jobs at the time, to allow people to understand an important heavenly truth. But Jesus also spoke this way so that only the elect could truly understand their meaning, (Matthew 13:10-17). So it was very common for Jesus to speak this way, and it was also common that many people wouldn’t understand, (again, Jesus did this knowing that they would not grasp the heavenly implications).
So the parable I read today is called the parable of the sower and goes like this:
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:1-9
Now after reading this parable some of you know exactly what each of the four surfaces mean. Again, if you aren’t really sure what each means go to Matthew 13:18-23 and read Jesus’ explanation of the four different soils. My purpose today is not to try and explain the parable. Jesus has already done that and I can not do better at explaining something that God has already explained. Rather, my goal today is for us to take a deeper look at ourselves and try to see which path we may find ourselves on.
I say this because I believe every person, (Christian and non-Christian alike), who reads the above parable assumes they are the good soil. We all assume we are on the right track. While most people will say they aren’t perfect, few will admit they aren’t even good. So my challenge to each of us today is to really examine ourselves. For non-Christians this means looking deeply at whether or not you truly believe you are “good” enough on your own, or if you are in need of a savior. And for Christians, this means examining whether or not you truly know Christ. Paul says “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
So let’s examine the 3 other types of surfaces and see whether or not you pass the test. The first type Jesus describes is those who have heard, but don’t really understand and so they just don’t try to understand. To me, these people sound arrogant and prideful. It seems as though, because something is difficult for them, they excuse it as rubbish rather than admitting they might not have all the answers. Instead of seeking after truth, they leave it alone and go on with their everyday, self-indulgent life.
Is that you? Are you someone who has never even really given Jesus a chance? Maybe someone told you about Jesus and you scoffed at them because you feel like Christianity, the Bible and Jesus don’t match up with modern science and your own intellect. Or maybe you were interested but couldn’t understand, so instead you went back to something easy to grasp. Or maybe the idea that ultimate truth does exist and can be known scares you, so you have avoided seeking the meaning of life in exchange for self-exaltation.
Or possibly you relate to those on the second surface. These people receive the Gospel message with joy. They look “born-again” and people all around start to see amazing evidence of it. But inside they know they were never born again. This second group sounds like selfishness is their sin. They like Jesus for His forgiveness, but choose not to read any part where He says we will suffer. They chose Jesus because He makes them happy and provides hope and joy for them now. But as soon as their life is anything but comfortable and easy they curse God or ask why He has abandoned them.
Is that you? Did you choose Jesus just as a “get out of hell free card?” Did you choose Him because you think He will make your life comfortable and smooth? Are you hoping that He will bless you with all you want and need? Are you willing to listen and suffer with Jesus or only choose Him as long as it benefits yourself?
The third group of people are those who have heard of Jesus, but have decided that the pleasures of this world are far greater than what Jesus can offer. These people tend to struggle with materialism and covetousness. They find their worth in their possessions, their pleasures and most likely, their money. They can’t understand verses like Matthew 13:44-46. Jesus promises heaven, but He says we have to give, suffer and sacrifice on earth. These people would much rather get, party and seek pleasure than anything else.
Is that you? Are you so focused on seeking pleasure, (money, possessions, sex, comfort, etc…), that you care little for anything else? Have you decided the pleasures of here and now are better than those offered after death? Does the idea of giving all you own to the poor terrify you?
In all honesty, we really probably relate to all three types of soil. Sometimes I struggle with my pride, other times my selfishness and still other times with materialism. How could I be the good soil? Well thanks be to God that I am not meant to be good soil on my own. Only through the cross can I possibly overcome these temptations to sin and instead produce “hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Christ has made me into the good soil.
Non-Christians, my prayer is that you will realize that no matter how hard you work or how much you try you can never be the good soil. It is like a patch of dirt becoming a garden. The dirt can’t cause this to happen on its own, but rather needs a farmer to come and work the ground, plant the seeds and care for it. May you see that Jesus has come and has offered to do this with your life.
Christians, may we test ourselves. May we not grow comfortable thinking we are the good soil when pride, temptation and future suffering are waiting for us. May we realize that each soil represents our life and that for us, we must cry out to Jesus. May we humbly run to Him who made us good and continue to cling to Him forever.