Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches (Matthew 13:31-32).
When I was young my dad planted a garden every spring. We lived all year long on the harvest of those wonderful vegetables. But it was a lot of work. The ground had to be prepared. Fertilizer had to be spread. Weeds had to be removed. Insects had to be kept away. But it was well worth the trouble when we sat down week after week in cold winter months to a plate full of sweet corn, field peas, green beans, squash, and butterbeans.
Before planting the vegetables each spring, I noticed the bags on the shelf in the tool shed. Opening them before planting I noticed the old seeds lying dormant in the bag. At times, we had some left over from the previous year. These seeds never changed until we placed them in a different environment. They were made to be placed in soil. That’s the only place they do their work.
The kingdom of God works on the principle of the seed. A seed is small and unassuming. It’s not necessarily pretty to look at either. In the wrong place, it’s completely paralyzed. Without attention, its power is never unleashed. The power to feed thousands is in one little seed! And the amount of harvest has a lot to do with the attention that seed gets as the plant it produces grows. Insects and weeds must be dealt with regularly. Irrigation at times is essential.
The Word of God is like a seed! The kingdom of God works on the seed principle. The sower (the pastor or minister) sows the seed into hearts. The heart is the soil that germinates the Word and unleashes its power!
Jesus said that there are four types of heart soil where the Word can be planted (see Mark 4). Wayside soil is tough and impenetrable. It’s so hard that the seed just lies on the top and produces nothing but food for the birds to eat. The forces of hell love this soil. No kingdom seed will grow here. It’s the soil where they do their best work.
Stony ground hinders the root system of newly germinating seeds. Since the roots can’t dig down into deeper soil, the plant dies when it gets too tall for the small roots to supply needed nourishment. This believer hears and enjoys the Word to a degree, but because they are not disciplined enough to get the rocks out of the soil, the Word only does so much in them. In tough times they often bail out and quit! It’s not the seed that is the problem. It’s the soil!
Thorny ground hearers get excited about the Word for a period of time. They nurture the soil of their heats and the Word begins bearing fruit in them. But this believer becomes lukewarm in their walk with God. Other things begin to be more important than God and the Word. Gradually they become too busy. They begin to miss a church service here and there. Daily devotions lose their luster and become occasional. And the weeds of money, worry, and desire for other things choke the once healthy seed. The gains this believer has had in spiritual development are lost. I see this frequently.
Good ground hearers produce fruit in the kingdom of God! According to their diligence in the Word, the kingdom of God expands in them and then through them! Tomorrow, I’ll give the details of this believer’s walk with God! Watch over the seed of the Word of God that’s in you today! Let it germinate!