For the next few days we will look at Jesus’ story of “the sower,” a parable that tells about how God’s kingdom works. The seeds are God’s Word – the ground is us, our hearts – the Sower is the Spirit of God.
It was the end of a very long and difficult day for Jesus. He had fought a battle with demons, disease and the religious leaders who were accusing him of anything that would support their position. The battle was never in doubt; however, human flesh does get tired, and this was one tough day at Jesus’ office. Even Jesus’ mother and brothers were wondering about his sanity. (A few of my family members have felt the same way about me being in ministry!)
Jesus headed for the mountain retreat, but the crowds followed. So Jesus got into a small fishing boat and pushed out a few feet from shore, looking back to the crowds. Against a backdrop of cornfields on the hillside, those people looked just like the harvest Jesus was seeking. Farmers were in those fields, planting. Jesus takes the time to teach the followers all about HINDERANCES in the kingdom.
In the first 18 verses of the chapter we receive the riddle of the sower and his seeds, and the reason for the riddle. In the last five verses Jesus unfolds the parable’s problems, showing us what keeps us from being all God promised us we could be.
THE PROBLEM OF HARDNESS
The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. Matthew 13:19 (NLT)
It is important to say that God never forces His Word on an unwilling heart. The hardened pathway was packed down soil from years of the farmer walking on it to scatter the seed in the field. Nothing could grow there.
In the same way, an unwilling, hardened heart will never receive the seed of God's Word of salvation. The hardness Jesus was depicting is the heart of an unsaved person. Salvation is a free gift. However, it is not yours until you receive it.
Just like a seed cannot germinate until it is in the ground, an unwilling heart which refuses to accept the grace of God belongs to an unsaved pagan.
The great evangelist of the 19th century, D.L. Moody, had a deep commitment to Christ. Because of this he always had to deal with hecklers. Once when Moody stood to preach to a large congregation, he was handed a note. It had but one word, "FOOL." Without a pause Moody announced to the crowd, "I am stunned. I have known of many times when someone has written a note, and then forgotten to sign it; but this is the first time I have ever gotten a signature with no note."
Psalms 14:1 tells us, The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.
Consider these two very important verses about the stubborn, hardened ground of a heart that won’t let the seed take hold (meaning to hear and obey God’s Word):
The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts….Psalms 95:8a (NLT)
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. Proverbs 29:1 (NLT)
Is there any area of your life that you are protecting from God?