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The Parable of the Sower and the Four
Kinds of Ground
Matt.13, Mark 4, Luke 8

 

The Wayside

“A sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.” Luke 8:5

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart,” Matt. 13:19,lest they should believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12

In this parable, the sower, bearing with him the gospel of Christ, drops some of his seed into a heart that is as hard as a country dirt road.  All kinds of guests must have traveled through this heart since childhood, packing down its soil thoroughly. The meaning of the word ‘sin’ is almost incomprehensible to such a person now, should he ever have had an understanding of it. He is ignorant and insensitive because of his hardened heart, the result of having lived in a multitude of sins.  Eph. 4:17-19.  The words of the sower make no impression on him, and he has no ability to understand what it is all about or to see what use it could have.  He neither sees nor hears anything in what is preached to him.  The wicked one snatches away the seed that has been sown in a moment!

We can yet imagine that such a person feels a bit bothered by the situation; he thinks he is just fine as he is.  So rather facetiously he says to the sower: “Well……you’re the one that’s seen the light then, aren’t you?” When the sower confirms this, thanking and praising God for salvation as he continues to sow his seed, the person, after listening a little more, asks the sower another question: “Do you really think that you are a better person than me, or more righteous than I am? Don’t you know that it’s only weak and nervous people who are fooled by this kind of ‘Jesus talk?’ People who just have to have something supernatural in their lives to cling to and be comforted by?  Besides, I am not a common heathen.  I do the best I can and I think that’s good enough—just so you know!  I am not afraid to die either.  Why don’t you go and find some drug addicts, alcoholics, or troublemakers to preach to?  Wasn’t it harlots and criminals with whom this Jesus person spent His time anyway?”  The seed virtually bounces off, like water off a ducks back, and rolls along the road. 

It is pointless to sow on a hard dirt road.  It cannot be cultivated even if you were to dump truck loads of seed there.  You would simply be feeding the birds!  A heart that is like a hard dirt road does not allow itself to be influenced either by the word of the gospel or by the Holy Spirit.  Such a person is good enough as he is, in fact, better than most people.  He displays no humility and so receives no grace. 

Just by chance, his path crosses that of the sower.  He did not seek out a Christian meeting, and has no drawing in his heart towards God.  His earthly plans actually act as a shield around his mind. He does not intend at any cost to deviate from or give up these plans.  Besides, it will soon be the weekend.  Then he will go out to have fun with his friends again. 1 Pet. 4:5-6.  His kingdom is and remains of this world, so the evil one, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience….,” has a very easy job.  Eph. 2: 1-3.

All the same, we can imagine that he did hear something he found a bit interesting, prompting him to question some of his friends.  All people have others to whom they go for advice, or with whom they discuss matters.  The Son of Man says that the seed was trampled on, mocked, and crushed.  A person whose heart is like a hard dirt road values greatly what others say and think about a matter, especially if these are family and friends.  There are many people on the road.  Many mouths devour the seeds, many feet tread on and crush them, and there are many influences upon a person’s thoughts and choices. 

In this way he is finally able to confirm his own misgivings, and conclude that just like everything he has heard before, this too is not to be believed.  It was all a farytale. Neither is it anything on which it is worth spending time and energy. He ends his conversation with the sower by saying that he can’t understand anyone wanting to spend his time or his life on such foolishness, on such nebulous and dubious issues about which no-one can actually claim to know anything. “Besides, when all’s told, we will all find out what is really the truth when we die,” he says with a scornful sneer, as he leaves the sower.

It is impossible to open the eyes and ears of a person whose heart is like a country dirt road to the invisible and eternal worth of the gospel of Christ.  It is also time to stop sowing one’s seed when the “little birds” start playing around and chirping out their facetious comments, fluttering their feathers and pecking away, or singing mocking songs, flapping their wings loudly because of all the seed they’ve been fed.  This is actually one of the most convincing indications that the sower has met up with someone whose heart is like a hard dirt road. 

Only the upheaval of an earthquake or similar devastating catastrophe can open such people’s eyes and ears, and possibly make their hearts receptive and workable. First and foremost, that hard country road must go.  The soil must be thoroughly tilled.  Such a task is in God’s hands. Until something like this happens, we must simply wait, and let people go their way.

Such people become neither wheat nor tares. 

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