Many people imagine that they can go to heaven when they die, if they live a life that is mostly good. In fact, God requires much more than “goodness,” He requires complete repentance and absolute commitment to the Savior He has sent into the world. Whether or not a person is able to receive heaven, and find salvation by the Savior whom God has sent–depends largely on the condition of their heart.
According to Jesus, the heart is the soil; the seed is the word of God. Depending on the condition of the soil (heart), the word of God can either be greatly hindered or obstructed altogether.
The Parable of the Sower
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Mark 4:3-9, 13-20
Matthew 13:18-23 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 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. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The Sower is the Holy Spirit who declares the truth of Jesus to the hearts of all people.
- The Wayside: Is a path that has been compacted. The heart of this person has been hardened by various circumstances of his life. The Seed is the good news about Jesus. When this person hears that he can be saved through repentance and by turning to Jesus as his Savior, he doesn’t understand. Because of the hardness of his heart and his inability to receive the truth of what Jesus has accomplished, he is not able to receive the Lord and be saved. The devil comes soon after and takes away the seed of truth about Jesus.
- The Stony Places: This person receives the good news about Jesus when it is presented to him. But because he has not yet been rooted in the word of God, he is easily overcome by the trials and difficulties of life. This prevents this person from continuing with Jesus, and he falls away.
- The Thorns: Represents the worries and concerns of this life and the pursuit of things in the world: career, making money, buying and selling, pleasure, and personal relationships. All these can choke out the presence of Jesus in a person’s life and prevent him from growing. Eventually, this individual may fall away from the Lord and no longer walk with Him.
- The Good Ground: A heart prepared. This person hears the good news about Jesus; receives Him as his Savior; and avoids the pitfalls of allowing his heart to become hardened, discouragement by trials, and being overcome by the pursuits and pleasures of this world. This individual goes on to live a fruitful and productive life for Jesus and leads others to the Lord.
These realities of the human heart are the conditions which ultimately allow a person to receive Jesus as their Savior, or miss Him altogether.
Jesus implies that the first three conditions of the heart, can be changed—if the person becomes aware of these hindrances, and takes steps to eliminate these barriers to faith. If however, the hard heart, trials and difficulties, and cares of this world—are not properly dealt with, a continued relationship with Jesus is impossible.
Ultimately, it is the word of God and the Holy Spirit—working together, which either soften the heart and prepare it to receive Jesus, or harden heart and confirm an unwilling heart to reject Jesus.
We should note that none of these conditions of the heart are the fault of God. In each example, it was the person who allowed these circumstances in their life—which prevented them from going forward with Jesus. God is always willing to save anyone who will humble themselves and turn to Jesus for their salvation.
If we use the statistics given by Jesus in this Parable, then only one person in four, who hears the good news about Jesus, will continue with Him and be saved. It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus; we must persist with Him throughout our life, no matter what else comes along. Jesus said: “He that endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:13
The preceding was taken from “The Parables of the Messiah,” by Robert Clifton Robinson