Matthew 13 record what is commonly called The Parable of the Sower. But, the focus of the story is actually on the condition of the soils on which the seed falls. The point of the parable is that the reasons that people do not respond to Jesus’ message have to do with the conditions of their hearts.
The seed is the word of God, and especially the good news about how to get into Jesus’ kingdom. Sowing takes place when anyone teaches or explains the message about Jesus to someone else. Ultimately, the sower is any Christian who is sowing the seed, and of course, Christ Himself as the one after whom we are named.
The Meaning of the Soils
What do the soils in this parable represent?
Hard soil is the first type listed. It represents the unreceptive heart. Soil, of course, is not responsible for being hard and unreceptive to seed. But people are. When a person’s heart is hard to the gospel, it is because that person has hardened his own heart against the truth. If you have a hard heart, if you are unreceptive to what Jesus taught and is teaching even through His word today, you ought to be afraid. Jesus Himself said there will come a time when you will seek Him and you will not find Him, and you will die in your sins.
A second type of soil is the superficial heart. Jesus says this person hears the gospel message and comprehends it and accepts it as factually true. He responds to the truth emotionally and with joy, perhaps even with a highly emotional experience. However, he only believes for a while.
Superficial hearts eventually desert the faith. Although for a time a person may look like the real thing, when trouble or persecution comes it becomes obvious this person was never a believer. The seed never took root. Judas Iscariot is an example. For three and a half years he looked like the real thing. So much so that when he left the room on the night of the last supper, not one of the disciples suspected that Judas was, in fact, the betrayer. He preached, he traveled with Jesus, he was enthusiastic in his support of Jesus, but when he saw that this kingdom thing wasn’t exactly going to work out like he had hoped, he wanted out. He was scandalized and he turned on Jesus.
Sadly, there are many who make a profession of faith in Christ and then trouble, hardship, or persecution arise, they reject the message they once received with such joy.
Some hearts are hard. Others are superficial. Do you have a hard or a superficial heart? Examine yourself in light of God’s word, and repent and believe in Christ.