Jesus told the parable of the sower, and explained that it illustrated people’s different responses to the word of the gospel, and it is often used in evangelism training to prepare people for the kind of responses they might get. But what about preparing the people we talk to, or preparing us to deal with them better?
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
When a gardener plans a garden they take into consideration the type of soil, the situation in sun or shade, the nutrients, and many other things. You would not throw seeds on the ground, the rocks, and the path and just expect them to grow. You would examine the ground and prepare it first. Each different type of ground needs different preparation, and there are things we can do to prepare people to improve the chances of a good response to the gospel.
Let us look at each type of response and see how we could prepare the ground to make it more fertile:
v.19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
We are all called to share the good news, but how well do we prepare? When someone asks a question, have we thought out how we would present the gospel and deal with common questions? Or do we muddle through, and risk leaving the person not understanding?
v.20-21 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
When new people come to church, seeking or having just accepted the gospel, what support mechanisms do we have in place to help them? Being saved does not immediately change your personality, your circumstances, or your friends and relations. How can we help them when they are ridiculed for their new faith, their new standards? How can we help them make new friends when the old ones desert them or are left behind? Becoming a Christian is more than a change of mind, it is a change of attitude, behaviour, lifestyle – it can be quite a shock. How can we help them to stick with it?
v.22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
How can we help anyone in the church who has financial or other problems, especially those who are new? Christians are not immune, yet the ‘cares of the world’ may be the reason they came seeking a better life in the first place. They need to be shown that Jesus gives you a new heart, a new attitude, a new inner strength to deal with these things, but he doesn’t take them away. It is so important to build our church members into mature Christians, not just to get people saved and assume they are all right from there on.
v.23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
We must prepare ourselves to understand the word and be fruitful, but also to think through how we will help others to come to maturity too. Then much more of the gospel seed will have the chance to grow in those around us.