The seed is the word of God. Saint Paul says concerning this seed, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Why, then, are so many hearers of the Word ashamed of the Gospel? Why are many who hear the Word not saved? Jesus leaves us hanging in the parable of the soils on which the sower sows the seed. He doesn’t solve the mystery. He says His piece and lets it be. He does give His disciples, and us, the cast of characters, so to speak. Yet there is no answer. There are only reasons.
Many hear the Word. Saint Luke tells us so in a back-handed way when he writes a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to [Jesus]. Those who hear the Word hear what others hear. The sower only has one kind of seed: His seed, the Word of God. Don’t blame the seed. Don’t blame God. The Lord says through the prophet Isaiah, my word… shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Perhaps you think you’ve found the loophole. If the seed is the Word, then the purpose for the seed in some soils is for the seed to fail. Therefore God’s purpose is to let His Word fail. Again, you can’t blame the seed. The seed always accomplishes its goal or the Lord is a liar. The seed never returns empty. There it lays on several different types of soil, ready to die, yet in dying it lives and thrives, or is supposed to thrive.
Three types of soil where the seed lands gets in the way of the Word accomplishing the reason why it is sown. The soil hinders the Word through reluctance on entering and working on us. Some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. The world and the devil are given room to allow God’s work to be frustrated so that they may not believe and be saved. They instead hear the Word and remain obdurate. The Word is sown for their judgment and greater condemnation, so that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand”.
The seed is good. The Word is powerful. Yet as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture…. These have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. Remaining faithful to God’s promise of salvation in Jesus Christ is hard to believe when you suffer so much pressure from friends and family who want no part of the kingdom of heaven. The pressure points of life are exactly where the Lord seeks to strengthen you in His Word. Consider those in ancient times who were persecuted for their faith. Consider those even today halfway around the world who are ready to die rather than forsake the Lord. They gladly give their head to the Islamic State or other persecutors than bow the knee to a false god.
What is worse perhaps is a divided heart. You want to be a Christian on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Yet you also want to live alongside those who think this life is the only life you have. So you fill your life with earthly cares, yet set them aside for an hour or so on the weekend and let God have some time before you set God aside for the rest of the week. Jesus says as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
The purpose for which the seed is sown is accomplished in only a few. This doesn’t mean that only our precious flock in Momence or other precious flocks in other communities are the only ones to be saved. Compared to the billions of people on the planet, a precious few will be saved. That is a hard saying. Many cannot receive it. What of the millions of Buddhists, Hindu, or other religions? They do nice things for other people. They are ardent in what they believe. They might even be nicer than most Christians you know. Yet they will not be saved? It can’t be!
This is a hard saying. Again, many cannot receive it. Where the seed falls and is not hindered by hard soil, by rocky soil, or by thorny soil, it accomplishes that for which it was sent. It grows and yields a hundredfold. If you farmed ground and knew the seed that you planted would give a hundredfold yield for every seed, you would practically dance around your barn. The same can be said for the Word that is sown. It will accomplish great things if only the soil it is planted in would get out of the way and let the seed do what it does.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. The best way to let the seed accomplish what the Lord wants to accomplish is to get out of the way. There are those who won’t get out of the way and think they can do something either to help or to hinder the seed. We can’t help the seed along. It doesn’t need our help. The Savior accomplishes what He is sent to do by Himself. Every attempt to stop Him or to help Him ends up embarrassing those who try it. Consider Peter telling Jesus He shouldn’t suffer, die, and rise from the dead for the sins of the world. Get behind me, Satan is how Jesus responds to Peter. People heckle our Lord on the cross, yelling at Him to come down so they might believe. Jesus remains steadfast to the end, even in great agony.
The mystery doesn’t take much to solve, yet it also remains unsolved. The seed of the Word works when and where He wills, not when and where we will. The seed is sown everywhere. Some places it doesn’t take root. Others it does. Where the seed does take root, it bears fruit a hundredfold. That’s where our joy is found. Even when it seems that the soil remains perpetually hard, rocky, or thorny, there is always a patch of ground somewhere where we can rejoice in the seed bearing fruit. After all, it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.