While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
One reason for my affinity goes back to when my Christian faith was new. In reading Donald Miller's phenomenal book Blue Like Jazz there was a portion of the book that sticks with me because of its tenderness and honesty. Miller is describing a conversation he had with a woman named Penny about her conversion story (centered around the parable in the same parable as it is written in Matthew):
There is a part in Matthew where Jesus talks about soil, and He is going to throw some seed on the soil, and some of the seed is going to grow because the soil is good, and some of the seed isn't because it feel on rock or the soil that wasn't as good. And when I heard that, Don, everything in me leaped up, and I wanted so bad to be the good soil. That is all I wanted, to be the good soil! I was like, Jesus, please let me be the good soil!
Her whole story is great (the whole book is really good too). But, that part stuck out to me because I want to be the good soil too. This is important: We have some control over our own soil. And, we can impact the soil others have too. Through spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading our bible, studying, fasting, and other disciplines that act as vehicles into God's transforming love our soil will be altered. When our soil is good we can help others have good soil.
Notice that the farmer does not strategically set a seed into the ground. Instead, the word of God is lavished indiscriminately to all people. When the seed lands what kind of soil will it find?