Jesus often spoke in parables. A parable was an earthly story with a spiritual lesson. It was used to hide truth from people who really didn’t want to find or hear truth. It was also used to reveal truth to those who really christian mysticism truth. Large crowds often came to Jesus, but everyone did not accept or respond positively to His teaching. People had different motives for coming to Jesus: some people wanted to be healed; some wanted someone else to be healed (a friend, a son, a daughter as examples); some wanted to be fed; some wanted to see a supernatural sign.
This parable deals with four possible places where seed fell. Some seed fell on the path and was eaten by birds. Some seed fell on rocky places where there was a lack of soil. Some seed fell among thorns and was choked by the weeds. Some fell on good soil and produced a good crop. The aim of this parable is to communicate truth. Jesus makes that clear when He says that he who has an ear let him hear. Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. The mind gives us an intellectual understanding of words, but it is the Spirit who gives us the real understanding of God’s truth.
The message, as was interpreted by Jesus, is the message of the kingdom – truths about the reign of God, God’s plan, purpose and salvation. In His interpretation, Jesus identified four types of people.
The Indifferent Christian
Jesus described the seed that fell on the path as the person who does not understand. In reality, this person’s heart is so hard that he doesn’t want to understand. There are many people who hear the word, but don’t receive it. The Word must be accompanied by faith, for without faith, the Word lacks the ability to transform lives. In church, some people hear the Word, but they don’t take the time to understand the Word. They are not open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We can harden our own hearts and take the Word for granted. We can shut out the preacher and focus our minds elsewhere. We can shut down the message because it is not dealing with what we want to hear. Some of us want to hear how God is going to bless us, but we really don’t want to hear a strong kingdom message that calls us to radical discipleship, to real commitment to Jesus. We can easily become like the church at Laodicea in the book of Revelation where Jesus was standing on the outside, knocking to get in.
The Superficial Christian
Jesus described the rocky place as the person who receives the word with joy, but when troubles, persecution and testing come, he quickly falls away. These types of persons show no consistent commitment, but rather practice convenient Christianity. They are dominated by emotionalism, that is, they like a lot of feel good messages and feel good experiences – singing, dancing, shouting; if these things are not happening, they feel that the Spirit of God is not moving. These experiences have value when they are prompted by faith and the leading of the Spirit.
These persons walk by sight, not by faith; they walk by the flesh, not by the Spirit. Worship, therefore, is polluted by self and is not dominated by the kingdom of God. In other words, it really is about me and how I feel and not about God and His purpose. These types of Christians are always ready to give up or to leave the church. They are up and down Christians who don’t value the things that are important to God and to the kingdom of God such as prayer, study and meditation of the Word, evangelism, and the fellowship of the saints. For these Christians, there is no real depth, spiritual maturity, or radical transformation by the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are simply Christians who come to church when they feel like, but contribute little or nothing to the accomplishing of God’s mission through the church.
The Worldly Christian
Jesus described this person as one who hears the word, but worries, greed and pleasures prevent him from truly maturing. Christians like these are obsessed with money: they are dominated by the love of money. They have a hard time taking the step of faith to tithe and to give sacrificially to God. If God has your wallet, he will have your heart: God is Lord where persons commit their time, talent and treasure to Him, where people commit their entire lives to Him. Worldly Christians are always looking to get something: they are the kind of Christians that come to church to see what they can get, rather than to see what they can give; their focus is on being “blessed,” rather than on being a blessing.