We are fast approaching harvest time once more when farmers will be out in their fields to gather the crops they have been sowing through the year. It is the final part of the growth of the crops when they are now fully mature and ready to be gathered. When the Lord Jesus was teaching around Judea and Galilee he told many parables about farming and harvest time to his disciples and others who listened to Him. These were stories that people living at that time could relate to and understood but they had a deeper spiritual meaning. This is one reason why people said that Jesus taught with authority not like the Pharisees because the Pharisees would not use pictures that people could understand. The Pharisees didn’t care whether common people understood or not whereas Jesus was different and spent His time on earth speaking to and teaching everyone who would listen to Him. He would cast no one out who came to Him.
I want to think about one parable in particular that Jesus taught about Harvest time, the parable of the sower. Found in Matthew 13 vs 3-9 (vs 18-23 contain the spiritual explanation).
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
After His disciples ask Him what it means, Jesus then explains the parable to them. The seed is Gods Word, the message of Gods kingdom, the gospel. The different soils are all different types of people found on earth with different reactions to the message of Jesus and His death on the cross. At the end of the age God is going to judge the world (i.e. everyone who has lived on earth) just like a farmer would review His crops at Harvest time. We sometimes think that in the bible Harvest is just a picture of a joyful celebration, we even sing ‘Bringing in the sheaves’ a harvest hymn. Harvest in the bible is a time of celebration but also a time judgment. In Revelation 14 for example the Harvest is a terrible time, the Lords ‘grapes of wrath’. This parable then contains a serious message that is important for us to hear today, as it tells us of Gods review of the human race in a future day. We need to understand this parable to know what the God of heaven thinks of us.
God judges us as the farmer judges the soils. It’s not about how good or bad we are or anything that we have done. We are all of us sinful, our good deeds are worthless to God. God measures us by our reaction to the seed and the crop that is produced. How do we react to the message of the gospel that Christ died for us? Four soils mean four reactions. One: The seed fell on hard ground. There are people who utterly reject Jesus, they don’t believe He is God and don’t obey His teachings, their hearts are hard. We can see plenty of people today who fall into this category. Two: Rocky ground, shallow soil, sprang up, no root, scorched by the sun. There are plenty of religious people in the world who would even claim to be Christians. They go to church, listen to the right music, occasionally read the bible, look the part. But have a shallow understanding, they don’t really believe and obey what Jesus says. Again, there are plenty of people across the world relying on being religious to please God. Three: Thorny soil, seed that begins to grow but is crushed by the thorns. Those who understand and want to follow Jesus but make excuses. Other things get in the way. Four: Finally the good soil, where the crops grow. Those who accept Jesus’ message and follow Him. The crop that grows is a picture of the character of Christ. God begins to make us like the Lord Jesus. We begin to act like Jesus through His Holy Spirit living within us transforming us.
The seed, Gods Word, the message of Gods kingdom, the gospel is this; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We are commanded to repent of our sins and trust in the Lord Jesus to save us as he died for us on the cross and has risen again. God is interested in our hearts. He wants us to love Him, to love and accept His Son. So the choice is up to us, which soil are we going to be? Will we accept Gods message and trust His Son? Earlier we saw the Harvest is a time of celebration in the bible and a time of judgment. For us as individuals it will be either one or the other. When God reviews our lives what soil will he find? Will we be with God in heaven forever (a time of celebration for the good soil)? Or will we be in hell (a place of judgment for the other soils)? The choice is up to us.