THE PARABLE OF THE FOUR TYPES OF SOILS

Mathew 13:1-9 and 18-23

  • What were the four types of soils where the seed fell?
  • Why did the seed not grow on the footpath? Mention the characteristic feature of the footpath?
  • What was the problem with the seed which fell on rocky ground and among thorns?
  • Why did the seed on the good soil grow and produce a good yield? What are the characteristics of a good soil that allows the seed to grow and bear fruit?
  • Even though all the seeds were of the same quality, why did their outcomes differ?
  • In the spiritual context, what are the types of people the four types of soil represent?
  • Discuss the factors that may be hindering us today from opening our hearts completely to the Lord Jesus, and being fully committed to Him. Pray and ask the Lord to help us overcome these hindrances and be fully open and surrendered to Him.

Leader’s notes

Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23, describes the varied responses to the Gospel. Although the seed is the same, the outcomes are different. Our lives are shaped by our choices. We can choose how we could respond to the message.

The different places where the seed fell were the footpath, the rocky ground, the thorny soil, and the good, prepared soil.

The footpath is hardened by people constantly walking on it. It is not the ground suitable for cultivation, whereas the rocky ground has only a thin layer of soil. The seed sprouts but when scorched by the sun, it does not get enough moisture, as the roots have not penetrated deep. The seed among thorns also sprouts, but cannot compete with the thorny plants, which strangles the good plants.

The good soil is a prepared soil. The farmer first ploughs the land to remove the weeds and stones. He applies enough manure and waters the field, so that it gave the right environment for the seed to grow. Although the seed was of the same quality, the outcome was different because the soils on which they fell were diverse.

The four types of soil represent the various kinds of people who listen to the Gospel.

The seed which fell on the footpath represents people whose hearts have been hardened, they fail to understand, and Satan takes away what they have heard. 2 Corinthians 4: 4 says that, the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

The seed that fell on the rocky ground represents those who receive the Word eagerly, but their commitment is superficial. Their lives are shallow and, their spiritual lives on a decline. Since their threshold is low, when difficulties and persecutions arise, they easily give up.

The seed which fell among the thorns represent those people who make a beginning in their Christian lives. However, as the days go by, the lure of worldly things, the desire for success, popularity, prestige, wealth and fame, overpower their spiritual commitment, and their love for the things of God gradually fades away. They might have been very keen in the first year of student life, but after they graduate and start their careers, their love for God gradually grows cold.

The seed that fell on the good ground is like those who hear the message and respond with a sincere heart. They make a decision to follow Christ and persevere, in spite of difficulties. They seek to grow by zealously keeping their personal times with God, and seek the fellowship of other believers. They seek to obey God in all the decisions of life, especially in the choices of a career and a life partner. Their constant prayer is,” Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true….”

It is primarily a lack of a deep-rooted commitment to God that can be sustained by a regular time of communion with Him.

Looking at other people, who seem to be successful in the worldly sense, the pressure from family and friends to conform to their standards and a love for prestige, power and position, may all contribute to not bearing fruit.

We must pray that we may have a sincere and believing heart and seek God wholeheartedly, and that we may be faithful and fruitful to Him throughout our lives.