While reading this portion of Matthew, we notice something that was very typical of Jesus’ teachings. Often, when speaking to the crowds, Jesus would illustrate a point by telling a parable. And although He gave several parables in this 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus only interpreted the meaning of two. This is one of those parables…
Jesus said that there was a farmer who had scattered some seeds. These seeds had fallen on four different types of soil; and for the most part, the end result was not good. Explaining the symbolism of the story, Jesus said that the ‘seed’ represented the Word of God, and the ‘soil’ represented the vacant ground of the human heart. The “birds,” here, and in many illustrations to follow, represented the evil one, known as Satan.
For a fuller meaning of each “soil condition” – from the “hard path” to the “rocky soil,” from the “thorny ground” to the “good earth,” it would be good to study this passage more closely yourself. For now, we’ll focus on just one type of soil condition, one I think is more common than most of us realize. It’s referred to as the “thorny ground.” The weed infested heart. And Jesus said,
The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. ~ Matthew 13:22
Did you catch the middle of that verse? …all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life… so no crop is produced. Makes you think about your own ‘crop’ doesn’t it? It makes me wonder if my harvest of godliness is on its way to fullness or failure.
Let’s be real here. How many of us have allowed the cares of this life to throw a huge shadow, in effect, blocking the Son, and thus, stunting the growth of our crop? It’s easy to do! But it’s important that we not misunderstand, either. It’s not that we’re to have no concerns, no responsibilities. No. Jesus is simply warning that they shouldn’t come first, before our growing relationship with Him. We must never allow them to create a cloud of distraction from the face of our loving God.
There’s a danger in viewing God through the lens of our worries... through the fog of our problems. Jesus might have called it, “life in the weeds.” And if not attended to, weeds will always kill what’s good. We know that a life given to God is not a life free of struggles. Bad things happen. Jobs are lost. Children get sick. Fathers die. As a follower of Jesus, do these things disrupt my world? Yes. Do they change my life? Absolutely. Do they cripple my relationship with God? Only if I let them.
In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers put it this way:
Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life – without damaging our view of God’s character – we do not yet know Him.
The way I see it, those events that bully their way into my life are not only meant to teach me something about God, but just as importantly, to expose something about myself. Have I truly let go of the controls of my life? Have I actually acknowledged God as my Leader?
I believe that through every trial that comes my way, God wants me to unlearn something. To disassemble the way I’ve always done things. To eliminate my need for self-dependence. I must have a simple, child-like relationship with Him that says, You are God, and I trust You.
But first I have to truly know Him.