In Matthew chapter 13 there is the parable of the sower throwing seeds on the ground. It is a parable with little ambiguity or confusing metaphors. The seeds landed on four different types of ground. Some seeds landed on rocky ground, others thorny, some trampled, and the last landed on fertile soil. It is clear from the parable that only one seed produced fruit, and that is the seed that landed on fertile ground. In other words, only one out of four seeds produced anything, while the other seventy five percent came up fruitless.
In that same parable the Lord clearly states with those four seeds, some produced 100 fold of crops, others 60 fold of crops, while another produced 30 fold. And then He says, “Let those who have ears, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9). In the space of just several verses, Jesus is telling one of the most poignant parables in all of Scripture about the production of souls for the Kingdom of God, and how different it would be for some versus others concerning producing disciples. Truly a clear depiction of why some people live fruitful and abundant lives while others are largely spiritually sterile. So, the question is why? This is a very big WHY.
All know a seed thrown on a rock cannot bear fruit. The same with thorny, as if it even did take root, it would be choked and not grow before too long. The same is with the seed thrown on trampled ground having little chance for survival. But, the seed thrown on fertile ground can produce if the circumstances are right. The “why” of growth is complex, yet quite simple if the seed grows in the right soil.
The answer is partially in our pride and how we view Jesus. Is He a teacher, a philosopher, a prophet, Man, God, a revolutionary, a pacifist, a social reformer, a promoter of social justice, or other endless ways we view His message. The fact is, based upon His life, He came to change people, and He did it with a very simple message when He said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it cannot produce fruit” (John 12:24). Jesus is talking about death to self. Death to our pride in its so many or our world views we hold so dear. Death to the believer always needing to be right in circumstances that don’t really matter in the long haul of life. Death to the believer who is continually in discord with others dividing the body of Christ as they hold onto the pride of their belief system. Death to so many rigid believers thinking they have the sole possession of the Kingdom of God in their midst and everyone else is wrong, and death to the liberal who thinks the same. And if you do disagree with a proud person in many areas you are looked at like some juvenile belligerent child. Yes, we walk a fine line here indeed.
The fact remains in light of so many nuances of the gospel, some produce 100 fold, others 60, others 30, others 10, others 5, and other 0. We often fail to be disciples and all that entails because we believe we are the ones correct on matters of faith.
No matter the background, Jesus was able to touch a man like Matthew a tax collector, Peter Andrew, James and John — fishermen, a grinder like Zacchaeus, a wealthy man like Lazarus, a deep sinner like Mary Magdalene, and so the list goes on with people Jesus touched because He was first and foremost a fisher of souls. There are different sized hooks for different types of fish.
Jesus changed the world walking among the people. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Healing, teaching by the fire, walking in the rain and the sunshine from city to city, being the light on a hill, fasting, driving out demons, giving life to the woman at the well, an untouchable due to race, even pardoning the thief on the cross as Jesus saw his heart, not condemning the adulterous woman, but saying, “Go and sin no more.” His appeal was universal because He lived faith, and people were attracted to that. You cannot find Jesus arguing to make His point anywhere in Scripture. All you will get by arguing is an enemy, not a potential disciple.
We bring a lot intellectual baggage when meeting people expecting them to immediately change upon hearing from us. The model of Jesus changing the world by pouring His life into twelve men for three solid years day after day, month after month needs to be looked at much more seriously if we are to make headway with unbelievers – and thus change our culture. The way to reach the world is to first change ourselves and then one other. By touching one other, we can then transform the world. This is no easy task and takes training. God is love, and love conquers all.
The fact is the mission field is not Nigeria or the Amazon any longer. It is next door to you on your suburban or city street. We are fast approaching being a pagan state void of any resemblance to civility and normalcy from a generation or two ago. The key for bringing change is obedience to His message. Surrendering to your will. Not needing to be always projecting your opinions, but listening to the cry of the heart of another. Knowing when you are with someone who is hurting, you need to ask the Holy Spirit “What is the way to the heart of this person?” He will answer.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” The 20th century was marked by human progress in many forms. Science, medicine, technology, travel, flight, automobiles, engineering, and wide dissemination of information were all around us. Due to a spiritual abdication of faith by parents there was a neglect of the confessional and the teaching of faith. As a result we now see a generation going forward in despair. Our challenge is to change the paradigm. We need to be the only Bible people read if change is to take place.
Jesus, I Trust in You.