More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty. Psalm 93:4

The Parable of the Fruitful Church

 Jesus explained His parable of the sower found in Matthew 13. The seed is the word of the kingdom and the soil is the hearts of men. The seed that fell along the side of the road represented anyone who hears the word and does not understand it.  There was nothing of the heart that received the word. The seed that fell on rocky ground represented those who hear the word and rejoice in it but there is only temporary interest. When times get tough they fall away.  The seed that fell on ground full of thorns represented those who hear the word and seem to be firmly planted but there is never any fruit because the world has greater hold on their heart. The seed that fell on good soil represented those who hear and understand and their life produces fruit.

The parable is a masterful illustration of the ways in which the good news of Jesus is received or not received.  Jesus was very clear about what His parable meant. There is no question about its meaning.  As I read this parable afresh recently it made me think how it could help to illustrate another set of principles. If you allow the seed to represent pastors, the sower to represent Christ sending his called ones out into the world, and the soil to represent the churches where the pastors land, there is some application to be found.

The four kinds of soil can represent four kinds of churches. The churches represented by the soil that fell along the side of the road are those that do not understand what church is. The poor pastor who finds himself in one of these churches will not be there long.  The member’s hearts are hard, the church is dead, and no growth can be expected. The churches represented by the rocky soil receive their new pastor with joy, but the pastor will never please them. Try as he will to put down roots, the church will resist and will blame the pastor for any problems that arise. He is one church confidence vote away from being ousted.

You could characterize the churches represented by the soil full of thorns as those whose members love good fellowship but are involved in so many other endeavors that the pastor can never move them to any serious missionary action or to impact their community with the gospel in any significant way. The pastor who ends up in a church represented by the good soil will enjoy members who are ready to bear fruit for the kingdom. These are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and are a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. This pastor and church are the true church.

I know this isn’t the true meaning of the parable. It’s just where my mind went on the recent occasion of my reading.

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