When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (Matt 13:19)
This shows us how important it is to understand God’s words. The things we hear and don’t understand are easily taken away and discarded. This also suggests how important it is to teach the gospel plainly and simply.
When I was reading this from the parable of the sower, I also started to see that the four types of ground not only illustrates four different ways that different people respond to the word of God, but also illustrates the obstacles we are all up against to receive it.
The first obstacle, of course, is understanding it. The Lord tries to make this obstacle as small as possible by making the gospel simple and easy to understand because if we don’t understand, we lose it really fast.
The second obstacle is tribulation and persecution. If we can’t stay steadfast, we lose our place in the kingdom and the gospel seems like a fair-weather philosophy. (Thank goodness it is not though.; it can get us through hurricanes.)
The third obstacle is competing concerns of the cares of the world and the temptation for gain and riches, which can certainly steal our energy and commitment—“choking the word.”
The fourth obstacle is simply us and our limitations and weaknesses.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matt. 13:23)
Bearing fruit thirty or sixty-fold doesn’t seem like a problem or an obstacle, but if the goal is bearing a hundredfold, we see there is still some obstacle in the way. Maybe it isn’t really a limitation in us; maybe the obstacle has to do with how much seed we sow and grow. Maybe there is something about the law of the harvest here. The fourth obstacle we have to overcome is lack of commitment, which determines how much we put into obedience and discipleship.