Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
This parable of Christ vividly describes the various minds into which the gospel seed is sown, and the various categories represent the different attitudes of the hearers. After Jesus was finished presenting the parable to the people, the disciples came to Him privately to have an explanation to the many questions that had arisen in their minds. This first attitude displayed by the disciples tell us a whole lot about which category of hearers they fell into. They were not satisfied to merely hear a good parable without understanding it properly, and this same disposition will be manifested in all "good hearers", for the sincere and honest in heart will never rest until the truths that are brought home to their hearts are thoroughly understood. Christ therefore gave the disciples the explanations they sought, beginning with the first category who did not understand the gospel. Let's read:
Matthew 13:19 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.
One of the reasons why the first category of hearers did not "understand" the gospel is because they did not, like the disciples, take the time to thoroughly investigate the scriptures. Maybe the themes of salvation and eternal life did not mean much to them, and so the devil came along and filled their minds with other issues insomuch that the good news of salvation made only a momentary impression on their minds.
The second set of hearers are those who receive the gospel on an emotional level because it sounds good. The gospel that is generally being presented today centers for the most part on wealth and prosperity, and to millions of people, it sounds good. Now it is true that the gospel of salvation is indeed good, however the requirements of self-surrender, self-denial, discipline, and obedience are routinely put on the back burner by the stony ground hearers, and not brought into the equation, so that when hardships arise because of the gospel, many become offended and turn their backs permanently on God. Let's read:
Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
The Bible teaches that the true gospel will ultimately place a person at logger heads with the devil, and will consequently initiate a fierce internal and external struggle against the lusts, cravings, and evil desires of our fallen nature. That's why The Lord Jesus spoke on occasions of self-denial, and persecution that will arise in the Christian's life from time to time. Let's read:
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
The third category of hearers are those who actually accept the Gospel, but the cares of this life and an inordinate desire for gain cause them to lose their balance. A true Christian will be a diligent worker if he can work, for the Bible teaches us to do whatever work that comes to us, with all our might. However, those in the third category apparently do not strike a balance between the temporal concerns of life and the far more important realities of eternity, and so over time, their love and service to God is supplanted by an all-consuming desire to succeed in this world. This particular attitude towards the perishable things of this world, God has repeatedly warned us of. Let's read:
Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
1st John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The last category of hearers in the parable are those who are honest seekers for truth, who carefully weigh the pros and cons of the Christian life in an objective manner, and then make a deliberate, well thought out decision to follow Jesus Christ all the way. Their decision is not based on emotion, nor on the fleeting accolades of the majority. Neither is it based on a guarantee from God that everything will go smoothly in this life, or that He will deliver out of every trial. Their attitude reflects the thinking of Job, who said "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Their disposition is also echoed in the experience of the three Hebrew boys who said "Our God whom we serve can deliver us, but even if He chooses not to, we will not bow", in other words, if we have to suffer loss in standing up for the principles of righteousness, then so let it be, but under no circumstances are we going to be applauded or bullied into doing evil. These "Good hearers" never turn back once they have covenanted to serve God, and to them is the promise given that they will certainly inherit eternal life. Let's read:
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
It is our sincere prayer and hope that we all may be a part of the fourth category of hearers, those who understand the true gospel and decide by the grace of God, to follow Jesus all the way. In our lives we will have sunny days and rainy days, there will be hills and valleys, there will be stunning victories and deep disappointments, but in and through all we can learn the most valuable lesson of trusting God in all of the vicissitudes of life. We therefore end with a passage of scripture that should serve to encourage us to a sturdy, unbending faith in the living God. Let's read:
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May this mindset pervade our thinking for the rest of our lives. "Good night" and God bless!