Now that we’ve thought about seed, Jesus says to understand the growth of belief or the absence of growth, pay attention to the soil.
Some people live with arms already crossed and ears covered. If they were face-to-face with Jesus, they would turn the other way. Sometimes, perhaps, they have good reason. Their capacity to hear has been trampled by life. Other times they just refuse to listen. Whatever the case, the words of another kingdom do not take root.
Other people respond quickly. They hear that the kingdom of God is a happy place, and they are happy. But they missed the part where Jesus said that there would be persecution, that people who know God still get sick, still face death. When that happens, as it always will, they feel betrayed. They give up hope.
Other people respond and start growing. But they get distracted. Jesus talks about the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Keeping up with other people’s expectations can take all of our energy and we don’t have time to converse with God. Wealth can tell us that the way to happiness is more wealth. And soon, we can’t even hear the good news of the kingdom that we don’t have to live to keep up.
But, Jesus talks about a fourth group of people, who hear the news and receive the news and respond to the news. They expect resistance because Jesus said it would happen. They know that it takes work and trust. They grow.
And then those people start to break up the soil. They offer people new chances to survive the challenges of life. They call people back from their distraction.
If you are a farmer, plant seed. All the time. Prepare the soil, whenever you can. And know that the harvest isn’t up to you.
Because it’s not our kingdom, it’s God’s.