Parents: This month, we focus on the parable of the farmer from Matthew chapter 13. Last week, we learned about the hard soil of the path, and this week we'll learn about the shallow, rocky soil.
Nikki and I enjoy gardening. It’s fun to dig into the soil, plant seeds, watch them grow, and eat a plentiful harvest of delicious vegetables. No store-bought produce will ever taste as good as something you’ve grown in your backyard. You also learn a lot about God and how He works with us. There were many times in the Bible where God compared people to soil and plants, like the parable of the farmer recorded in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. Stories like this come to life when you work with the soil.
Last year, we planted cucumbers, eggplants and tomatoes, but one of the crops I was most excited about was the zucchinis. I had heard many times that zucchinis grow like crazy and give you tons of fruit for your labor. As we planted the young plants in the soil, I was imagining a gigantic, delicious harvest and all the food we could make from it. Lasagna, vegetable pasta and omelets floated in my imagination as I poured the watering can over the freshly planted crop.
We did everything we could to give the plants the best chance at success. We enriched the soil with powerful (and expensive) all natural fertilizer and positioned them to get the most sunlight possible throughout the day. We kept away pests and fought off fungus from the leaves, which was hard work. We even tried to help pollinate some of the flowers, which is normally a job for the bees.
However, as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, we were disappointed at the outcome. Even with all that hard work, we only harvested two zucchinis from the crop. That’s right, only two. All the visions of omelets and lasagna vanished from my mind, replaced by frustration at these plants.
The summer heat grew stronger, and we had to water the plants more to keep them from wilting. Water is a valuable resource, especially during the dry summer days, and I was tired of wasting our precious water on these plants that weren’t going to produce anything for us. One day, I was so fed up I actually talked to the plants. I said, “I’ve had enough! I’m not wasting any more water or fertilizer on you. I’m going to let you die and use the soil for something else!”
From that day on, I stopped taking care of the plants, and they slowly died away. During all of this, I couldn’t help but think about the story Jesus told of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-9 and even the time He cursed a fig tree in Matthew 21:18-19. God makes it clear that we are like plants in His garden, and He is looking for fruit in our lives. The Holy Spirit brings the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), but we must live our lives in Christ, like a branch lives in a grape vine (John 15:1-8).
This week, we’re looking again at the parable of the farmer in Matthew 13 and focusing on the shallow, rocky soil. The seeds on that soil might sprout up quickly, but they’ll never produce any fruit. It’s hard and a little scary to take a look at ourselves and ask, “Is my heart like the shallow soil? Am I like the fig tree with no fruit?” The good news is, even if the answer to those questions is “yes”, God can change any heart and transform any life, all you have to do is ask Him. He promised in Ezekiel 36:26-27 that He will give His people new hearts and put His Spirit inside them. Remember, Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches.
John 15:1-17 | The Vine and the branches
CHAT WITH ME
1. Discuss what it means to have "fruit" in your life for God.
2. Discuss what it's like to live in Christ like a branch lives in a vine and produces fruit.