What Kind of Dirt Are You?

August 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables | 2 Comments
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Luke 8 contains what is usually called the Parable of the Sower or sometimes the Parable of the Soils, because Jesus described four different kinds of dirt.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:5

A farmer went out to plant his crop. As he was dropping his seeds to the ground, some of the seeds fell upon the place between the rows of the garden, or perhaps between distinct fields. These seeds did not fall on the soft, tilled part of the earth where they were intended to land, so they attracted birds that like to eat seeds.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:6

It’s doubtful that a farmer would intentionally drop seeds on rocks, but it would not have been uncommon for a farmer’s field in the ancient Near East to be located partially on a limestone substratum covered by a thin layer of soil. These seeds would sprout “plants-to-be” that couldn’t get their roots down to where the moisture was.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Luke 8:7

Other seeds fell in places where, before their roots could get down, neighboring weeds robbed their sunlight or water, and they, too, never really became plants.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:8

A novice Bible-reader, upon reading the Gospels for the first time, might wonder why there were so many people in the days of Jesus’s earthly ministry without ears. Obviously, we know it’s a figure of speech, but it does let us know that not everyone who heard Jesus’s parables were going to understand them. The parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the spiritual condition of the listener. Even beyond the principle of spiritual tone-deafness, though, you can test this out in a meeting of diverse individuals today. If you hold up a photograph and say, “Here’s a picture of Jason Witten stiff-arming a defensive back,” some people are going to perk up.

If you say, “Here’s a picture of a puppy dog sharing an ice cream cone with a little girl,” other people are going to perk up.

puppy sharing ice cream

They proabaly won’t all be the same people. Not everybody has “ears to hear” every kind of subject.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Luke 8:9-10

The parable of the dirt is not terribly difficult for modern readers to understand because the disciples were very helpful. They basically asked Jesus, “Okay, what are You trying to say?” This is what He meant by “those who have ears to hear.” It had been prophesied in the Old Testament that some people – primarily the hypocritical religious leaders – wouldn’t want to hear the truth, anyway, so God was going to increase their condemnation by teaching lessons that they wouldn’t comprehend unless they really wanted to know God.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

This was a very straightforward way of announcing that this parable would be clearly explained to the disciples.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Luke 8:12

Jesus explained why He told them about some of the seeds falling by the wayside, but He also let them know explicitly that, in this parable, the “dirt” is the human heart. That’s important to remember: As human beings we bear the image of God. However, in our humanity, we are “but dust” (Genesis 18:27; Psalm 103:14). We are framed from earth – we’re animated dirt! We are not anything special apart from God’s work and God’s image stamped upon us. Additionally, some people are so worldly and their hearts have been so trampled into hardness by the ways of the world, that the Word of God doesn’t penetrate. When someone tries to give it to them the devil (the birds of the parable) comes and snatches it away, and they have a double condemnation: they were too proud to care, and too hard to receive.

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Luke 8:13

The “light” here is exceptional in that it represents, in this instance, persecution instead of truth. Persecution, like intense sunlight, shrivels plants with no roots. This describes people who briefly appear to be converted to true saving faith, but then somebody makes fun of them for being a Christian or suggests that they might not grow in spiritual maturity like they should unless they come to Sunday School instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. They find things are getting too “hot” and they reveal that their hearts were just dirt-dusted rocks that only appeared to be real dirt.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 8:14

This third type of “dirt” can’t bring forth fruit because the thorns of worldly cares are choking out the place where the roots would go. These are people who love something in this world, and though they may think that they would like to add Jesus to it, they do not really believe that He is anything more than a life-improvement accoutrement.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Luke 8:15

Hopefully, Verse 15 is you. You’re just “dirt,” but at least you are real dirt – soft dirt – formerly hard ground that has been “broken” and has received the seed of the Word of God, so that you are not just “conformed” or “reformed” but “TRANSFORMED.” Has the seed in your heart come to fruition and actually changed your heart itself?

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  1. […] Reformers, or Transformers (Luke 5:36-39) 20. Obstacles, Others, and Ourselves (Luke 6:39-40) 21. What Kind of Dirt Are You? (Luke 8:5-15) 22. The Dirty Girdle (Jeremiah 13:1-11) 23. The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, […]

  2. […] made a mud pack from the dust of the earth (possibly reminiscent of the way God had used dirt to make Adam). Sometimes the mind makes strange connections. Years ago a singer named April March […]


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