– The seed that landed on hard-trod dirt paths would never germinate. It would be pulverized by feet on their way to other places; it would become tasty bird food.
– The seed that landed on cool, moist rock would sprout feathery roots and a baby stem in the warm sun. That sun would then proceed to bake the tiny plant dry.
– The seed that landed in weedy, thorn-filled soil would be like a ballerina in a cage match, beaten senseless with sharp jabs before she was choked to death.
– The seed that landed on rich, loamy soil would grow and multiply until the black earth was transformed into an emerald ocean ready for the harvest.
It was obvious that only seed sown on good soil would become a part of a harvest. Some of Jesus’ hearers may have questioned that part in His story about a yield from that good field of thirty, sixty or a hundred times, when the best any of them could ever dream of was a yield maybe six or seven times greater than what they’d planted.
Later, alone with His disciples, Jesus explained the meaning of this story first by telling them that they indeed had ears to hear. The seed is the word of God, He said. Sown extravagantly, He knew that much of His precious word was going to land in the lives of those who weren’t prepared to receive it:
A glorious “but” came at the end of His explanation. “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15). Soil is productive both because it is a hospitable environment for the seed and because it can sustain growth through to harvest time.