Not Meant to Understand: Soil, Wrestling, and the Seed of the Gospel

In an assignment for the Six Acts course, student Zoe reflects on the story of scripture and what it means to be a willing participant in God’s story.

“The parable is designed to confound and perplex. The parable is a form of teaching that is provocative and difficult. It is not a teaching method that is supposed to bring surface clarity to the material. In fact, the parable often confounds the reader to even more wrestling, but that is the point.” (Marty Solomon, Bema Discipleship Podcast, ep.110)

This was the line that made me realize that the gospel Jesus preached across Galilee was not necessarily meant to be understood by everyone who heard it. The Kingdom of God is like a seed full of life-giving nutrients that is planted in all kinds of soil, waiting to grow. All different types of soil will receive the same seed but not all will be proper for it to flourish into a great crop ready to be harvested. This analogy is deepened by the parable of the Sower found in Luke 8, Matthew 13, and Mark 4. Parables were catered to the ones who engaged, wrestled, and dug deep to bring forth the Kingdom. They are not necessarily for those who simply wanted the Kingdom given to them.

Now the parable of the Sower is less about the Sower, who is Jesus, but about what type of soil is being cultivated in the lives of the listener. Yet more often than not we fall into believing that we are the gardener of the soil. In the Bema Discipleship Podcast we have been following in the Six Acts course, Marty Solomon says, “‘Well, you know, you’ve just got to go out and sow seed. Some people are going to be ready to hear it and some people aren’t.” It’s like, “This is not about you sowing the seed.” Jesus makes that clear. God is the one that sows the seed.” God is the gardener. The parable invites us to humbly expect that we are the soil, and we must desire to get messy and dig our roots deeper in order to find the good soil God longs for all of us to be.

In Matthew, Jesus describes the first three types of soils and how they have all fallen short of furthering the Kingdom. They do this by looking for easy answers and not wanting to change their minds and ways. However, Jesus calls each of these soil types into action. They are invited to be transformed to prevent their seed from lying dormant, and instead to flourish into the life-giving crop they were meant to be.

The good soil we are to cultivate in our lives is where I continue to wrestle. How one can bring it forth and keep plowing the soil in one’s life that continually needs change? I think the story of Jacob we briefly talked about in first term is a model of the good soil. “They are “in it”, Jacob had chutzpah, he wrestled with God and God wants us to be in his story.” (Six Acts class, Oct 23, 2023). “…God will take somebody with a little bit of spirit, a little bit of fire. He can take somebody who is moving and the one who wants it. He is going to take Jacob with his chutzpah.” (Marty Solomon, Bema Discipleship Podcast, ep.14). These quotes describe how Jacob lived a life of rocky and thorny soil. While he did this, he continually broke up his unplowed soil to make good soil while stumbling along the rocks and roots, wrestling with who and what God was calling him to be. Therefore, good soil is something we are always cultivating to allow the seed to bring forth life when it’s ready for harvest.

The Kingdom of God will be understood by the one who is willing to get their hands dirty, to prepare good soil for the seed to grow in. Jesus invites his listeners to be aerated soil that is ready to receive the life-giving seed, not waterlogged soil that will drown it out. I am left wondering if our generation will be ready to get their hands dirty for this seed.

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