Jesus Feeding the 5,000

A daily devotion for May 13th

The Hard Heart

Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Matthew 13:18-19

The crux of the parable is the condition of the soils into which this seed is dropped. There are various kinds of soils upon which God's Word can fall. The soil is the human heart. Wherever the word is sown, four kinds of soil are usually present, four conditions of the human heart to which this word speaks. In any congregation, there are representatives of each of these four kinds of soil.

The trouble with this first heart is that the individual's heart is hard and narrow like a path beaten across a field. A path is hardened by the traffic of human feet as they cross the field. The problem is that it has grown hard; the word comes, but they do not understand it. The idea is not that they could not understand — they do not try. They don't take the time to understand. What kind of a heart is this? This could be called the materialistic heart, one that does not want to be bothered with thinking about anything beyond what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste.

This is a man rendered momentarily thoughtful by the word of the kingdom. Something has challenged him for the moment to think about God. For a moment he wonders, Maybe there is something to this. He has received a passing impression — requiring more thought, self-evaluation — but he does not want to be bothered. So he shrugs it off. Immediately, the enemy comes and snatches the thought out of his heart, and it never comes back. So he goes on untroubled, thinking that the world remains the way he has conceived it.

In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis describes a man who goes into the British Museum and sits down to read a book that is there. Something he reads suggests to him a thought about God, and he is inspired to think of him. For a moment it seems he will really think this idea through. But then Screwtape (the devil) diverts him with the thought that it is time for lunch — he would be in much better shape to tackle this important subject after he has eaten. Screwtape goes on to say, Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man's head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of 'real life' (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all 'that sort of thing' just couldn't be true.

This is the kind of soil Jesus is talking about. The devil brainwashes him. The thought is snatched away and it never returns again. Many are like that, settled for a world bounded on the North by their work, on the South by their family, on the East by taxes, and on the West by death. That is the whole of life to them. When the word of the kingdom falls upon that kind of heart, it causes a momentary impression. But it is immediately shrugged off as different, awakening the possibility of a world foreign to him. So he sets it aside, the enemy comes and takes it away, and it is gone.

Lord, in this frightful parable I see what my own heart was once like. Thank you for tilling the soil of my heart so that the seed of your word might go deep.

Life Application

Do I recognize what is going on in people's hearts when they are confronted with the truth? Do I pray that God would till and soften hard hearts?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Mystery of History

Listen to Ray