Matthew 13:23 (NIV)
23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Notice the qualities of this soil. Here is a heart that is neither hard and narrow nor flippant. He understands the word, i.e., he thinks about it, ponders over it. He receives it gladly but his life is not shallow. He bears fruit. The seed remains long enough to sprout and grow and to come to fruition.
Finally, his fruit is not lost in a jumble of things, the thorns and thistles of life, but he brings forth varying amounts—thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. This three-fold division, which Jesus gives, is amplified in other parts of the Scriptures to illustrate the stages or the phases of the Christian life.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The key point of this whole parable is that the only one of these four hearts, which is genuinely Christian, is the fourth one. The sowing is not salvation. Nor is the hearing of the word. Many hear, but they are not Christians. Even the sprouting of the seed is not salvation. Salvation is seen when the fruit comes. Fruit appears when the will is genuinely yielded to the lordship of Christ, when the Word is welcomed and nourished and acted on and allowed to grow to fruition.
What are you like when the word of the kingdom, with its promise of power and of righteousness, falls on your heart?
What is your heart like then?"
It is possible, if it is in any of these unsatisfactory conditions—hard or shallow or distracted or resistant in any way—for your heart to be brought to God because God is able to change it, whatever its condition. He is the Creator. He is able to break up the hard heart.
As the word of God falls upon us, the question each of us must ask is, “What is my heart like now?”
And with that, Jesus leaves this parable with us, for us to answer that question in the depths of our hearts.