18 “So listen to the parable of the planter:
19 When anyone hears the message about the coming kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been planted in his heart. This is what was planted along the path.
20 As for what was planted on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the message and immediately receives it with joy,
21 yet he has no internal root, so stays true for a while, but when troubles or opposition arise on account of the message, he falls away right then.
22 As for what was planted among thorns, this is the one who hears the message, but the worries of the age and the untrustworthiness of riches choke the message, and it becomes unfruitful.
23 As for what was planted on good soil, this is the one who hears the message and understands it. He really bears fruit and produces, in one case a hundred times as much, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
when good seed goes wrong
The evidence seems to suggest that the first major evangelistic campaign of the Jesus and his disciples was less than successful. Although the witness to Jewish Galilee was accompanied by powerful miracles, the region ultimately rejected the good news of the coming kingdom. This is why Jesus condemned the major cities who had been the recipients of that evangelistic campaign.
Part of what Jesus is doing here, with his explanation of the parable of the planter, is defending the evangelistic work against possible charges that it – or the message itself – is to blame for the failure. All the seed (at least in this parable) is good, proper seed. Neither the planter nor his methods are at fault.
No, the fault of failed evangelism in this case is with the recipients. They had three major defects which rendered their soil incapable of producing a harvest.
- They lacked the understanding necessary for the truth to remain.
- They lacked the internal fortitude to withstand the pressure of opposition.
- They lacked the wisdom to focus on their future, and were distracted by present worries and passions.
LORD, as your servants, we pray for a good harvest in all our evangelistic efforts, but if that does not happen, help us to trust you and keep proclaiming the message.
 Matthew 11:21-24.