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The Parable of the Soils – Part 5 – Unfruitful Soil

The Sower - Van Gogh


And others (seed) fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up (with it) and choked them out (and it yielded no crop).

And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word and (as they go on their way), the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches (and the desires for other things) choke the word, (they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life,) and it becomes unfruitful (bring no fruit to maturity). (From: Matthew 13:7,22, Mark 4:7,18, Luke 8:7,14 NASB – see comments below)

Just a bit more on this third soil type.

Friday I started with the thorns, but today I want to start with the results and work backwards.

Thorns are really tricky, because they do not stunt your growth. In drive by mode, the causal observer will look at a plant that is growing among the thorns see no issue with this healthy looking foliage.

It reminds me of the fig tree that Jesus visited the day after His big entrance into Jerusalem.

And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. (Matthew 21:19 NASB)

Jesus was not just being grumpy. I am told that on fig trees the leave grows after the fig appears to protect the fruit from the sun.

So Jesus came up to the fig tree that showed the signs of maturity, and fruitfulness expecting to receive a harvest, and found none.

The end of the fig tree is rough. In Matthew’s telling it withered ‘at once’ in Mark 11 they are walking by the next day and find it withered from the root.

What I want you to hear beloved, is that unfruitfulness is a big deal, thus these thorns, these distractions, are a big deal. [Tweet This]

I don’t want you to start a door to door search in your life and spend the next 10 hours weeping and bemoaning your unfruitfulness – that would be – well – unfruitful. There is a really simple solution to the thorn (distraction) problem.

In the words of Helen H. Lemmel, written in 1922 (1)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See you tomorrow when we see what good soil looks like.


(1) - Lyrics for Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus can be found at

* The 3 passages have been interwoven using colors to show which passage each word originates from. I have not added anything, just pulled from the NASB in each case. Red text is from Matthew, green from Mark and blue from Luke.

0 thoughts on “The Parable of the Soils – Part 5 – Unfruitful Soil

  1. Chris

    Hi. Can I ask what fruitfulness is? Is it bringing people to Jesus? Because I have never done that. Or is it the fruit of the spirit? Even then I am not what i should be. Sometimes it all gets a bit disheartening. Jesus says things that are hard to hear.

    1. Ben Nelson


      that is such a good question, and I so agree, Jesus says things that are hard to hear. I find a part of me that wants to say - don't sweat any of it because fruit is the job of the Holy Spirit's work in your life, it's not your job, but Jesus says so much about it. As i look at these parables, i am drawn back to this again.

      Ok - to answer your question, i believe the fruit that The Lord produces in us and through us is both that of inner Character - fruit of the Spirit, and through that change and growth, and through your growing passion for the Lord others will be drawn.

      As you relate to those the Lord puts in your path the great things He has done in and for you, you are planting, or watering, or nurturing what the Lord is doing in others.

      I believe we are all called at some level to do evangelism, but that might be more subtle than standing on street corners (nothing wrong with that - but not everyone has that gift or calling - including many who are out doing it)

      So - i am afraid the answer is both, but again fruitfulness in the context of this parable is not the job of the soil - it is the job of the soil to get free of encumbrances to growth, like rocks and thorns, and leave the growing and fruit to the vine.

      If you look at John 15 it talks about Jesus as the vine and us as branches bearing fruit. The cure there (just like in this parable) to becoming more fruitful is pruning - getting rid of the stuff that distracts us from Him.

      So, my simple - guilt trip free method - is to keep our eyes on Jesus. He (through the Holy Spirit) will highlight things in your life that get in the way of growth if you let Him.

      I hope that helps.


  2. Chris

    Thank you, your reply is really helpful. I hadn't understood that in this context my role is to look at the soil, and see what are the rocks and thorns that are stopping fruit growing in my life. It's true - I need to look on Jesus again.

    1. Ben Nelson

      That's right Chris, we tend to put pressure on ourselves to produce fruit, but it is called the fruit of the Spirit after all.

      Thanks for stopping in and being open about your questions. I am sure you are not the only one scratching your head.

  3. Debbie

    I loved the ending to your post! Great job, Mr. Ben. And I also loved your responses to Chris and Sis Caddo too. You are doing good with this. Thank you for using the gifts He has given you.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Thanks for the encouragement dear deb! I appreciate it a bunch. I wrote this series on vacation, and felt like it flowed really well, but you never know. I am always encouraged when questions are raised, or people stop and think again about something they have heard either once or 1000 times.

      I am glad to be on this bus, and in the right seat (here using gifts God has so given)

      thank you again.



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