We all love a good story. Whether it’s a movie or book, stories have the ability to move us in ways other forms of communication can not.

There have been a lot of of good story tellers throughout history. Yet, none better than Jesus. Jesus was the master storyteller. In fact, nearly one third of the words of Jesus recorded in scripture were stories. More accurately called ‘parables’, these stories use every day examples to reveal eternal truths.

Parables have the unique ability to transcend space and time. You see, in Jesus’ stories, you don’t just encounter characters, you are a character. You’re not just reading “a” story, it’s “your” story. Each micro story Jesus tells, is a micro story of your life.

Want to know where you fit in God’s story?  Here’s your script.

In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus tells the gathered crowd a story we call today “The Parable of the Sower.” In this story, Jesus seems to be addressing a common question of the day, “are we good with God, or not?…Are we really a part of this Kingdom of God you speak of?”

Jesus didn’t want anyone to miss the mark. He wanted to be clear. He wants everyone, everywhere, to know exactly where they stand with God. You included. The problem Jesus reveals is that most people claim they have a right standing with God simply because they’ve HEARD the good news about God.

In this parable, Jesus says that it’s not those who simply hear the message of the gospel that are a part of the family of God, but rather its those that HEAR & RESPOND appropriately.

The focus of the parable is not so much on the seed, but on the soil. And as I mentioned earlier, we all must find ourselves in this story, because its not just “a” story, its “our” story.

Here’s the main idea Jesus is getting at: You’re either spoiled soil, or loyal soil.

There are 4 types of soil, representing 4 types of responses to the good news of Jesus.

1) Rock – This person is hard headed, and even harder hearted. They’ve heard about salvation and new life in Jesus, but they continually choose not to respond with faith or following.

2) Shallow Soil – This person hears the gospel and responds initially with joy! For instance, in many church circles this person has said a prayer, walked an aisle, gotten dunked, or gotten saved. All these denote an initial response. But, this person never grew any deep roots. They have a shallow faith that barely sprouts and produces no future fruit.

As a pastor I’ve seen several of these “fair-weather followers”. After all, who doesn’t want to be saved from their sins and punishment in an eternal place of Hell? Who wouldn’t want eternal life and a home in heaven when they die? Who wouldn’t want help, support, guidance in this life?

Here’s the problem. Jesus never promises us that following him will be easy. In fact, he affirms that all who follow him will face many troubles and persecutions…but to take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)!

Those who have shallow roots, tend to pull up roots quickly when the going gets tough. When Jesus calls them to weed out sin in their life, they would rather not. When they face difficulty because of their faith, they decide this Jesus thing must not be for them. And pretty soon, they wither and die, proving their initial response of faith was nothing more than fleeting emotion.

Jesus warns. You can’t produce fruits without deep roots.

3) Weed Infested Soil – This person hears the gospel of Jesus, responds in faith, and begins to grow deep roots. The problem is that they have allowed so many other things to take root and grow alongside that they shade out and choke out the power of the gospel in their life.

Jesus alludes to worry, wealth, and work. Isn’t it funny that the more times change, the more they stay the same? People 2000 years ago were struggling to pursue Jesus in the very same ways we do today. As such, an initial faith response is shaded and choked out by other desires, to the point where they no longer are faithful to their initial decision to pursue Jesus.

Jesus’ equation looks like this: faithfulness leads to fruitfulness.

What does the faithful, fruitful, Christian life actually look like? Jesus says we will know a disciple of Jesus not by the seed, not by the soil, not by the sprout, but by the fruit! Paul gives a pretty good description of the fruit filled life in Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

If the seed of the Spirit is rooted in us, then we can’t help but produce the fruits of the Spirit. After all, have you ever planted an apple seed and gotten anything other than an apple as fruit? Of course not. If the right type of seed is sown, watered, fertilized, and weeded…it will reach the harvest time bearing the right kind of fruit.

Simply put…followers of Jesus will look more and more like Jesus each and every day. Step by step, day by day, we take on the fruits of the Spirit.

Your fruit will prove your root. What kind of fruit grows on your tree?

4) Good Soil – This person hears the gospel, responds with joy, grows deep roots that produce good fruits, and…reproduce a harvest! In Jesus parable, this fourth and final response is the only kind of response to the gospel that saves.

I grew up in a farming family, working every summer alongside my dad, uncle, and grandfather. Consider the process a farmer undergoes to produce a crop. They prepare the soil. Then they plant the seed. Then they pray for the right weather and circumstances for the seed to grow. And finally, it sprouts!

But, the farmer knows that his work is a long way from finished when the seed sprouts. All the effort he put in wasn’t to get a sprout, it was to get a harvest. The harvest is where you have a full grown crop, full of produce, with enough good produce that you are able to set back a portion in granaries to seed next year’s crop. The goal is produce, so you can reproduce.

Jesus wants us to understand that the focus of the Christian life isn’t only a pursuit of personal holiness. The real focus of the follower of Jesus is to produce fruit that reproduces followers. I once heard it said best…“Your fruit will grow on other’s trees.”

So, where do you find yourself in this story? What kind of soil are you? What do your roots look like? What does your fruit look like?

Here’s the beauty of your story…the end is not yet written. How it ends is up to you. If you need to make some changes in your life, its never too late.

Respond to the good news of Jesus today. Start growing deep roots that produce good fruits. Do the hard work of weeding out anything that could possibly choke the life out of your pursuit of Jesus. Reproduce followers of Jesus.