Other seeds fell among thorny soil. The thorns grew and choked the seeds. “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). Jesus explains that the thorny soil stands for hearts filled with thorns that choke the word. One kind of thorns is the “cares of the world.” Another kind of thorns is the “deceitfulness of riches.”
The word, “cares” (Gk. merimna), “anxiety, worry” (Gingrich), refer to the concerns, the worries, and the anxiety of this world. The concerns take many forms—the concerns for family and making money, the worries of building a career, as well as the demands of the job or business. All these choke the word in the distracted heart. If you no longer have the time to come to church or read your Bible because of your job, business, or travel, then these concerns choke the word in your heart.
The word, “deceitfulness” (Gk. apate), means, “deceptive desire.” (Gingrich) This kind of thorn is the deceptive desire caused by the love of money. Isn’t it true? The love of money causes many deceptive desires. This is the deceitfulness of riches.
There is the third enemy of the human heart—the flesh. The first enemy is the Devil. The second enemy is the world—the external tribulations and persecutions of the world. The third enemy here is the flesh—the internal concerns for the things of the world and the deceit of money. These thorns choke the word in the heart.
Thus, the thorny soil symbolizes the distracted heart. The distracted heart symbolizes people who profess to believe in Jesus. They profess to love Jesus, but they actually love money, not Jesus. They cannot resist the love of money. They profess to follow Jesus, but they actually follow this world. They say they receive Jesus. But they put the concerns of the world over Christ.
Hence, they fall away from Christ. They stop following Christ. In v. 22, Jesus says that the thorny soil is “unfruitful” in the end.