The Parable of the Sower

Jesus gave us the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9 “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: ‘Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.   Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.   But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.  But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.   He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’”  I picture the sower as a man with a pouch of seeds.  He reaches into his pouch, grabs a handful of seeds, and with a sweep of his arm, he throws the seeds in a semi-circle in front of him.  He is not extremely accurate with the seeds he has thrown, so some seeds fall on the hard packed path, some among the rocks, some among the weeds and finally some on the good ground that he has prepared for his crop.

Jesus gave the meaning of the parable in Matthew 13:18-23 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.  But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.   Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.  But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  The sower would be anyone who preaches or tells someone about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We need not be careful who we tell about Jesus, because we do not know the kind of heart that person may have.  It may be sooner or later that the seed (the gospel) will bear fruit.  The Holy Spirit can work in the heart of that person to believe.  Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Now let us look at the various types of hearts that receive the message of the gospel.

The wayside is hard packed ground.  So the seed sown by the wayside sits on the top of the ground where the birds can easily come by and eat the seed.  This is like a person who hears the word but does not understand what he has heard or doesn’t care about the message.  Perhaps he is so involved in his sinful life that he is not open to the gospel.  For whatever reason, the devil comes and takes away the word from his heart and perhaps convinces the person that the message is not true or it is not something he needs to waste his time on.

The stony places are mostly rocks and very little soil.  The seed begins to grow, but because of the lack of soil, the roots grow very little.  The plant receives very little nourishment from the soil and cannot draw up much water when it is hot during the day; therefore it soon dies.  Jesus said that is like one who experiences trials or persecutions in his life and quickly gives up.  He does not appreciate the need for patience and endurance to receive the promises of God, so he loses his faith and goes back to the ways of the world.

The place of thorns or weeds is perhaps good soil, but the plant that grows must compete for water, sunshine and soil nutrients with the weeds that grow around it; so it doesn’t produce fruit.  Jesus said that is like the one who has many worldly cares and desires for the riches of this world.  I’m afraid that many believers today are like this type of seed.  They believe the gospel and are baptized; they continue coming to the church assemblies.  But they are so involved in the things of this world that they don’t produce fruit for God or no fruit to perfection (Luke 8:14).

The final type of soil is good ground.  The seed enters the ground, quickly germinates, puts down roots into the soil and a healthy plant grows up.  Over time, with the help of the nutrients of the soil, good water, and plenty of sunshine, the plant matures and bears fruit – some plants produce a lot and some not so much.  Here is what is recorded in Luke 8:15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”  When a believer has a noble and good heart and keeps the word, with patience he can indeed bear fruit for God.  May God send us those with noble and good hearts!

What kind of soil are you?  What kind of heart do you have?  Certainly you don’t want to be like the one who hears the word but lets the devil take the word out of your heart so that you never believe.  Nor do you want to be like the one who hears and believes but as soon as tribulation and persecution come your way you lose your faith.  Do not be like the one who hears and believes but still has a strong desire for the things of this world or gets entangled with the cares of this world so that you never produce fruit for God.  Instead, I encourage you to be one who believes the message, puts it into practice in your life and has a desire to serve your God and Savior so that with patience you produce great fruit in your life for God.