It’s fascinating to read the parables of Jesus because there always seems to be something new that comes from it. That’s how I feel about the parable of the sower.
The parable is simple: the sower (Christ) scatters his seed generously and it ends up on four different types of terrain.
Some land on 1) the side of the road, 2) some on rocks, 3) others in thorny soil and; 4) some in good soil. The first three groups of seed die and the seed planted in the good soil flourishes.
Jesus shares that the sower scattered seed (the Word of God) on all types of ground. It didn’t say that he was meticulously planting the seeds in designated ‘good soil’ areas – it says he was scattering the seed everywhere.
Doesn’t that seem wasteful though? I mean, if I were planting a field, why would I throw seed on rocks, thorns, and the side of the road? Wouldn’t you want to be careful and put the seed in the good soil from the beginning?
The meaning of the parable of the sower is twofold:
- To show that Christ came to share the Word of God with everyone. We don’t serve a stingy God who picks and chooses who is good enough to hear the word. He graciously sows into everyone who is willing to accept his word.
- To show us how the different soils in our life can keep us from sharing God’s truth with others.
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The “sower” sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the “deceitfulness of riches” and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
‘Some Fell Along the Path’
This is the ‘in one ear, out the other’ crowd. Picture a middle-eastern road hardened by years of travel by men and animals. What happens to the seed when it falls here? It sits out in the open for the birds to come and get it. If we don’t take God’s Word seriously, that’s the soil we’re representing.
‘Some Fell On Rock’
These people know the Word of God, but when they’re tested, they collapse. They have no root. They’re not planted deep enough in the soil, so God’s Word hasn’t truly become their foundation. It’s a superficial faith that springs up when times are good. But when the heat comes, just like the sun on a hot day, the small seedling that shot up on the rock will wither and die for lack of soil and water.
‘Other Seed Fell Among Thorns’
They hear the word, but do nothing with it. They know the word, but don’t truly accept it. They teach it, but don’t practice it. If we’re not earnestly seeking the Word of God, it leads to indifference about devotions and relationship with him.
The message to the “Sower”, from Jesus:
“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them…blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Those who would receive instruction from Christ must know and consider what a privilege it is to be instructed by him, what a distinguishing privilege to be led into the light, such a light, when others are left in darkness, such a darkness.
The heart of man is as soil to the seed of God’s word; it is capable of receiving it, and bringing forth the fruits of it; but, unless that seed be sown in it, it will bring forth nothing valuable. To what purpose have we the seed in the scripture, if it be not sown? And to what purpose have we the soil in our own hearts, if it be not sown with that seed?
The success of the seeding is very much according to the nature and temper of the soil, and as that is, (or is not), disposed to receive the seed. The devil is a subtle and spiteful enemy, that makes it his business to hinder our profiting by the word of God. He takes the word out of the hearts of careless hearers, lest they should believe and be saved. Therefore the devil does all he can to keep us from believing, to make us not believe the word when we read and hear it; or, if we heed it for the present, to make us forget it again, and let it slip, or if we remember it, to create prejudices in our minds against it, or divert our minds from it to something else.
Where the word of God is heard carelessly there is commonly a contempt put upon it too. They that willfully shut their ears against the word, do in effect trample it under their feet; they despise the commandment of the Lord.
Those on whom the word makes some impressions, but they are not deep and durable ones, will show their hypocrisy in a time of trial; as the seed sown upon the rock, where it gains no root. These believe a little while; their profession promises something, but in time of temptation they fall away from their good beginnings. Whether the temptation arises from the smiles or the frowns, of the world, they are easily overcome by it.
The pleasures of this life are as dangerous and mischievous thorns that choke the good seed of the word. It is not enough that the fruit be brought forth, but it must be brought to perfection, it must be fully ripened. If not, it is as if there was no fruit at all brought forth.
The good ground, which brings forth good fruit, is an honest and good heart, well disposed to receive instruction and commandment; a heart free from sinful pollutions, and firmly fixed for God and duty, an upright heart, a tender heart, and a heart that trembles at the word, is an honest and good heart, which, having heard the word, understands it.
Where the word is well kept there is fruit brought forth with patience. There must be both bearing patience and waiting patience; patience to suffer the tribulation and persecution which may arise because of the word; patience to continue to the end in well-doing.
In consideration of all this, we ought to take heed how we hear; take heed of those things that will hinder our profiting by the word we hear, watch over our hearts in hearing, and take heed lest they betray us; take heed lest we hear carelessly and slightly, lest, upon any account, we entertain prejudice against the word we hear; and take heed to the frame of our spirits after we have heard the word, lest we lose what we have gained.
Those that have received the gift of sowing the Word, are Ministers that have the dispensing of the gospel committed to them; people that have profited by the word and are thereby qualified to profit others. They are lighted candles and must in solemn authoritative preaching, diffuse their light; for a candle must not be covered with a vessel nor put under a bed, Ministers and Christians are to be lights in the world, holding forth the word of life!
“I have planted. Apollos watered, but God Himself…will give…increase”