The Parables of the Kingdom 1 – The Parable of the Sower
Scripture reading – Matthew 13:10–15: “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn (repent) so that I should heal them.”
Jesus said this to His disciples after telling “the parable of the sower”. This parable is recorded in Matthew 13:1–9; Mark 4:1–20 and Luke 8:4–15.
But did they understand this parable? What do you think? How much of “the mysteries of the kingdom” they understood? Some of it they understood, but not much to start with. But why did they understand at least some of it? They did not “resist the light” and more light would be given to them.
Parable (OT) = a simile, story of metaphorical nature (with no literal meaning)
Parable (NT) = a similitude, fictitious narrative (mostly from a common life) conveying a moral or spiritual lesson, story with no literal meaning
Let’s read this parable’s version in Matthew 13:1–9 – Read
Let’s see the components of this story:
Sower (went out to sow)
Seed (sower was sowing the seed)
Seed fell onto four types of soil:
- By the wayside (hard packed ground)
- In stony places (shallow soil with many stones)
- Among the thorns (Thorns sprung up naturally and choked the tender plant)
- Good ground (yielded good crop, some more some less)
According to Mark 4:10 both the people who followed Him and His own disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable to them: “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.”
Jesus explains – Matthew 13:18: “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:”
Read Matthew 13: 19–23:
Now who is the sower?
We find the answer in other similar parable called “the tares in the field of grain”
Matthew 13:37 – “He who sows the good seed is the Son of
Let’s gather Christ’s explanation from all 3 gospels, (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8):
Sower = the Son of Man (Jesus)
Seed = the word of God (Luke 8:11)
Comments: According to Jesus’ explanation in John 6:63 God’s Spirit through the word imparts spiritual life and power. “Eating Christ’s flesh” and “drinking His blood” means an on-going accepting and receiving of God’s word (thus God’s will) into one’s heart and mind.
It has creative and transforming power; every promise believed, every command(ment) received into heart and mind and not resisted will produce its own fruit.
Soils = represent varied types of people; represent also us or rather our heart and mind receptivity and responsiveness to hearing God’s word or message
Those by the wayside = they hear, but don’t understand, Satan comes and takes it from their hearts, seed gets trampled underfoot (casual, superficial, inattentive hearers, easily distracted, don’t take time or make effort to understand, value lightly what they hear)
People represented by stony or rocky places with a shallow soil = they hear, quickly spring up and accept it with joy, but have no root in themselves, no depth. Persecution, troubles, trials and temptations come and they quickly wither, fall away and die. (Shallow repentance, shallow, not thorough conversion, not counting the cost of discipleship)
People who receive the seed among the thorns = Cares of this world (cares of life), deceitfulness of riches, desires for other things (materialism? reversed priorities), choke the word and they become unfruitful. Value other things as more important.
People represented by seed on the good ground = they hear, accept it, understand what it takes to be a disciple and with patience and perseverance bear fruit from a noble and good heart (To grow crop must include watering, fertilizing and taking care of the field and culture of the heart), some bear fruit 100 fold, some 60 fold, some 30 fold.
The goal of the Sower is to have a fruit yielding crop – to have a harvest!
Where is the problem that so many grain stalks become unfruitful and die?
Is there a problem with the Sower?
Is it the seed that is faulty or deficient?
Is it initially the condition of each heart and then an on-going response of each one?
Now dear friend, facing these realities can you see yourself as the good soil person?
Or are you the inattentive hearer who hears and quickly forgets, being busy with other things?
Or do you see yourself in the category of an enthusiastic receiver (the shallow ground) without the depth of commitment, without God’s word taking deep roots in your heart?
Easily excited and just as quickly cooling off? Are emotions and feelings your foundation? Then when difficulties, trials and temptations come do you just as quickly wither or get easily offended?
How about the heart overgrown with thistles; cares of life, deceitfulness of riches, desires for all kinds of other things, materialistic mindset, reversed priorities, life a round of fun?
There are 3 things to remember:
a) You or me don’t have to remain the kind of soil you are now (it goes both ways!)
b) You or me can have the hard ground of the heart broken, cultivated and have the thistles and weeds up-rooted
c) And then we can sow in receptive places, feed the plant of gospel seed with moisture of God’s Spirit, fertilize it with His word and prayer and expose ourselves to the Sunlight of His love and grace.
Jeremiah 4:3 puts it this way: “Break up your fallow ground and do not sow among thorns.”
Hosea 10:12 builds on this idea: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”
Are you a good ground hearer at this time? Good! But don’t allow the soil of your heart to overgrow with weeds and thistles or to lack moisture, nutrition and sunshine!
Besides, why not avail yourself to the Lord fully on a consistent basis and aim at bearing the most possible abundant crop?
(Our next study will be the parable of wheat and tares)