That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
In our modern western world of supermarkets, sophisticated farming equipment, and mass food cultivating production, it is a bit of an adjustment for us to mentally transition back to the simple farming techniques of Jesus’ day. Such techniques make up the content of Jesus’ parable of the Sower. The parable talks more about the seed, and the success or failure of particular ground types to bring that seed to proper fruition, than it does about the Sower Himself.
We can think of the Sower in the parable as Christ Himself or even possibly Christ working through the lives of His followers. The Sower is doing the work of scattering seed. This sowing is a preaching and teaching work. This is because the seed is “the word of the kingdom” and this word is scattered through preaching it.
With this parable we are fortunate to have Jesus interpret it for us. The parable is about different kinds of ground which the seed lands upon. This ground is the hearts of people, and what they do with the seed constitutes whether they are good ground or poor ground.
The first ground that we are introduced to is “beside the road,” Some of the seed falls beside the road rather than on the field and it is eaten by birds instead of going into the earth. Jesus says that the person represented here is he who hears the word but does not understand it. Because he does not understand it he does not receive it and the devil snatches away from his memory even what he has heard. I do not believe that this one does not understand the word because he is necessarily unintelligent, slow to catch on, or dimwitted. I believe that he does not want to understand. He has chosen beforehand that he is closed to hearing about God’s kingdom and whenever this word is brought to him he dismisses it immediately. Their heart is like a hard-packed roadway and untilled. He is stiffnecked and stubborn as well as indifferent to spiritual things. Unless there is some change in his heart, there is no way for God’s word to take root in this kind of heart. His heart is calloused, unresponsive and refuses God’s truth. This is the easiest kind of heart for the devil to snatch away truth from.
Some of the seed fell on stony ground where the seed “did not have much soil;” This ground represents the second type of person or heart. This kind of soil is shallow. The seed does germinate and a plant begins to sprout up but the plant is prevented from rooting deeply by the surface rocks. What is Jesus saying here? I believe that this soil represents the person or heart that responds positively to the gospel, and is converted but “they withered away.” This is because he stumbles once persecution or tribulation comes to him as a result of the word. Jesus’ word is extremely offensive to those who love a life of sin and do not want to change. Such ones will almost certainly persecute the followers of Jesus. Persecution and tribulations come to Christ’s followers. Sadly, some of these followers give up on following Jesus as a result.
Some seed lands on soil which had thorns growing out of it. The seed sprouted but was choked out by these surrounding thorns. Jesus tells us that the thorns represent the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. This is another sad situation which repeats itself in every generation. Some people respond positively to Jesus’ word and I believe, are converted but they do not attend to their spiritual life or continue following Jesus simply because they are too busy with other things. What things are these? The cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. They are absorbed with their riches, fashion, careers, sports, possessions and lives. The love of riches can be a terrible snare and we are warned elsewhere in scripture. (see 1 Timothy 6:10 ).
The last type of soil that Jesus tells us about is “good soil” This is the one who “…hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.’” This is the one who really understands Jesus’ message and accepts it. Understanding Jesus’ message also means understanding that we must surrender our whole life to Him. Such a one who does this finds a beautiful spirituality birthed within himself and sprouting out of him are the fruits of God’s Spirit. Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. This is the victorious Christian, one who has God’s fruit growing out of him reproducing a hundred-fold, sixty-fold or thirty-fold. This is the victorious Christian, the one who stays a follower of Christ for life.
So friend, how is it with you? What kind of soil is your heart? Jesus’ word calls us to surrender our lives to Him. He died for your sins and mine so that we can be set free and received into God’s family. He rose from the dead. Now His gospel calls us to believe and to repent of our self-rule. It calls us to surrender to God and start over this time following His way. How is your heart to Christ’s call? Do you hear it or do you block it out immediately? Are you excited about following as long as it does not create waves with your friends, family or employer? Are you willing to follow even if it means abandoning your pathway to material wealth?
What if even now the seed of Jesus’ word is landing on your heart. There is conviction and recognition of sin. What will you do with this seed? Have you received it? Have you settled the matter? The seed of Jesus’ gospel, together with God’s Spirit, has all of the power to produce in you spiritual life which can be fruitful for the duration of your life and into eternity. There is no defect in the seed. How is your heart to receive the seed? Are you preoccupied? Do other things or other people have your heart? Could it be that the devil has you too busy to look at your soul, your death, your judgment, your eternity? Could it be, friend, that you have been too busy to consider, and accept, the life-giving gospel of Christ? Are you to go streaming on busy and absorbed with the cares of this life while the seed of the gospel lays on the surface of your heart? There it lays, not yet plucked up by birds. Not yet scorched by sun or choked by weeds. However, time does not stand still. You must decide for Christ, or against Him.
Friend, will you stop and think about your fleeting life, your dying bed, your judgment bar? Friend, you can have all of your sins forgiven if you will believe in Jesus’ gospel, and come to Him for salvation, beseeching His mercy and surrendering your life to Him. What is the opposite of coming to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and conversion? It is paying for your own sins on Judgment Day. Friend, the Bible warns you against such a fate. Do not let your sins pile up to a towering mountain. On the day of judgment the mountain of wrath will come down on unforgiven sin (unforgiven by God.) If you are running from God you are making this mountain higher, blacker, and more dreadful every day. The mountain will come down upon runners like the walls of water did on Pharaoh and his host as they attempted to cross the Red Sea. Friend, this need not be your fate. Your sins can be forgiven and your heart be freed. Jesus paid for your sins and mine on the cross, and He rose again. Now you must believe in this truth. Come to Jesus in prayer and make a full surrender to Him. Let Him have your life. There will be tribulations and persecutions will come but your life will be filled with spiritual fruit, with beautiful fruit. Fruit of love, joy, peace, etc. will be growing out of you. You will have God’s approval. Choose this for your own life. The decision rests with you. Approach God in prayer.
Pray with your own words or, if you need help, I offer this prayer for your soul.
Lord Jesus, I come to You, seeing my need. I am a lost soul and the ground of my heart has been hard and barren. Today a seed of truth has landed upon my heart. It is the truth that You love me and that You died for my sins. It is the truth that You rose from the dead. It is the truth that I can be forgiven and become Your follower. Jesus I choose to receive this seed. I choose to repent and put my faith in You. I want to have a relationship with You. Forgive all of my sins. I commit my life to following You. Thank You. Amen.
Booth, Catherine. Life And Death. The Salvation Army Supplies And Purchasing Department. Atlanta, Georgia.
MacArthur, John F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary : Matthew 8-15.
Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1987.
Wenham, David. The Parables Of Jesus. Downers Grove : InterVarsity Press.
“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
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Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)