Parables of Jesus: Sower/Soils
Matthew 13: 1-23
A boy scout says to his scout leader,
“Sir, is this snake poisonous?”
The scout leader says, “No, that snake’s not poisonous at
all.” So the boy picks up the snake which bites him, and the boy starts to spasm and foaming at the mouth as the other kids look on in horror.
The scout leader says, “But that snake is venomous. Poison
is ingested or absorbed, while venom is injected. Let’s get it
right next time, boys.”
I hate telling people I’m a taxidermist.
When they ask, “So, what do you do for a living?” I just say,
“Oh, you know… stuff.”
Today we are going to discuss another of Jesus’ parables.
Before we get into it let’s discuss what a parable is and what a
parable is not.
A parable is a story that has one main point
An allegory is a story that represents several different spiritual
applications in one story.
Jesus told many parables during His ministry. Let’s look at the
parable of the sower
Matthew 13: 1-9
This parable begins with Jesus sitting by the sea.
Then per usual large crowds gathered around to hear what He
would say. It was so crowded Jesus got into a boat, sat down and began to tell them parables.
This parable is about a sower of seeds.
This profession would be very familiar to the disciples and
followers of Jesus.
When farmers sowed seed, they used what is called the
broadcast method as they tossed the seed out with their hands in every direction. The goal was to get the seed in as many places as possible to generate the largest harvest.
4 Types of Soils
some seeds fell beside the road. There were often
roads nearby the fields and sometimes even paths through
the fields. Farmers used these paths to walk along as they
threw their seeds out into the field. The seeds that landed
here were quickly eaten by birds.
the Bible describes this as a place that didn’t have much soil. It was likely a thin layer of soil over a rock/limestone layer. Seeds were unable to dig deep and establish strong roots so they sprung up quickly and then got scorched by the sun.
some of the seeds grew among the thorns that
likely grew in the corners of the field. The plants began to
grow, but were quickly choked out by the thorns. One year
Heather planted a blackberry bush in our garden. It overtook
all the other plants that were there. It choked them out and
boy was it hard to get rid of. I eventually had to dig it up and
put down all new soil in the garden.
seeds that landed in the good soil took root, got sunshine, water and all nutrients they needed to grow and produce fruit. This is the difference between the good soil and all the other places. None of the others produced any
fruit. Some were eaten, some were choked, some died from
the sun. The seeds that landed in the good soil produced a
harvest 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold.
Jesus ends this section with this phrase – he who has ears let him.
hear – or rather listen. It seems to be out of place, but when we read it in the context of the next verses we will see what Jesus meant by that phrase.
Reason for Parables
The disciples come to Jesus and ask Him why He speaks to them in parables.
He told them that it was granted for them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others it has not been granted.
Mystery in the Bible is something that was previously unknown but revealed in God’s perfect timing to those who are able to understand it. Jesus spoke this way so that His disciples would understand what He was speaking about but those who weren’t true followers wouldn’t understand what He truly meant.
He also told them that their inability to hear and understand fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah spoke to the nation of Israel and told them that they would turn from the Lord and not see Him or hear Him or understand Him. He calls their hearts dull. Oh that God would never say that of you and me church! Let us have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to understand the creator of heaven and earth!!
Now Jesus explains the parable of the sower.
The first thing we need to understand is that the sower represents people who share the gospel.
The 4 different soils represent the hearts of those who have had a chance to hear the gospel.
Path – those who are unable to understand the gospel
Jesus says that that seed that falls on the road represents those who hear the word and do not understand it. As a result the evil one comes and snatches it away. Heather doesn’t appreciate birds, well, maybe we should say Heather is terrified of birds. You would find no argument from her if you equated a bird with the evil one.
Rocky Places – those who receive the word with joy, but have no roots. This represents people who have not made a true commitment to follow Christ. When we make a commitment to follow Him, we must commit to die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him every day. We have to commit to living for what He desires, not our own. The seed that fell on the rocky places represents those who lack commitment and discipleship. Can we chat for a minute about this group of people? Most people who study these verses believe that the first three groups are unbelievers, and I agree with this 100%, but what if we as a church and as fellow believers were not only committed to Christ, but to the growth and discipleship of other believers. Would some who fall in this category be changed from professors of Christ who turn at the first sign of trouble to those who are fully committed to Christ? I’m not saying we can change a person’s heart, only God can do that,
but are we able to do life near them so they see what it looks like to live a life that honors Him and produces fruit?
Thorns – Jesus said the seed that fell among the thorns is a man who hears the word and lets the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word out of him. He bears no fruit. This man has his priorities out of whack. He cares more about the world than he does about his relationship with God.
Whether it is his worries or being caught up trying to serve two masters this man is half hearted and not fully surrendered to God.
The thorns may have been so subtle that the man didn’t even
realize he was being choked out by them. It’s like the frog in the kettle. It probably felt nice and warm for a bit but then before he knew it the water was boiling and he died.
Good Soil – Jesus says the seed that fell on the good soil is the
man who hears the word and understands it. He bears fruit. His life is marked with obedience. Notice that all the other soils didn’t produce any fruit. Only the good soil.
Another point worthy of mentioning is that even the good fruit
varies from seed to seed or from person to person. Some
produced 30 fold, some 60 and some 100. But each produced
because they were ready to receive the word. The soil was
prepared and it did what it was designed to do.
God’s people receive His word because God drew them to
Himself and revealed Himself to them by his love and grace.
God’s people also obey His word. They hear it and understand it and then put it into practice. James tells believers to not just be hearers, but doers of the word.
Sowers of the Word
As believers we are all called to be sowers of the word.
How can we make sure our seed goes out and lands in the good soil?
The truth is that we can’t. In fact, it’s not our job to make sure that the soil is prepared but rather, our job is to broadcast the seed of the word and allow God to do what only God can do.
He is the Lord of the harvest. The workers are few but the harvest is plentiful.
Pray with me that He would raise up more workers to broadcast the seed of the word so that He can bear fruit among us.