The Parable of the Sower
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear. -- Matthew 13:3-9
As a backdrop for the parable of the sower, Christ had been delivering a series of warnings to the faithful, and had also confirmed his mission by healing a blind, mute man who had been possessed by a demon. Always the skeptics, the Pharisees attributed his miraculous power to Beelzebub, the prince of demons.
To that, Jesus reasoned with them as to the improbability that Satan would help to destroy his own kingdom. He then warned them against the fearful sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and spoke to them about the importance of having the heart in a good state, for good things can come only from a good heart.
Unconvinced, some of the Pharisees asked for a sign, to which Jesus referred them to Jonah, declaring that the men of Nineveh should rise to condemn that generation.
That same day, Jesus was sitting on the banks of a lake, a large crowd gathered around him, probably including many of the same people who had been with him earlier. Christ knew, we can surmise, that his message had been firmly rooted in some, but not all of those who had been listening to him. This was the setting in which he told the parable of the sower.
- The sower
- The Lord Jesus Christ, as the great teacher, under whom all are ministers of God's word.
- Whom he has called by his spirit.
- Qualified with graces and talent; and
- Sent forth by opening a door for the message to be told.
- The ministerial sower must be:
- Judicious, selecting the appropriate place and time.
- Diligent, laboring as one who must give an account.
- Persevering, in season and out.
- Devoted, yielding himself heartily, wholly, and sincerely.
- The seed is the word of God, and as such, it is:
- Heavenly and divine (Isaiah 55:10-11)
- Living and incorruptible (1 Peter 1:23)
- Powerful and soul-saving (Romans 1:16-17)
- Immutable and everlasting (Isaiah 40:8)
- along the path / by the wayside
- Quickly devoured by birds.
- These were the unenlightened hearers of the Lord's message. Satan, the world, and an unprepared heart prevented this seed from taking root.
- in rocky places
- These are the superficial hearers of Christ's message. They may listen with eagerness and seem to receive it with joy, yet other events quickly erase the power of God's word in their hearts.
- among thorns
- These are worldly hearers of the message that Jesus brought. Their hearts had not been prepared to receive God's message, but their thoughts and desires are so wrapped up in their own concerns that they can't give fixed attention to the realities that the Lord had for them.
- on good soil
- These were those whose hearts were prepared and open to receive the message.
- varying yield
- They all yielded fruit, and abundantly. But the difference is striking, as we learn later in the chapter, when Christ himself explains the parable. Some gave back thirty times what was sown, others sixty, and still others a hundred times.