The Parable of the Sower

Sean P. Cavender | Bald Knob, Arkansas

As Matthew begins to record the many parables of Jesus, the first one recorded in Matthew 13 is what we often call the parable of the sower and soils. Of all the parables Jesus gave, this one parable perhaps stands above the rest because we can discern the reason Jesus spoke in parables, and we are able to perceive the heart of those who hear the gospel.  This parable and others were difficult to understand because the words of Christ fell on deaf ears. We must be ready to hear (Matthew 13:9) and open our hearts so we may be converted by the teachings of the Lord (Matthew 13:14-15).

In the parable of the sower, Christ told of a sower who went out to sow (Matthew 13:3). Some of the seeds fell on the wayside, beside the road, where the birds were able to eat the seed. More seed fell on the rocky places where there was no depth of soil, so the life of the seed was inhibited. Then some seed fell among the thorns, that allowed the seed to be choked and destroyed. Still yet some seed fell on good ground which produced more seed and crops (Matthew 13:4-8). Then Jesus closed his parable with the statement “he who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9). Jesus intended for his listeners to understand him and make the proper application.

Yet, there were still some questions by Christ’s disciples. They needed an explanation of Christ’s teachings. Thankfully the Lord explained the parable for them, and Matthew recorded that explanation for us.

Yet, there were still some questions by Christ’s disciples. They needed an explanation of Christ’s teachings. Thankfully the Lord explained the parable for them, and Matthew recorded that explanation for us.

Jesus’ explanation is fairly simple and straightforward:

The parable is about the sower. He stated, “hear then the parable of the sower” (Matthew 13:18). It is easy for us to dwell on the various kinds of soil that the seed fell on. It is easy for us to ask what sort of understanding and hearts we, and others, have; to see if we are receptive to the word. Yet Christ calls the parable the parable of the sower. The central character of the parable is the sower who went out to sow!

The sower scattered the seed everywhere. In our evangelistic efforts, how often do we not share the gospel because we feel that someone will be unreceptive to the truth? Do we assume that someone has too many thorns in their heart and too many cares of this world to take time to hear the gospel preached? As a result, we do not even begin to try and teach them. This this why the focus of this parable must b about the sower—we need to sow the seed everywhere.

What good gardener does not first prepare the ground before he plants seed? Will there be work we must do as good sowers, to help the lost to see the truth. Absolutely. Must we remove hindrances and distractions as best we can so the seed may fall on the good soil? Certainly.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law… To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:20, 22)

If we forget that the parable is primarily about the sower, then we may easily give up in our efforts to reach those who are outside the body of Christ. Make no mistake, being a sower is hard work. We must make it our objective to be knowledgeable in the word of God so we may teach others. Also, we must be ready to get our hands dirty, till the ground, and help hearts turn to the Lord.

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