The Sower and the Seed
Text: Matthew 13:4-9
This passage takes place in the midst of Jesus’ “busy day.” In one day, he healed the blind, dumb demoniac, dealt with the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; rejected a request by the Pharisees for a sign. He had also rejected his mother and brothers trying to take him away, he taught these parables on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias). Finally, he calmed the storm and healed the demoniac of Gennesaret.
In the other Gospel accounts, Matthew gives seven parables, Mark records four (one not in Matthew) and Luke records three. Two of the parables are interpreted by Jesus (The Sower, The Tares), and a third is partially interpreted. (The Net).
Jesus teaches these parables in the 2nd of 3 year of his ministry on earth. Most of this year is spent in Galilee away from the politics of Jerusalem and the opposition of the Sanhedrin, Pharisees and Sadducees.
It was at this point that Jesus’ popularity was at its greatest, with huge crowds following Him and many trying to manipulate Him to fit their idea of who and what the Messiah was meant to be.
It is because of these crowds and the popularity, that will end after the “Bread of Life” discourse in John 6, that Jesus begins to teach the people exclusively in parables.
Purpose of Parables
Matthew 13:10-17 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Christ used parable for two reasons.
1. To instruct the believers, disciples and apostles
2. To separate those who were hypocrites seeking to use Christ
or the truth to their own advantage.
The parables hid the truth from the false professers (this people’s heart is waxed gross, ears are dull) but showed the truth to the sincere seekers who came to Christ to learn. (“it is given to you to know. Blessed are your eyes.”)
Rules for interpreting parables
The word parable means to place alongside for measurement or comparison (like a yardstick) it is an objective illustration for spiritual or moral truth.
Our definition of a parable: an earthly story that tells heavenly truth.
Rules For Interpreting A Parable:
1. Never make a parable walk on all fours.
2. Interpret according to context.
3. Interpret according to proper time frame.
4. Never use a parable to interpret doctrine.
The Main Point
The main point of Matthew 13:1-9 is not who is saved or not saved but the types of citizens of the kingdom and their reception or rejection of the seed which will exist during the church (interadvent) age.
Parable of the Soil
Matthew 13:3-9 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
WAYSIDE - Matthew 13:4, 18-19
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side,
and the fowls came and devoured them up:
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When
any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh
the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he
which received seed by the way side.
This soil has been compressed by the walking of others in the field or even by the Sower, himself. As people walk in the field, the paths they walk become compressed and hard. Even the place where the sower walks in his planting can become compacted.
Due to the this stress, the soil compacts and hardens, the seed
falling on it cannot penetrate and take root. Birds, the agents of Satan snatch
What is a heart that is a wayside heart?
A heart that is compressed by the business and stress of life leaves no room for the seed of the gospel.
These individuals cannot see how the Word Of God can have any effect upon their life's situation, their life is just too full and too complex to be addressed by a simplistic principle of scripture.
What causes a heart to be a wayside heart?
The stress of job, family, finances, troubles even the activities of church can add up to a life that crowds out the seeds being planted by the Saviour and allows Satan to snatch away the truth.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:5-8
Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun. There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
STONY - MATTHEW 13:5-6, 20-21
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much
earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And
when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they
20 But he that received the seed into stony places,
the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet
hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or
persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
This is shallow soil with a rocky ledge beneath the surface of the ground. Seeds sown in the this shallow soil spring up quickly due to the sun
heating the rock underneath the seeds. But when the roots strike the rocks they cannot find
nourishment and so the plant withers.
What is a stony heart?
A heart with no depth no ability to let the roots of the word grow. The inability to commit to God.
This is the person who seems to immediately accept Christ but never grows and matures in the Christian life. They may be saved but their relationship with the Lord is very shallow. They are nominal Christians.
What happens to these?
They will fail because the word is not rooted and grounded in them.
Scripture Ephesians 3:16-19
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
THORNY - Matthew 13:7, 22
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung
up, and choked them:
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
This is soil on the fringe of the field which is easily overgrown
It is rich soil, but it is too crowded with thorns to bring forth fruit the plants are starved, overshadowed and stunted.
What kind of hearts are thorny soil?
Hearts away from the richness and protection of God's will and fellowship.
Those who are fond of the lushness and variety of the
world. They don't wish to live the
regimented, strict lifestyle of the Christian, but they don't want to be
What is the result of such a life?
By allowing the weeds of the world to grow in our hearts the seeds of the Gospel are choked and stunted, unable to bring forth fruit.
Scripture: 1 John 2:14 -17
I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him
that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are
strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked
one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man
love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the
flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father,
but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he
that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
GOOD - Matthew 13:8, 23
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth
fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is
he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and
bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
This is the rich, fertile soil. It has been worked deeply, enriched
by the constant attention of the sower. The Good soil is plowed deeply and often by the sower. It is fertilized and given nutrients to help it sustain
growth. It is well watered.
What are hearts in the good soil?
The heart willing to be worked by the master.
This heart/soil is plowed deeply and will bear the marks of the master’s plow. But unlike the heart compacted by stress it is softened not hardened.
Scripture: John 15:1-4
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every
branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that
beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are
clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more
can ye, except ye abide in me.
Where does this heart get it's nourishment?
This heart seeks the nourishment of God's word, by enriching itself it is able to be fruitful.
Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-8
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
If the word is fertilizer, then what might be water?
Water could be the refreshing of the Holy Spirit. As water is to soil so the Spirit sustains us.
Scripture: John 4:13-14
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this
water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give
him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a
well of water springing up into everlasting life.
How can my heart always be good soil for the Sower’s seed?
I must be willing to allow Jesus to prepare my heart. It must be worked, nourished and watered by the sower.
So, where does the good heart get it's nourishment?
This heart seeks the nourishment of God's word, by enriching itself it will be fruitful.
Proverbs 3:1-8 My son, forget not my law; but let thine
heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall
they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy
neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and
good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all
thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways
acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes:
fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and
marrow to thy bones.
If the word is nourishment, then what might be water?
Water could be understood as the work of the Holy Spirit on
our hearts. As water is vital to soil so the Spirit is essential to sustain and
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever
drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water
that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him
shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
What kind of soil is your heart today?
Wayside, Rocky, Thorny or Good?
Fortunately our hearts are not soil, we have a choice in how we will receive the seed of the Word. We can always seek the sower’s attention, and ask that He might break up my hardness, take out the stony places, uproot the weeds and make my heart soft and yielding once again.