The Parable of the Sower is one of my favorites and it is one of the most important parables in understanding how to receive God’s word. As we will see, there are many ways to absorb, throw out, and keep God’s word in our hearts. We want to strive to keep and grow God’s kingdom, so let us discover how we must do this from the Parable of the Sower.
The parable is held in Matthew 13:3-9. It says,
“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘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 Whoever has ears, let them hear.’”
Jesus gives us an explanation to the parable. Shortly after the parable in Matthew 13:18-23 Jesus says, “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Jesus offers a full and complete explanation of this parable and what each part means. In summary, there are four different ways in which the word of God affects people. Someone does not understand or does not want to hear it- path. Someone who hears the word and is joyful but their faith is shallow and it fades away when trouble comes- rocky ground. Someone who hears the word but worries and wealth get in the way- thorns. Someone who hears and understands the word and shares it with others- good soil. Every person on this earth has been through or is at one of these events. Obviously, we want to be the good soil, but it is easier said than done. Let’s look at each one of these examples to dive deeper.
The seed sown along the path is the saddest out of the three negative grounds. No roots are planted, no understanding or appreciation is developed, the seed (God’s word) just sits there and is eventually taken away by Satan. If one does not understand God’s word, then one must seek answers and then the answers will be given to them. Matthew 7:7-8 promises that, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus promises us that when we seek and ask, we will find. What a beautiful promise.
The rocky ground is the second type of ground we come to and it is an interesting one. This example is one who hears the word and receive it with joy. This person is so happy to hear and understand the message of the kingdom. However, because that is as far as it went and because their faith was shallow (no roots), when trouble came, they fell away. There is something interesting to note here. This is not just ordinary life trouble Jesus is referring to here. This is trouble and persecution because of the word. When we are persecuted because of our faith, often times, we fall away or our faith becomes weak. However, we must be strong in facing trials and persecution. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” How can we remain strong when we are persecuted? We know the God says to be strong, but how do we do that? We rejoice. As hard as it is to rejoice when things aren’t going right, we must remember where our final destination is, heaven. These earthly sufferings are temporary, but our reward is forever (Romans 8:18).
The thorns are also interesting and applicable to all of us. In Jesus’ parable, when God’s word fell in the thorns these people heard the word but worries and wealth got in the way and the word became unfruitful. We can say that anything that distracts us away from God represents the thorns. Technology, relationships, money, jobs, possessions. Any of these things can be a “thorn” in our life and choke us by getting in the way and not letting God’s word dwell and produce in us. Hebrews 13:5 offers a good piece of advice and helps us understand how not to get distracted. It reads, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” If we are content with what we have, we will not be greedy for more and can focus on God. We need to keep our sole focus on God and his word so we can share the gospel and produce fruit.
The good soil is what we all strive for. This is when someone hears the word and understands it, which is something the other three events did not possess. One might ask though, what is this crop? What is the fruit that is produced because of the good soil? Many will say that it is the sharing of the gospel. Meaning that if you hear the word and understand, share it with others so that they can hear and understand and these people you share it with are the crop. This is nonetheless true. However, if we hear and understand the word of God we produce our own fruit inside of us, in other words, certain characteristics that come from the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a shares these characteristics, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” If we are displaying these characteristics to everyone and trying to show them in every situation, then the word of God has taken root, we have been baptized and the Spirit now dwells in us helping us do these things.
In conclusion, we should all strive to be the good receptive soil that produces a crop for the Lord. There are many ways to twist or reject God’s word, but we should clear our minds and focus on Him so that we will not get distracted. If you have not heard God’s word or do not understand, be receptive and seek answers and God will reveal them to you.