Parable of the sower


4  When a great multitude came together, and people from every city were coming to him, he spoke by a parable. 
5  “The farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the road, and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky devoured it. 
6  Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 
7  Other fell amid the thorns, and the thorns grew with it, and choked it. 
8  Other fell into the good ground, and grew, and produced one hundred times as much fruit.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” 
The Purpose of the Parables
9  Then his disciples asked him, “What does this parable mean?” 
10  He said, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of God’s Kingdom, but to the rest in parables; that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 
11  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 
12  Those along the road are those who hear, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. 
13  Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, who believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation. 
14  That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 
15  Those in the good ground, these are those who with an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and produce fruit with perseverance. 


In the previous  study guides we covered certain miracles that Jesus did. In this one we are going to look at one of His teachings.

People gladly received His deeds. He performed miracles in their bodies, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, leperous ones to be cleansed and healed, etc. Every person in that nation was so eager to receive these good deeds from Jesus, and went home cured and rejoicing.


His words, his teaching, however, did not have the same effect. Multitudes heard His words but it did not change them. It did not heal their sick hearts from the disease of sin. Most of the thieves went home and continued stealing, the liers still cheated, the gossipers still spoke evil of others, the murderers still killed  and those that had little or no interest in God, continued being more interested in their belongings and friends than in God, even though they had received healing in their bodies.

So, the few that did benefit by Jesus’s words, were asking why it was so; did the words of Jesus not have the same power as His deeds? Was His teaching really from God? Could His teaching really be followed? Would a person not waste his life and miss all the nice things of this world by following the teachings of Jesus? People were beginning to doubt. So, He answered their question by telling  them a story.


The story He told them was only one of many more and is called a parable, which means that it is the comparing of two things. A thing that is part of everyday life and is easy to understand and to agree with, is used to explain something that is more difficult to understand and accept.

The stories were illustrations of deep spiritual truths, so the listeners had to think deeply to discover what they really meant. Sometimes they could not figure it out and if they were really concerned to know what God was saying, they would go to Jesus afterwards to enquire from Him and He would then explain it to them.

So these stories, were like bait that a fisherman puts on his hook. When the fish takes it into his mouth or proceeds to swallow it, he gets hooked and hauled in by the angler. Likewise, the real reason for God’s teachings, is not just to get people enjoying the sweetness of it, but to get them so hooked by it, that He can draw them out of the vast sea of humanity to Himself, not to eat or sell them as the fisherman does, but to give them eternal life and let them experience His love forever.


So this teaching is about His Kingdom. What was this Kingdom? Jesus called it the Kingdom of God (or sometimes the Kingdom of Heaven).  It was not an earthly kingdom  like America, Kenia or Japan to which a person has to travel a long distace to find and to become a citizen of. It was a Kingdom of the Spirit. This Kingdom He was offering to all people. He said that it had come near to them; within reach.

This one is Jesus’s first teaching on this Kingdom. It shows how this Kingdom is established on earth and why the effort to do so, sometimes fails. In it He uses the picture of a sower who went out to sow. 


The sower fills his seed bag with the very best seeds which he had kept seperate when bringing in the previous’ years harvest. Then he goes out to the land to sow. He puts his hand into the sack and scatters the seeds over a portion of the land. He continues to sow like this until he has covered the whole area. Well done!

This picture shows us that God’s Kingdom is established by God and His servants, sowing His Words, His teachings, in this world. His words are the seeds by which the Kingdom is established. Unfortunately the the sowers of God’s Word, are not as successful as they hope to be. Why not? Is His Word of poor quality?

No! It is perfect, healthy, powerful. It is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is contained in the 66 books of the Bible, written by many different writers but never does the one contradict the other. The Word of God is excellent. Then why does it not germinate and bear fruit in the lives of the listeners? To find the answer, we again turn to the story of the sower.


  • The seed that fell on the road.

A few handfuls of seed fell on the path on the edge of the land, where people were continually walking. This seed got trampled by those that cared nothing for it, so it was entirely wasted.

Secondly, the continual pounding of the feet, day by day, caused the ground to become as hard as a rock, like a slab of cement. Cast some seed, even larger seed like mealies (maize) on a slab of cement and you will hardly have turned your back before scores of doves and other birds flock down to devour it. 

This is a picture of peoples whose lives are given over to the devil. As children they were receptive to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through their consciences, warning them when they would be tempted to do something wrong and encouraging them to do good, profitable things. But at an early age they began resisting that inner voice. They put their hands over their ears when God was speaking, but craned their necks to hear what satan was saying. So satan was walking through their hearts all day long and their hearts became so hardened that they could no longer understand the Word of God, neither would they believe it.

If a person, does not believe God’s Word, he cannot accept it. If he does not accept it, it cannot grow in his heart. Such a person surrounds himself with friends like himself and they add to his hardness.

The devil is quick to steal the Word that ministers and Christians bring to such a person. When words and thoughts that we receive, lie unused in our minds, they become vague and disappear. The devil has a way of blotting out such precious truths, or of diminishing their impact  so that the listener loses it all. 

It is like your friend bringing you some sugar, tomatoes and meat. She knocks on the door, telling you what she brought, but you call out: “Just leave it there. I am dressing and will be there in a moment”. But you get busy with the children and other things and when you eventually go outside, the dogs have eaten the meat, the chickens pecked the tomatoes to pieces and the children are enjoying the sugar. Everyting is lost because you put no value on the gift you received.

But note that even this useless piece of soil got its share of the seed and in the day of judgment this person will have no excuse.

  • The seed that fell on the rock

The second portion of seed fell on a piece of ground that looked like a good patch of soil. Looking at it from above, you could not see anything wrong with it. However, just under the surface was a large formation of solid rock. A thin layer of soil covered it. It had certain advantages, in that the ground covering it was quickly heated up by the sun so that the seed germinated faster than those on the rest of the land. The seeds sprouted and sent down little roots but very soon they hit the rock. Since the soil was so shallow it dried out quickly and there wasn’t enough moisture in the hot weather for the seeds to continue growing. The little plants wilted and died of drought.

The Lord explained that it was an illustration of people who respond quickly to the Gospel and are suddenly converted, but whose faith collapses just as quickly and comes to nothing as a result of an underlying hardness in their spirits. They are soft on the outside, but hard on the inside.

You see, before you accept the Gospel of salvation, you must ask yourself what it is going to demand of you. You must explore your life and see what is inside of you that would prevent you from following the Lord Jesus in faith and obedience right to the end. Then you must acknowlege that that thing is to be removed.

It is possible that you may have a huge rock of pride in your heart making you very afraid of what others think of you. So you are afraid of their rejection. 

When a proud person accepts the Word of God and begins to tell others about it, and begins to speak of the change that took place in his life, people may laugh at him. That will hurt his pride. He will then be afraid to allow that seed  inside of him to continue to grow. He will stop watering the little plant by way of fellowshipping with God in prayer and Bible study, and by witnessing to others. As a result, his faith begins to die and very soon there will be nothing left of the decision he took in church to live according to God’s Word.

  • The seed that fell amongst the thorns

Another part of the seed fell among the weeds (thorns). Jesus explained that the weeds are the worries of life as well as its riches and pleasures.

These people receive the Word with joy and meditate on the wonderful truths. They are soft both on the outside and inside. They do not have the rock of pride in their lives, and as a result the seed grows very well. They read their Bibles and go to church on Sundays.

Because they are serving the Lord, God blesses them with a large income and they can afford to buy many things. They drive around in beautiful cars, enjoy all the good things God provided, but gradually these good things become like weeds in their lives. Instead of reading their Bibles, meditating on it and praying for themselves and their families, they rather sit in front of their big TV sets watching stories of sex and violence. They receive worldly seed and very soon all sorts of weeds spring up and smother the little plants of faith, so that a very small harvest is obtained.

In this group are also those in whose hearts the seeds grow very beautifully, but then the enemy of souls comes and robs them of their work, their money or their health. Thieves break into their homes and steal all their costly posessions. They begin to worry about where they will get money to pay for their childrens’ school fees, to buy food, etc..

They work harder and harder, even on Sundays and in the evenings when their friends attend Bible classes. “We must keep the pot boiling” is their excuse, and so the seed of worry takes away all the water and sunshine and the little plant of faith in God receives no life and dies. From this life too, God reaps nothing.

  • The seed that fell on the fertile soil

Fortunately there was a portion of the seed that fell onto good ground. This seed flourished and produced a mighty crop. Why was this soil good? Because this was the only piece of ground that belonged to the farmer. He had bought it, paying the full price and getting the title deed which he filed safely because he was going to remain the owner of it for as long as he lived. This piece of ground was very precious to him. Then he set about to make it “good”.

First of all he fenced it off to protect it from stray animals. He then took his oxen and all his implements to prepare it. He cleared it of all the weeds and burned them. Then he plowed it several times and where he discovered rocks below the surface, he removed and stacked them some distance away. Lastly he put fertilizer over it and worked it well in.  

Then he waited for the rain so that the soil would be damp. Only then did he fetch his bag and spread the seed evenly over the surface, covering it with soil afterwards so that the birds would not get at it.

From then on he went there every day to see the little plants emerging as the seeds sprouted. Whenever weeds appeared, he would immediatedly remove them. No wonder then that such a huge crop was harvested.

The spiritual lesson to be learnt from this parable is obvious: for the seed of God’s word to grow and bear fruit in the life of a person, he must be totally sold, given over, surrendered to God, the Farmer of Hearts. Just as soil cannot prepare itself to receive and grow mealies (maize) or corn, a person is unable to change his own heart which is hard, rocky or covered with weeds. Only God can do that and He will only begin doing so, once that heart belongs to Him. No farmer will waste his energy by tilling another man’s land.

The question which now has to be answered by the reader is: “Am I totally sold out, surrendered to Jesus? Was their a day in my life when I accepted Him as my God and the Farmer of my soul. Do I belong to Him. Do I daily trust Him to till my life just as He wishes, even if it may hurt when the hard places are broken up, the stones removed and the weeds burned?” If not, why wait another day, now is your day of golden opportunity. Go on your knees, pray and give Him your heart. Will you do so?



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