Reading Time: 8 Minutes
If you’ve been reading the Gospel of Matthew, you may have wondered
how the religious authorities could have been so blind. Jesus spoke
words that have been quoted for centuries with his famous Sermon on
the Mount message, but they seemed to be completely unresponsive to
them. He healed people all over the northern reaches of Israel and
they said he did this to deceive the people.
How can someone be so great and yet be rejected by God’s very own
people? Jesus explained how this happened by telling the parable of
the sower. The parable is found in Matthew 13.1-9.
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And
great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat
down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
“And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to
sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds
came and devoured them.
“‘Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil,
and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but
when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they
“‘Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked
“‘Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold,
some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear'” (Matthew
The Parable Explained
Like us, the followers of Jesus needed the parable explained. Jesus
first told them why he used parables when speaking. This will be out
topic for tomorrow’s article. Then, he explained the four types of
fields that represented the different ways that people responded to
Some people fail to respond to Jesus, because his teaching does not
penetrate their hearts. Jesus said, “When anyone hears the word of the
kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches
away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the
path” (Matthew 13.19).
The “heart” describes the gateway to the person. It is comprised of
the mind, the will and the emotions of a person.
The Book of Romans describes how people can become like those whose
heart resembles a beaten down pathway. “For although they knew God,
they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became
futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened”
People like this are not able to receive God’s word. Their
understanding is clouded, because they choose their own
self-sufficiency and self-will over God.
The only hope for Pathway People is that they will forsake self-will
and self-pleasure and begin following the direction of Jesus. When
this happens the things of God that seemed so hard to understand
Rocky Ground People
Jesus explained Rocky Ground People like this, “As for what was sown
on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately
receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a
while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the
word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13.20-21).
What kind of people resemble this kind of person? The soil represents
receptivity to Jesus. The rocks beneath picture our self-life that
still controls our mind, will and emotions. The Rocky Ground Person is
someone who appears to follow Jesus, but underneath self-will,
self-pleasing, self-sufficiency, self, self and more of self is firmly
If something happens that does not satisfy the self-life that is
underneath the apparent life of Christ, the self-life will immediately
spring into action and show the true nature of the person’s
relationship with Jesus.
The answer for the Rocky Ground Person is to continually cooperate
with the Holy Spirit in removing the self-life from the rule of the
person and to replace it with the leadership of the Spirit. This is a
process that will work, if we don’t give in to the rule of the
I have found that praying and affirming Galatians 2.20 is a helpful
way to remind myself who should be on the throne of my life. “I have
been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who
lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in
the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians
Thorny Weed People
People whose soil contains thorny weeds are described by Jesus with
these words, “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who
hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of
riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matthew 13.22).
I expect there are few people who don’t resemble this field to some
degree. We are living in a time, when anxiety or cares run very
high. It seems that there is one threatening issue after another
taking place in the world. When we put down the things that distract
us and try to quiet our minds, the anxieties of life flood our minds
and make it difficult for us to respond to Jesus.
Americans have been seduced by the quest for more and more material
objects. The pursuit of money to pay for our lifestyles, can choke out
any voice from the Lord. Many people work long hours and have little
leisure time. Their leisure time is filled with mind numbing
entertainment of all sorts.
Coach Jake Taylor often speaks about taking time for solitude. Getting
alone and away from distractions on a regular basis will open the
gateway of our lives for Jesus to speak. Since we are so preoccupied
with distractions and worry, it may take some time for this to
work. However, if we stay with it, Jesus will speak to our hearts and
give us the leadership we need for life.
Good Soil People
After looking at three unfortunate ways to live, we finally come to
the soil that describes a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Jesus said,
“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word
and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a
hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13.23).
The Good Soil Person hears Jesus’ directions, understands his
directions, and follows his directions. In the Bible, hearing is never
a mere intellectual event. Hearing and obeying are almost
interchangeable in the thinking of the Bible.
I believe the Parable of the Sower has two applications to
people. First, God’s goal is that we become Good Soil People by
hearing, understanding and obeying his direction. I believe that each
of the other soils are intended to be transformed by the gracious
action of God and our cooperation with him into good soil.
Unfortunately, there is a sad aspect to this parable. It describes how
people will respond to Jesus’ message. We all probably know people who
fit the three sad categories and who remain characterized by
them. Don’t stop praying for them. Continue to ask God to draw them to
begin responding in a positive way to Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for this parable. Please work in the lives of
people who are represented by the various kinds of soil. Please help
us through your Spirit to become the kind of people who hear,
understand and obey your directions for life.