The Parable of the Sower

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The parable of the Sower is found in three of the four Gospels. Matthew 13.3-9, Mark 4.2-9 and Luke 8.4-8 contain accounts of the parable. In addition, each of the gospel writers include an explanation by Jesus concerning the meaning of the parable.

Today’s article will feature the parable from Mark’s Gospel.

The Parable of the Sower in Mark

Jesus’ ministry was characterized by actions that demonstrated the fact that the kingdom of God was present and available to people. When Jesus healed people or set them free from evil spirits, he told people that God’s kingdom was present.

For example he said, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11.20).

Jesus also taught about God’s kingdom. He used parables to teach about the kingdom and to introduce further information about it. Mark 4 was one of those times of teaching.

The crowd that wanted to hear Jesus was so large that he was required to sit in a boat to address the crowd. From the boat Jesus told the parable of the Sower and what happened to the seed.

Seed on the Path“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up” (Mark 4.3-4).

Seed on Rocky Ground“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4.5-6).

Seed among the Thorns“Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain” (Mark 4.7).

Seed in Good Soil“Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mark 4.8).

On occasion, Jesus explained the meaning of his parables. The parable of the Sower is one of his parables that needed explanation.

The Parable Explained

On the Path“The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them” (Mark 4.14-15).

I have devoted the majority of my life to teaching and preaching God’s word. I know first hand the truth of Jesus’ words here. Not only do I forget what I preach, many of my listeners forget the words too.

The end result of the word of God “going in one ear and out the other” is that it has no effect on the hearer. God’s word, which is intended to guide, direct and lead people to life is only effective when it makes a difference in a person’s life.

On Rocky Ground“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mark 4.16-17).

In many places in Israel there are rocky plates that lie just under the surface of the soil. They cause the soil to be warm and allow for seeds to sprout quickly. When the sun beats down on the tender plant, it doesn’t have deep enough roots to survive.

Once again, what happened to the seed on rocky soil is a common occurrence in the life of the church. Church squabbles and hurt feelings have revealed the shallow roots of many would be follower of Jesus.

Even the adjustments that have had to be made because of the corona virus has taken its toll on Jesus’ followers. Some of the inconveniences of the pandemic has adversely affected people.

There are places in the world where persecution of Christians is a daily reality. That is another level to the application of this parable.

Among the Thorns“And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing” (Mark 4.18-19).

Many of the people I know get up very early in the morning and work a long day. Some people work two jobs and try to squeeze in family time where they can find it.

There are many distractions that require less “brain power,” than studying the Bible. Television, the Internet, and phone apps are designed to grab our attention.

It is easy to be focused on politics, the Chiefs, social media posts. They seem to be as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe.

All of these issues and many more are ways that we can allow God’s word to be choked out of our lives.

The Good Soil “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mark 4.20).

The subject of hearing comes up 13 times in the fourth chapter of Mark. Hearing and accepting God’s word is the key to living as citizens in God’s kingdom.

Tomorrow’s article will take a deeper look into this subject and Jesus’ use of Isaiah in his description of why he speaks in parables.

Application

As we consider the parable of the Sower to this point, we can respond to Jesus’ teaching in a couple of ways.

(1) Spend quality time reading the Bible in a systematic way. As we read, let’s also pray about what we are reading.

(2) Pray for the people we know who resemble the various soils. Ask God to help us all to be the good soil kind of people.

About This Blog

Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.

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