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The Parable of the Sower

The Parables of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus seems to be addressing the reactions to His words and ministry that He had seen through that same day (Matt 13:1).

1. The Parable of the Sower

A. The Context of the Parable

Matthew 13:1–2 KJV 1900
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Notice how the verse begins, “the same day.” That is important. What else has happened on this day?
The Pharisees had complained about the disciples picking corn on the sabbath(Matt 12:1-9). Jesus heals on the sabbath (Matt 12:10-21). Jesus healed a demoniac and was accused of doing it by the power of Beelzebub (Matt 12:22-37). After all these things, the scribes demanded Jesus to show them a sign (Matt 12:38-45), and Jesus rebukes them for their unbelief. Later, His mom and brothers are waiting to get His attention, but Jesus attention is turned instead to those who were responding in faith to His message (Matt 12:46-50)
These things matter, because they give us a clue to why exactly Jesus goes into this parable.

B. The Content of the Parable

So Jesus tells this story:
A sower sows seeds
Some seeds fall on the path and the birds eat them
Some seeds fall on stony ground. They take root, but wither away in the sun.
Some seeds fall among thorns, but the young plants are choked.
Some seeds fall in good soil where they grow and produce seed.
He closes the story with this statement, “who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
What would you be thinking after all that? Would you be confused? Would you be waiting in vain for an explanation? Why does Jesus speak in these riddles?

2. The Purpose of the Parables

You are not alone. The disciples wanted to know too. So they asked Him (Matt 13:10). Here was His response.
Matthew 13:11–12 KJV 1900
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. 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.
Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and concealing; presenting “the mysteries of the kingdom” to those who are hungry to learn them; but to those who were not truly interested they served only to entertain and confuse.
Let’s break down Jesus response:
For whosoever hath—that is, keeps; as a thing which he values.
to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance—He will be rewarded by an increase of what he so much prizes.
but whosoever hath not—who lets this go or lie unused, as a thing on which he sets no value.
from him shall be taken away even that he hath—or as it is in Luke (Lu 8:18), “what he seemeth to have,” or, thinketh he hath.
It is a use it or loose it principle. God was giving all who heard an opportunity to be in His kingdom, but they had to respond to the measure of divine revelation presented to them.
Jesus’s use of the parables was a nod to the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, when he dealt with a similar level of apostasy.
Isaiah 6:9–10 KJV 1900
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; And see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, And make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Israel in Isaiah’s day was blind to their sin and deaf to God’s warnings of repentance. So also was the case in Jesus day, only worse so. They were blind to the very Light of the World walking in their midst and deaf to the message of the kingdom. Paul puts it this way.
Romans 11:7–8 (KJV 1900)
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
Saul of Tarsus (later named Paul) became a personification of these words, when he experienced Christ on the Damascus road. He was zealous to persecute the church, in the name of the Lord, but it was not until the scales fell from his eyes that He truly understood that He was actively persecuting the God whom He claimed to serve.
For us (gentiles) this spiritual blindness on Israel’s part was a part of God’s plan of redemption
Romans 11:11 KJV 1900
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

3. The Explanation of the Parable

A. The Sower and His Seed

In this parable Jesus is the sower, and the seed He sows is the Word. In the Greek, He sows the λόγος (Logos) which means word of message.
John 1:1 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He is preaching everywhere he goes a message of repentance.
Matthew 4:17 KJV 1900
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

B. The Way Side

Matthew 13:19 (KJV 1900)
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.
Many today are spritually blind.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV 1900)
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Satan works to keep people blind to their sin. He offers them so many pleasures and distractions to keep them on the path to destruction.
John 3:19 KJV 1900
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

C. The Rocky Ground

Matthew 13:20–21 KJV 1900
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 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.
Jesus makes it clear that there would be those who would quickly make professions of faith in Him as Christ, but these would be short lived disciples. As soon as persecution arose or the message got offensive then they would depart. It would not be long after this parable was given that this portion would manifest in the fall out after feeding the 5000 (See John 6).

D. The Thorny Ground

Matthew 13:22 KJV 1900
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.
1 John 2:15–16 KJV 1900
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.
The irony, of course, is that one of the 12 chosen by Jesus would be this kind of soil. Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus for 13 pieces of silver.

E. The Good Ground

Matthew 13:23 KJV 1900
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 was the kind of hearer that Jesus was after. He desired through dispersing the word to all to find some who would take it in. These would allow the word to do it’s proper work and in time they would produce more fruit and scatter more seed.
(If time permits see John 15:1-8)
What kind of soil are you?
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