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The Gospel of Mark #11 - The Parable of the Sower & the Soils

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The Gospel of Mark #11:

The Parable of the Sower and the Soils

Text: Mark 4:1-20

Thesis: To stress the importance of preparing your heart to receive the Word of God.


(1)   Oftentimes, Jesus spoke in parables.

(a)    “The Gospels record some sixty different parables of Jesus, most of which are found in Matthew and Luke, fewer in Mark, and none in John” (Edwards 127).

(b)   It has been estimated that at least 1/3 of Jesus’ recorded teaching is found in the parables (Wiersbe, Windows on the Parables 15).

(c)    A parable has been commonly defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

(d)   The word “parable” means “a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

(2)   The purpose of His speaking in parables was two-fold (Mark 4:10-12):

(a)    To reveal certain teachings to those on the inside

(b)   To conceal certain teachings from those on the outside

1)      The truth of the matter is that parables were always obscure.

2)      “It was only after one had accepted a teacher and his message that the teaching given in a particular parable became understandable” (Schubert 56).

(3)   In Mark 4:1-2, “the crowd was so great (some believe it was the greatest yet in his ministry) that Jesus was forced to preach from a fishing boat” (Hughes 1:103).

(4)   From this boat, Jesus told the parable of the sower and the soils:



I.                    The Parable (vv. 3-9):

A.     “The parable of the sower is framed at the beginning and end with a solemn call to attentive hearing. With this call Jesus involves his hearers in the situation he describes and leads them to form a judgment upon it” (Lane 153).

B.     “The parable drew upon a rich agricultural image with which they were all familiar: a man with a seed bag tied to this waist, walking his field and rhythmically casting the seed” (Hughes 1:104).

C.     In the parable, the sower cast his seed upon 4 different types of soil.

1.      First, some seed fell “by the wayside.”

a.       “The farmers’ fields in ancient Palestine were long, narrow, often serpentine strips divided by little paths which became beaten as hard as pavement by this feet, hooves, and wheels of those who used them. The seeds merely bounced on these paths or were swept back and forth by the wind” (Hughes 1:105).

b.      As soon as the seed fell, birds took it away.

2.      Second, some seed fell on stony ground.

a.       “In Palestine much of the land is a thin 2- or 3-inch veneer of soil over a limestone bedrock. Here some of the seed falls, the warm sun quickly heats the seed in the shallow soil, and the seeds sprout in feverish growth. But then the sun beats down, the plant’s roots meet the bedrock, and it withers and dies” (Hughes 1:107).

b.      The seed is not able to get enough root in order to grow properly.

3.      Third, some seed fell “among thorns.”

a.       The seed seems to be growing properly.

b.      However, the roots of a thorn bush were far reaching in the Palestian soil, but it took some time for the thorns to grow out through the field.

c.       Therefore, in time the thorns would stop the seed from any further growth.

4.      Fourth, some seed fell “on good ground.”

a.       Here, the seed is able to take root and grow without obstacles such as thorns.

b.      Because of this freedom to grow, the seed is able to produce of great crop of 30-fold, 60-fold, and even 100-fold.

II.                 The Application (vv. 13-20):

A.     In the parable, the sower represents any teacher of God’s Word, the seed represents the Word of God, and the various soils represent the various hearts of the hearers of God’s Word.

B.     The sower isn’t responsible for the yield, but for spreading the seed.

C.     When the seed is sown, there will be various reactions to it.

1.      Some people are like the wayside soil and have so hardened their heart that it will not allow the Word of God to take root.

2.      Some people are like the rocky soil.

a.       “This represent the ‘emotional hearer’ who joyfully accepts God’s Word but does not really understand the price that must be paid to become a genuine Christian. There may be great enthusiasm or several days or weeks; but when persecution and difficulties begin, the enthusiasm wanes and the joy disappears” (Wiersbe 1:123).

b.      They never allow to Word of God to change their heart.

3.      Some people are like the thorny soil.

a.       These people were once living for God but have allowed the things of this world to come before God.

b.      They have a divided heart (cf. Matt. 6:24) like the heart of the girl to which a young man once proposed. He said, “Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world. I want you to marry me. I’m not rich. I don’t have a yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all my heart.” She thought for a minute and replied, “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.”

4.      Some people are the good soil.

a.       These people accept the seed and allow it to take root and produce a great crop.

b.      “Not all true believers are equally as productive; but from every genuine Christian’s life, there will be some evidence of spiritual fruit” (Wiersbe 1:123).

D.     We must prepare our hearts to receive the Word of God (cf. Ezra 7:10).


(1)   Which type of soil best represent your heart?

(2)   If not the good soil, would you come to Jesus today and have Him change your heart (cf. Psa. 51:10)?

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