Jesus Gives the Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1-23

While near the seashore, Jesus had what the Bible called a “great multitude” following him that he wanted to teach.  So that many people could hear, he sat on a boat a little off shore and the people gathered on the shore to hear him teach.

Jesus began teaching a parable, a story that to some simply sounds like a nice story to hear, but it’s a story that has a deeper meaning for those who really want to understand the message.  In each parable, there are parts of the story that represent something in real life. Jesus usually taught parables that teach about the Kingdom of God. These stories used things the people understood well to teach things of God that they did not yet understand.

The parable he taught this time was the parable of the sower.  A man went to sow seeds, by spreading them in different areas in hopes they would sprout and grow something to harvest.  

The Sower by Vincent Van Gogh

The Bible continues Jesus’ story:

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

When Jesus finished the story, he said “who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  This seemed to mean that he was finished telling this nice story, but there is deeper meaning to find, if you really want to find it.

His disciples asked why he taught in parables.  Jesus told them that many of the people are not ready to hear all of Jesus’ teachings.  They are not ready to listen, follow, and be converted and healed. But he said that his disciples were ready, so he gave them the meaning of the parable of the sower:

In this story, the seeds represent the teachings of Jesus, or what he called the word of the kingdom of God.  He was teaching his listeners how they should receive his words.

The seeds that went by the wayside and were eaten by birds represent people hearing the word of God that do not understand, and maybe don’t really try to understand the teachings.  Jesus taught that Satan, the evil one, tries to take away the teachings that went into those people’s hearts. This helps us understand that if we don’t listen and obey and follow the words we are taught, we will lose all benefit of Jesus’ words.

The seeds that went to stony places represent the teachings of Jesus that are heard by people who like the teachings, but never let the teachings go deeper and really affect the way they live their life.  Jesus said they receive the word with joy, but when hardship comes the gospel doesn’t seem to help them because although they listened, they really did not fully obey. The gospel did not have deep roots in them so it withers away.

The seeds that went among thorns represent the gospel taught to people who listen to the word, but care too much of the things of this world and riches and worry too much about what other people think of them (and not what God thinks of them) that these other cares make the gospel a much smaller part of their life.  Because of these other priorities, the gospel never really brings anything for them to harvest.

The seed that went to good ground represents the gospel taught to people who listen and then follow the teachings.  The gospel brings forth good things in their life. Like a harvest, the person receives much more than they started with.

What do you think?

  • Why did Jesus teach using parables?
  • How should people learn the deeper meaning of the parables Jesus taught?
  • Do you think there is only one correct way to understand the parables?
  • In the parable of the sower, what makes the biggest difference for people to have a good harvest from the word of God?

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