The Parable of the Sower is repeated in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8). When the disciples did not immediately understand the Lord’s meaning, He carefully explained it to them, leaving us with no doubt as to the interpretation. “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). The soil represents the human heart (Luke 8:15). The birds that ate up the seed by the wayside represent the devil and his work (Luke 8:12).
We are commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:18). We are to go forth with weeping, “bearing precious seed” (Ps. 126:6). As we do so, the parable of the sower illustrates the fact that we will see four different reactions and results to our efforts.
Notice that the sower goes forth to sow. Apparently he is casting seed everywhere: on the wayside ground, stony ground, the thorn-covered ground, and plowed up ground. This illustrates the fact that we are to share the gospel with everyone – no matter how difficult or hopeless the situation may appear. We aren’t called to interview the ground to see if it deserves the seed, but to cast the seed everywhere. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus as “good ground?” Don’t worry, there’s no danger in running out of or wasting the gospel seed. God has enough for all mankind. You can’t take the gospel to the wrong person.
Notice the first and last groups mentioned. Some seed falls by the wayside. The heart is hard, unreceptive. The birds quickly snatch it up and fly away. Nothing spiritual happens. There is no new birth. The last group mentioned is the “good ground.” Broken up, receptive to the seed. It is received, and with a good and honest heart brings forth fruit with patience.
What about the two middle groups? Well, Jesus said plainly that each “received the word” (Mt. 13:20,22). In Acts 2:41, the 3000 on Pentecost “gladly received his word,” which means they got saved. Now, the salvation of these two groups of people may not fit into certain man-made theological systems, but it does fit into the revelation of God’s word and the reality of those who seek to win souls to Christ.
One group is represented as STONY GROUND.
Matthew 13:20-21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; (21) 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.
Did he receive the seed? Yes. Was he glad he received the word? Yes, “with joy receiveth it.” “Anon” means “quickly or immediately.” He is excited, he is happy, he quickly says yes and receives the word. So, what happens? “Yet hath he no root in himself.” Because of the stony ground, he is not rooted. The stones interfere with his growth. He only endures for a while. Everyone is excited about what has begun to happen in his life. BUT as soon as things get HOT, he withers away. There is no moisture, no deep root, no nourishment.
The stony ground person has a lot of life issues that hinder his growth. He is glad to get saved, but he does not get rooted into the scriptures (“moisture”). He has no stability. He lacks the character to remove the stones. He does not get rooted into the church. He is glad to receive the word, he endures for a little while, and then when things get hard or difficult, he is offended, he stumbles away, and doesn’t produce any fruit.
Was this person saved? I believe the one illustrated in the parable represents a person who is saved. Is every person who prays a prayer and comes to church for a little while saved? I don’t know. Only God, the devil and that person really know their spiritual condition. I believe some do get saved – but character and life issues are not dealt with, not removed, not broken up, and they lack the character or discipline to really live for God.
I also believe, unfortunately, that some professions are false, and I would challenge those who say that they are saved but show no visible evidence – “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
THE THORN-INFESTED GROUND.
Matthew 13:22 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.
Here is someone else who “received seed.” But he is “among the thorns.” Over time, the thorns (the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of this life), choke the word.
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
He “becometh unfruitful.” He brings “no fruit to perfection.” To illustrate, I have two cherry trees that had never produced any cherries, to the point that I began to wonder if they were even cherry trees. Then, this year, one of the cherry trees began to produce cherries. Unfortunately, they never grew any bigger than BBs. Then, they fell off – worthless and inedible. It illustrated to me many a Christian – they begin to show some promise, they begin to produce some fruit, but it never comes to perfection or maturity. Soon, they are choked out by financial problems, the pursuit of careers, the love of things, marriage problems, etc.
WHY DON’T SOME PEOPLE “STICK?”
Is it because we aren’t preaching the gospel? If so, how do you explain those that hear the same message and DO “stick?” We’ve had people saved in their homes and saved in the church services, and they listened to the same gospel presentation. Those who criticize winning people outside the church services would have to admit – if they are honest – that many who make professions in the church services do not “stick” either. But many do. So what is the difference?
Do some present the gospel sloppily? Absolutely. Some preachers and church workers have NO IDEA how to actually lead a person to saving faith in Christ (the same often mock those of us who still use the tried-and-true Roman’s Road to present the gospel). Kids are dealt with poorly at VBS and in church and sent on their way, told that they are “saved” when they aren’t. 20 years later they are lost church members. We’ve seen that a lot from churches that are liberal in their positions. My own father was baptized at 16 in a Southern Baptist Church during a revival – and no one showed him how to be saved. They just dunked him and he went on his way, lost, until he finally got saved as a deacon more than 30 years later!
Why don’t some “stick?” Some aren’t saved. No doubt about it. Yet others ARE saved, but they are like stony ground. Lots of character issues. No roots. No moisture. They endure for a while and then, when things get uncomfortable, they wither away. Others are like thorn-covered ground. The job interferes. The wife doesn’t want to go to church. The finances are a mess. The kids don’t like the rules. He works on Sunday. He takes a transfer for more money and doesn’t think about the spiritual repercussions. Instead of putting God first, this person is choked out.
And everyone says, “What happened to So-and-so? How come we don’t see people stick anymore?”
Maybe the Parable of the Sower gives us some insight into that.
I do know this – it is our job to sow the seed. One plants and another waters and God gives the increase. Let us be faithful to go and sow, and trust that the seed at least is faultless, though the ground it lands in is often very flawed.
Thank you for reading. God bless.