Summary: The parable of the sower is a picture of the seed of the Word of God. There is amazing potential in that seed, but we must provide the right kind of soil for it to grow.
This is the 40th message in the series I call “Parables and Miracles.” The word “parable” means, “to throw alongside.” A parable may be an analogy or metaphor where Jesus lays down a natural truth and then throws a spiritual truth alongside it. But in addition to the multitudes of word pictures Jesus used, some parables are actual stories. To distinguish these from analogies, I call these stories, “classic parables.” In Matthew 13, we come to the first classic parable, “The Parable of the Sower.” It is followed by six more classic parables in this chapter.
Jesus was a great storyteller, so let’s read His words beginning in Matthew 13:1-9.
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears let him hear.’”
We won’t read this next section because we covered it when I began this series, but it explains WHY Jesus taught in parables. Spiritual truth is so valuable that you need to be willing to dig beneath the surface to find it. We don’t have to wonder about the meaning of this parable, because down in verse 18, Jesus explains it. It’s as if He’s saying, “Since this is my first parable, I’ll give you a freebie. I’ll explain this one plainly to you.” “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has not root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understand it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”
Would you like to know how to multiply your influence by 100 times, or 60, or 30 times? In this parable Jesus teaches the secret lies in understanding the power of a seed. The largest known seed is that of the Coco de Mer tree which can weigh 60 pounds. The smallest seed is that of an orchid. Several orchid seeds can rest on a speck of dust. A seed contains life. It may be small, but it contains tremendous potential.
Most of you know one of our members, Dr. Sasha Vukelja, has written a best-selling book about her life. She entitled it Seeds. When she speaks to groups, she talks about the power of a seed. Since I knew I’d be talking about seeds today, I asked her for a quote. She writes: “Seeds look lifeless, but inside is great potential. When you buy a packet of seeds, you’re not buying the little brown things inside, you are buying potential. You are buying the picture of the beautiful yellow daisies on the package. And with the right soil, those seeds will realize their potential.” The same can be said about the seed of the Word of God. There is amazing potential in that seed, but we must provide the right kind of soil for it to grow.
I. FOUR SOILS SYMBOLIZE FOUR WAYS TO RECEIVE GOD’S WORD
I’ve been preaching for 40 years. That’s a lot of preaching, but that’s also a lot of watching people listen to me preach! As I look out across this room, I see some folks who have their Bibles open; their pens and paper ready to fill in the notes. They are almost literally sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for a word from God. However, there are many others who are only casual listeners—they’re paying attention, but don’t really see the need to open their Bible or take notes. And there are others who are bored; they are yawning already. Their biggest concern at this very moment is “When is this going to be over?” Two people can hear the same message and one says, “Wow! God really spoke to me today!” While someone sitting next to them can scratch their head and only wonder what they meant.