MATHEW 13- The parable of the sower
In the book of Mathew, chapter 13, Jesus speaks in parables. This was the method used for teaching spiritual truths at the time. A method in which Jesus used quite often. Parables give us the ability of seeing the truth of God's word by comparing the teachings with life experiences. Here, Jesus spoke with a multitude of people. He told them about how the word of God is received by different people and their responses to it. It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone treats the hearing of God's word the same. In this parable, Jesus compares, the word of God (the seed) and how the seed is sown into the various types of ground to how people hear and respond to it.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mat. 13:3-9
There are four types of people who are being compared in this parable. Later on in this chapter, starting in verse 18, Jesus explains the meaning of the parable. The first type of people are the ones who hear the gospel but does not response to it, because they do not understand;
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
This part of the parable is explained in verse 19, which says;
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. Mat. 13:19
Again, the 'seed' here is the word of God. The wicked one is Satan and his followers. Since the seed has been sown ' by the wayside' which is ground that is trampled upon (hard ground), it can not root at all and therefore can not grow. So these are people who do not respond to what they have heard (they do not grow in their faith). The verse says 'does not take root in their heart', therefore they are at the mercy of the devil's wishes, which is to keep them from turning to God.
The second type of person is given to us in verses 5 and 6;
Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
These types of people hear the word and initially are filled with joy, but are spiritually weak (no depth of earth). As soon as any type of persecution arise because of their faith they encounter problems. This explanation is given in verses 20-21;
But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
The third type of people are the ones who do hear the word and although their faith starts to grow, they let the issues and worries of the world, overtake them which results in them loosing what they have learned. Verse 22 gives this explanation;
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Lastly, there is the group of people described as having true faith. Seed that is sown in good soil and grows to produce a bountiful crop. Producing a bountiful crop is the reference to the evangelist who spreads the good news of the Lord and becomes a true servant of God;
8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
This explanation is given to us by Jesus in verse 23;
23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
In verse 9 it says, He who has ears to hear, let him hear! This is simply, he who truly has enduring faith, understands what he hears and has a true yearning toward the Word of God, One who is truly regenerated, let him hear (understand) and produce that bountiful crop.