sowerAs evangelical Christians, we are all committed to sharing the Word of God with others. In likening this activity to the sowing of seed in a field, Jesus tells us what we can expect to happen as we do this and why.

Join us for mid-week study during the month of June at 6:30 PM in the McShaffrey home as we explore Matthew 13 together.

A Parable with a Purpose

Most people think of parables as “earthly stories” that are simply intended to illustrate “spiritual truths.”

This is one aspect of parables, but the disciples perceived they were more complicated than that (Matt. 13:10).

In Matt. 13:11-17, Jesus explained that his parables were intended to conceal just as much as they were to reveal.

More specifically, Jesus’ parables were a fulfillment of the covenant curse prophesied in Isaiah 6:9-10.

This may be a hard truth for some to receive, but it is how Jesus introduced the parable of the sower.

Re-naming this Parable

It would probably be more accurate to call this the “Parable of the Soils” than “The Parable of the Sower.”

The parable does teach us about God’s relationship to this world: He, like a sower, is at WORK in it.

The parable also teaches us about God’s work: His WORD, like seed, is being sown promiscuously.

Both the sower and the seed are here pictured as doing exactly what they should be doing (c.f., Isaiah 55:10-11).

The “mystery” (vs. 11) here is anthropological rather than theological: Different responses to God’s Work/Word.

The Hard Heart

The “wayside” was the hard-packed path in the field which represents hardened hearts (Matt. 13:15).

The “birds” represent Satan’s work in preventing people from receiving God’s truth (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Reminder: Neither the sower nor the seed cause this problem, but sin and Satan are to blame.

Self Examination: How well-trafficked is my heart? How has the devil taken advantage of this?  

Good News: God is abundantly able to thwart Satan’s purposes and melt even the hardest of hearts.

The Shallow Heart

The “stony places” consisted of an inch of warm loose dirt laying on top of a bed of limestone.

While the seed quickly springs up in this case, deep rooting is prevented and the plant withers in the heat.

Modern Equivalent: Revivalism’s shallow and emotional decisions do not endure long-term.

Self Examination: How much have I admired revivalism? In what ways does our church mimic revivalism?

Good News: Time spent deepening our faith will produce steadfastness in the true believer (Colossians 2:6-7).

The Crowded Heart

The “thorns” represent worldly preoccupations which prevent God’s Word from producing fruit.

The “cares of this world” are anxieties over inherently lawful things (e.g., food, drink, clothing, etc.).

The “deceitfulness of riches” is that money will solve our problems and satisfy our souls.

Self Examination: How much time and effort do I devote to spiritual things? How much to material things?

Good News: To those who seek first the things of God, all lesser things will be granted (Matt. 6:33).

The Receptive Heart

The one thing that distinguishes the “good soil” from the others is this: Understanding the Word

Notice that the soil didn’t really “do anything” other than to receive or “hold fast” the seed (c.f., Luke 8:15).

Interestingly, even with the good soil, we see imperfection (i.e., varying degrees of fruitfulness).

Self Examination: Why do I produce thirtyfold or sixtyfold rather than a hundredfold?

Good News: Any fruit at all is a sure sign that our hearts are indeed open to God’s Word.

Grace Reformed Church is committed to providing free exegetical and reformed Bible study guides online. Please feel free to use or share these outlines as you please (with appropriate attribution).