PARABLE OF THE SOWER
Leslie M. John
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, 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. (Matthew 13:4-8)
The essence of the parable of the sower, as described in three synoptic Gospels by three different writers was to show how Satan does not allow weak in heart and mind to obey the word of God and tempts not to yield to the Lord.
It is the same parable from Lord Jesus Christ that the three Gospel writers presented in similar way except that Matthew used a phrase at one place as the “kingdom of heaven” while Mark and Luke called it as “kingdom of God”.
This parable is not presenting to us a theme as to what the local church and the universal church are, as a preacher described them as, based on two different phrases that is the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God” respectively. He said “kingdom of heaven” is the local church and “kingdom of God” is the “Universal Church”.
The Scriptures make it clear that Christ is the head of the Church (Ekklesia) and we are all baptized into one body. There is no difference in His body, whether we are Jews, or Gentiles, are bond or free, men or women. Local church is an entity in a local area, but it is not separate from the body of Christ. Church is not a building with four or more walls but it is the body of Christ. It is as the Greek Strong’s number 1577 “ekklesia” defines it and the definition is:
“a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):–assembly, church”
Lord Jesus Christ said He will build Church upon Himself and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. If Christ has said those words, then there is no other interpretation that the Church will diminish or reduce in growth, no matter how effectively or how ineffectively a preacher presents the Word of God.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. (Matthew 16:18)
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
The Gospel writers wrote the words of Lord Jesus Christ, who said the ‘seed’ in this parable represents the Word of God, and the sower is God’s servant who proclaims the word of God. There are four categories of people about whom the Lord addresses here in this parable.
The places where the seed fell were described by the Lord as
- “by the wayside”,
- “upon stony places”,
- “among the thorns” and
- “into the good ground”.
These four places represent four categories of people.
While the Word of God is proclaimed to the world in different places to the men with different yielding attitudes, the prince of this world, that is the Satan, takes undue advantage of the weakness of the hearers, who are reluctant to yield to the word of God, and takes away from them the word of God.
The sower, who is God’s servant, who is used by the Lord, as the instrument in His hands, proclaims the Word of God everywhere he goes. He proclaims the Word of God indiscriminately to all categories of people, without any prejudice.
In this parable the Lord says a sower went forth to sow, and as he sowed some seed fell by the way side, and some fell upon stony places, and some fell among thorns.
- The seed that is the Word of God that fell by the wayside was picked up by the fowls; they devoured it up.
- The seed that is the Word of God that fell on the stony places could not spring up because there was no depth of earth for the seed to grow its roots and stem. When the sun came up the seed was scorched and withered away.
- The seed that is the Word of God among the thorns did not spring up because the thorns choked them.
- The seed that is the Word of God that fell on the good ground brought forth much fruit, some hundredfold, some sixtyfold and some thirtyfold.
Lord Jesus warns that whoever has diligence could open their ears to hear the word of God and hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
The seed that fell “by the wayside” shows that those who have heard the Word of God do not take the Word seriously and eventually they allow Satan to takeaway what was sown in their hearts.
The stony places are the hard-heartened hearts of men who receive the Word of God happily with much joy but as there is no root in them, or just as the rock prevents root to grow in it, the man with stony heart will not endure in the Word of God, but when he faces tribulations or persecutions in his life he gives up his holy life in God and leaves the righteous life.
Those who receive the Word of God among the thorns, which represent the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, lose their stand in the Lord, because the thorns choke the good seed sown in their hearts and eventually he/she becomes unfruitful.
Gospel writer described it as
“But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold”. (Matthew 13:8)
Gospel writer Mark described it as:
“And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred”. (Mark 4:8)
Gospel writer Luke described it as:
“And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hea”. (Luke 8:8)
Careful observation shows that Matthew presented the increase in reverse order, i.e. as “brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold”, while Mark presented it as “and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred” and Luke presented it as “bare fruit an hundredfold” without writing anything as “sixtyfold” or thirtyfold”
Should presentation cause the fact to be represented as diminishing the fruit that the workers or hearers bring forth? No, not at all! Three different authors presented the growth in three different ways. Overall, it showed increase not decrease. It all shows that some were not as fruitful as others and it does not show downward trend.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. (Romans 10:17