ROBERT >> What can we learn from a man who goes out to sow seed in the ground? Jesus uses this parable to teach us something very important about our hearts. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> Jesus’ parable of the sower is recorded for us in the Bible in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And here Jesus not only tells the parable, but he also gives the interpretation of that parable so we can understand it and apply it to our lives today.
I want to read the three accounts of the parable; and as we’re reading those accounts, I want you to look for three main elements in the parable: The sower, the seed, and the soils.
So let’s look first of all at Matthew chapter 13, and we’ll read verses 3 through 8. Here the Bible says: “Then he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But 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 sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: Some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
Now take a look with me at the book of Mark, and I want you to notice how Mark records the telling of this parable.
In Mark chapter 4, let’s begin in verse 3. Here the Bible says, “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: Some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” You’ll notice Mark is very similar to Matthew, but each of these accounts give us a little bit more to look at.
Look at Luke the 8th chapter, and let’s notice verses 5 through 8. “ A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold. When He had said these things He cried, He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Let’s ask some questions today to bring our focus on the sower and the seed and the soils. First of all, let’s ask today, What did the sower do in the parable of Jesus?
Well, we just read how that he went out to sow his seed.
But then what happened to that seed?
Well, we noticed that it fell on different types of soil. And what were those different types of soil, and what were the different results of the seed that fell on each type of soil?
And if you remember the parable we just read, those on the wayside, that seed was trampled down, and the birds came, and they devoured the seeds on the wayside soil. Those seeds thrown on the stony ground immediately sprang up; but they were scorched by the sun and they withered away because they had no root and they lacked moisture. Those on the thorny ground, they grew up, but they were choked by the thorns. And finally, that seed on the good ground increased and produced, yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. That’s the parable of Jesus. That would have been a very familiar story, and you may have looked around while he was telling that parable and seen somebody there sowing in the field. And I think we’re familiar enough with that that we can imagine in our minds somebody out sowing seed, and that seed falling on these different soils. But now let’s take that very familiar story, that earthly story, and let’s see how Jesus interprets that and look for the spiritual lesson, the heavenly lesson that Jesus was really trying to teach with this parable.
Let’s go back to Matthew chapter 13, and let’s read the account of his interpretation as given there, Matthew 13, beginning in verse 18. “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 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 receives seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 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. 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. 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.”
Now, this is the interpretation as given by Jesus here in Matthew 13. The interpretation of Jesus is also recorded in Mark chapter 4 and in Luke chapter 8. And we may make some references to those passages as well as we go through and we see what Jesus was trying to do with this parable. But let’s notice first of all, who does the sower represent?
He represents someone who is going out here and spreading the word of God. Just as this man was spreading his seed, so Jesus is telling us this one represents one who’s spreading the word of God. We know that because we know what the seed represents.
In Luke 8:11, where the interpretation of Jesus is given there, the Bible simply says that the “seed is the word of God.”
The word of the kingdom of which he was preaching in these parables. So the seed represents the word of the kingdom, the word of God.
What then do the different soils represent that are mentioned in the parable: the wayside soil and the thorny ground and the rocky ground and the good soil?
These soils, as we’re going to see as we work through this parable, represent the heart of the hearers.
It represents the attitude of those who hear the word of God. How do they receive that word, or do they receive it? And how does that word influence their heart?
Well, let’s take a look at each of these various soils that were mentioned in the parable and see how Jesus describes the hearer represented by these soils.
First of all, how does Jesus describe the hearer represented by the wayside soil? You remember, this is the one who Jesus says hears the word and he receives the word, but he doesn’t understand it; and so the devil comes and he takes it away, lest he believes and is saved. This is one who has a lack of love for the truth. Maybe there is a prejudice in his heart. Maybe there’s some kind of indifference in his heart. Maybe he has this pleasure to do what God doesn’t want him to do and involve himself in all kinds of unrighteousness; but whatever it is, it keeps him from truly seeing, accepting, understanding, believing, and obeying the truth.
If you’ll look with me in your Bibles in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, we read about this kind of heart, and we’re warned that we take heed to our hearts today.
Notice here in 2 Thessalonians in chapter 2, beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 12, here’s what the Bible says: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.´
Paul here in this passage teaches us if we don’t really love the truth and want the truth, but rather our pleasure, our desire is in doing what’s wrong, then we will believe a lie, and we’ll never come to a knowledge of the truth.
Sometimes it’s our pride in our heart, a desire for popularity that keeps us from understanding and accepting the truth.
Look in John the 12:42-43. This was the problem with many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, especially among the sect of the Pharisees. And it was this kind of prideful heart that infected many in the time of Jesus and also infects our hearts today.
John chapter 12, look at verse 42. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
We need to be careful that that attitude does not keep us from receiving and believing and obeying the word of God. Because of our own pride, our desire to be accepted by others and received by others, we might have that word taken away from us, out of our hearts.
And then look at another passage if you will with me in Hebrews 3:13, where it warns us about the deceitfulness of sin. In this passage the Hebrew writer says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
You see, our earthly desires, our fleshly desires lead us astray, and we get involved in sin in our life. And sin is very deceitful. It lies to us. And because of that desire to do what is wrong, to go the ways of the flesh and the ways of the world, often we are blind to the truth, and we fail to receive it and to believe it and obey it and take it into our heart. All of that was represented by the wayside soil. And he warns us to guard our hearts against it. But now let’s take a look at another type of soil mentioned in the parable.
How does Jesus describe the hearer that is represented by the stony soil?
Well, Jesus tells us this is the one who hears the word all right, and he receives the word with gladness and he receives the word with joy; but it has no root in him so to endure, and he only believes for a while, he believes for a time. But then when tribulation and persecution and temptation comes, he stumbles and he falls away.
That’s the interpretation given by Matthew and Mark and Luke. And this is the one who obviously is without a strong conviction. He doesn’t have a good commitment to the Lord. He’s failed to count the cost of following Christ.
In Matthew 10:22 Jesus said, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.”
Jesus is telling us that eternal salvation is for those who will keep on keeping on in their faith, enduring whatever persecution or trial or obstacle the devil might put in their way.
You might notice with me what he said in Luke 9:23, because Jesus wanted us to understand what it meant to really be a follower of him. Here he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Jesus said real discipleship involves a denial of one’s self; not just a denial of the things that we might have, but of ourselves. And then to take up our cross.
And what is the cross?
It’s a symbol of death. It points us to the death of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. And so we must die to sin and be willing to die for Christ and follow him not just some of the time or maybe even most of the time, but all of the time.
He says, “Take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”
Look at it in Luke 14:25-35. Here, Jesus says to the multitudes that were there, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
You see, Jesus Christ must be first in our life. We must put Jesus before anyone else; and then that’ll help us to love our family and others and even ourselves better in a way that Christ would have us to. We’ll be better husbands, we’ll be better fathers, we’ll be better followers of Jesus Christ when we make him the priority of our heart and of our life. Jesus told us to count the cost of following him, of being his disciples.
Read on a little further with me here in Luke chapter 14, and let’s pick it up in verse 28. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish?”
Jesus reminds us here in this story that we need to count the cost.
Are we willing to surrender all?
Are we willing to continue with Christ to the very end and finish what we began?
He gives another illustration of that here in Luke chapter 14. As we read on now, notice here in verse 31, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
And so we need to think very seriously about following Jesus Christ. We need to count the cost. We need to make that commitment to Jesus Christ, or we’ll be like that rocky soil. Maybe we’ll receive Christ, and maybe we’ll confess him and become a Christian; but if we’re not committed completely to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, we’re going to fall away quickly when persecution or whatever it is the devil puts in our way comes, because we haven’t really committed ourself to him.
In Colossians 2:6-7, the apostle Paul reminds the Christians there in that congregation, and we need to be reminded as well about this very same thing. In verse 6 he says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
And then also notice with me in Ephesians 3:17-19, where he prayed for the church, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Are you rooted, are you grounded in the love of Jesus Christ?
Does the faith of God dwell in your hearts today, lest you stumble and fall and lose your soul?
James the 1st chapter, look with me in verses 2 through 4, where he reminds us about the attitude we must have towards the trials that come into our life. He says here, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.”
You see, trials are going to come; but let’s rejoice, recognizing that it’s a test of our faith. And passing that test, meeting those trials with solid, committed faith in Jesus Christ, he will use that to strengthen us to build our character, to make us who we need to be, pleasing to God, a vessel that can be used to his glory and to his honor. Jesus gives us this promise, and I want to leave this promise with you today to encourage you.
Revelation 2:10, Jesus simply says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Yes, whatever it is that Satan is putting in your way today, your faith can be sustained, your faith can be strengthened because you know that there’s a great reward of eternal life awaiting you on the other side of death. So I encourage you today to take heed to the warnings of Jesus in this parable, to not be hard hearted or blind or let prejudice or bias or your desire for this world in sin to keep you from receiving God’s word like those seeds that fell on the wayside, and that you’ll make a total commitment, that you’ll surrender your heart completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, lest anything cause you to stumble and to fall like that seed that fell on the rocky ground and grew up, but quickly it withered away. And I hope that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.
SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come,
from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth, yea,
SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me he died, on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan;
oh, the grace that brought it down to man;
oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you so much for watching our program today on the parable of the sower. And Lord willing, we will continue this parable and complete our study of the parable of the sower next Lord’s day.
If you have any questions or comments or requests about our program, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like more information about the lesson today, or if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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All of our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.