By Swan LeBlanc, Penang, Malaysia
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)
During the time of Jesus’ ministry, He often taught about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth through parables. For example: the parable of the wheat and the tares, the grain of mustard seed, the ten virgins, the prodigal son and many more.
A parable is a symbolic story that teaches gospel truths by comparing them to earthly things. Jesus said that His purpose in teaching with parables is to simultaneously teach his message to his disciples and conceal it from unbelievers.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matt 13: 10 – 13).
The parable of the Sower, as found in Matthew chapter 13, shows how various people receive the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 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 (New Testament, Matthew 13:3 – 8).
The story or the parable is simple:
A farmer went to sow seed in his field.
- Some seed fell on the paths, and the birds quickly ate them all up.
- Some seed fell where there were stones and rocks and very little soil. The seed germinated and the plants grew, but because there was not soil there was no root, or very little root. The sun soon dried them up, and they withered and died.
- Some seed began to grow in places where there were a lot of weeds. The weeds out grew the plants and soon they choked and strangled the plants to death.
- But some seed fell on good ground. The seed germinated and put forth deep roots into the soil. The plants grew well and eventually bore fruit, and the farmer had a good harvest from these plants.
Now let us read the explanation of this parable as given by Jesus in Matthew 13: 18 – 23
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (New Testament, Matthew 13:18 – 23).
The explanation of the parable is also simple.
From these scriptures we understand that the seed represents the word of God.
- The WAYSIDE represents people who hear the word of God but do not understand it or do not want to understand it. These people have no principle of righteousness in them. Their hearts are full of iniquity and have no desire for the gospel truths. Satan quickly takes hold of their hearts and just as quickly drives away the small amount of the word of God that has been place in their hearts. I imagine there is no room in their hearts for the gospel truth. These must be the people who reject the missionary’s effect, who slam the doors in the face of the missionaries, who mock the Church and us, the members of the Church. Some of these people may even be among our friends. Some of them may even be among our own family members.
- The STONY PLACES represent people who hear and receive the word of God but do not allow it to take root or grow in their heart. These people, when they first heard the gospel, feel the spirit and come to church for a very short time. They soon fall away, because their understanding of gospel principles is as shallow as the soil in stony ground. As soon as they are faced with difficult times they fall away. They are easily offended. These people may be investigators who come to church for a short while and then stop coming. These may even be people who are baptized into the Church then soon after fall away for various reasons.
- The THORNY PLACES represent people who hear the word of God, accept the gospel, get baptized into the Church but then get distracted by the care of the world, such as money, pride, lying, cheating, materialism, keeping up with the Jones’, peer pressure, gluttony, selfishness, or laziness to name but a few distractions. These people do not endure to the end. They allow the care of the world to slowly, over a period of time, cloud their minds and to become more important to them than the gospel of Jesus Christ, to draw them away from the truths. Therefore, they eventually die in spirit before they get a chance to bear any fruit. The care of the world will eventually choke and strangle their root and kill them.
- The GOOD GROUND represents people who hear the word of God, and understand it (because they want to). They work hard to do works of righteousness and endure to the end. These are the people who have a strong testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe in Him and trust Him. They are productive, because they serve the Lord by carrying out His work on this earth, by sharing the gospel with others, by fulfilling and magnifying their callings, by keeping to the covenants they made with God when they were baptized. They strive to keep all the commandments of God. They serve with love. They follow the examples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of their faithfulness and their service, they are truly blessed. The Lord does not take without giving back. He harvests the fruits from our labour of love and obedience. In return He blesses us with the fruits of his love and the sacrifice He made for us.
This parable was recited to demonstrate the effects that are produced by the preaching of the word of God. It tells us that not everyone accepts the gospel with the same degree of commitment, and shows the consequences that follow the different degrees of commitment.
From “The Parables of Jesus The Messiah” ( pg. 30) Elder Keith Howick said:
The Parable (of the Sower) taught clearly where the responsibility lay with regard to the kingdom of God and the reception of the gospel. It was not with the sower and it was not in the seed – it was in the ‘soil,’ the heart of man.
This parable teaches us about ourselves and our commitment to the gospel. One of the many great gifts and blessings the Lord has given us is free agency. We have the ability to choose for ourselves which type of ground we want to be for our seed to grow in. Which one will you choose to be – the stony ground, the thorny ground or the good ground, you decide.