SBS Sermon Notes
SBS     Sermon Notes     Note 01/10
English - parable = story told to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth
Hebrew - mashal = similitude, proverb
Greek - parabole = similitude

The Parable of the Sower


Spiritual concepts, designs, structures and realities are often misunderstood by us mortals, simply because they are invisible to the human eye. Messiah knew this and used parables to unveil and explain "things which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 13:35). Indeed he never preached a sermon without using a parable (verse 34). To the spiritually 'blind' the parables were at best 'mystifying tales' of little value. But to those with spiritual 'eyesight' they were visual aids, dramatic word-pictures of real life truths. Parables unlock spiritual mysteries hitherto beyond the believer's comprehension. Virtually every good teacher the world over uses 'parables,' ' illustrations' and 'visual aids' to put across his/her lessons. So effective was this method of preaching that when the Saviour had finished one great session of parabolic instruction he asked this question:
Matthew 13:51 'Have you understood all these things?' They say unto him, 'Yea Lord.'

1. The Sower

He went forth

Matthew 13:3 Behold (look, see, turn your attention to) a sower went forth (he went out of his way) to sow.
The Master Sower is the Saviour (see verse 37); but in this parable other sowers (Apostles, ministers, missionaries, ordinary believers etc) are also involved in sowing. They too go forth, go out of their way, to sow. Sowing requires knowledge, will, effort, endurance and seed. The good sower has all these.

He sowed unsparingly

On the wayside, stony places, among thorns and on good ground. There are no reservations here, but with deliberate tread the sower works, ensuring that every piece of land within his reach is covered with seed.

2. The Seed

The Word of God

verse 19 When one heareth the Word of the Kingdom ...
20 ... the same is he that heareth the Word ...
21 ... persecution because of the Word

NOTE: From these verses we can see the good seed is the Word of God, especially as it relates to the Kingdom of God. How little is heard these days about the Kingdom of God. Preachers must also beware of sowing 'corrupt seed,' 'counterfeit seed,' 'seed mixed with tares,' seed that is not based on the Real Word of God.

3. Four Types of Soil / People

The Wayside

verse 4 Some seeds fell by the wayside.
19 These are those who hear the Word of God and understand it not.
Many souls fail to understand the message of the Kingdom of God in the Word of God. To them it is a mystery: deep, irrelevant and not worthy of much attention. Before the sacred seed can germinate in their minds it is snatched away by the Evil One. It is forgotten.

The Stony places

verse 5 Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth.
20 The same is he that heareth the Word and anon with joy receiveth it. 21. Yet hath he no no root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by they are offended.
This, sad to say, is a common occurrence in the church. It needs little if any explanation. People give up productive work in Yahweh's field for all kinds of trivial reasons. But the most common is that they are offended because of tribulation and often by a lot less. So be on your guard and do not let offences blight the harvest in your life. If your spiritual roots go deep you will not whither when tribulation arises because of the Word of God.

The Thorny ground

verse 7 Some fell among thorns and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.
22 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.
This is also a sad situation for a soul to get into: poverty on the one hand, and riches on the other. Look about you in this world and you will see how prevalent these two conditions are. Extreme poverty on the one hand and unhealthy wealth on the other. Are they not choking spiritual productivity?

The Good Ground

verse 8 But other seed fell into good ground
23 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 and some thirty.

5. Self Analysis

Broadly speaking the parable of the Sower is telling of 4 types of people. These have been explained. Looking deeper we detect 4 types of responses to Yahweh's Word; responses which can and often do exist in even the best of believers.
  1. I cannot understand the message
    This is when a truth from Yahweh's Word is heard and not immediately understood. No effort is made to investigate, examine and discuss the message. Because it is not easily grasped, (or perhaps even feared) it is quickly rejected without further investigation. Are you - on occasions - guilty of responding to the Word in this way? Do you reject a truth simply because you cannot understand it?
    Or are you like the ancient Berean believers who with all readiness of mind searched the Scriptures daily? (Acts 17:10-11). These are important questions because they classify your response to the Word of God. Beware of the wayside mentality, the one that rejects truth because investigation may prove too much of a challenge.

  2. No staying power
    This reaction to truth is very common. Believers rejoice when new truth is presented. They are thrilled with it; but it isn't long before they are offended. Like marriages that break down, their love for truth collapses at the first difficulty, they become offended and give it all up. They bear no fruit because they have no staying power, no spiritual stamina or depth of soil.

  3. Reacting to circumstances
    This condition - economically or spiritually - can be extremely dangerous. I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing (Revelation 3:17) is a common reaction to the Word these days; but it is a fatal one.
    Or, I'm too poor to produce any results; it's easy for the rich folk. These believers forget the fact that spiritual growth is much harder to achieve for the rich than for the poor.
    Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

  4. Bearers of fruit
    This is the only praiseworthy reaction to hearing the Word of God. No matter what His message may be, when it drops into the soil of your mind,
    1. Examine it and make every effort to understand it
    2. Prove it against the whole of the Scriptures
    3. And when you are sure that it is the Word of the Most High, then obey it.

    This is the only response to Yahweh's Word that will win His favour. If you do these things you will bear fruit. Sometimes 100 fold: on other occasions 60 fold or even at worst 30 fold. Can you find a farmer who is producing harvests as bounteous? The benefits of investing in the things of the spirit are incalculable. No earthly business project comes anywhere near the above mentioned gains.

    SBS     Sermon Notes     More sermons based on Parables

    Elder: David B Loughran
    Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
    Updated: May 1999