What is the meaning of the parable of the Sower or parable of the soils? What are the lessons we learn from this parable? How can we better understand its deeper meaning? In this post, let us discover the answers to these questions.
Introduction to Parable of the Sower Story
The Parable of the sower is among the most popular parables of Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah). It teaches us about how people respond to God’s word and the proper way for us to receive it.
In this blog post, you will learn the deep meaning of the Parable of the Sower. When you read this blog from beginning to end, you will learn:
- A quick summary of the Parable of the Sower
- Parable of the sower comparison table
- Four types of soils in the Parable of the Sower
- The meaning of the Parable of the Sower
- Who the sower is in the Parable of the Sower
- The five best lessons we can learn from the Parable of the Sower
- How to apply the Parable of the Sower lessons
Parable of the Sower summary
The parable of the sower is about a farmer who sows seed to the ground. This parable is given by Jesus Christ (Yahshua) and you can read it in three out of four Gospel accounts. Here are the verses:
- Matthew 13:1–23
- Mark 4:1–20
- Luke 8:4–15
To give you a better context, let me share here what Matthew wrote in Matthew 13:1-9:
1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Parable of the sower comparison table
In this table, let us take a look at the different types of soil in mentioned in the Parable of the Sower, their meaning, and the lessons we can learn from it.
|Type of soil
|The birds came and devoured them.
|We must let the Word of the Kingdom to take root in our hearts. If not, someone or something will snatch it away from us.
|There’s not enough soil in this area and thus, the seed didn’t much have much root in it. The sun then scorched the plant and the root withered away.
|It is not enough to receive God’s word. You need to nourish it and ensure that it takes root deeply within our hearts.
|The thorns sprang up and choked the word of God.
|We must put God as our top priority in life. We must not let the cares of this world, the lusts of the flesh, deceitfulness of riches, and lusts of other things to distract us from God’s work.
|Good soil represents the people of God who receive His word and bear much fruit.
|Our main goal in life should be to nourish the word of God in our hearts, let it take root and thrive. Ultimately, we must bear fruit as a sign of our commitment to God.
What is the meaning of the parable of the sower?
The parable of the sower is packed with powerful lessons that we must take heed of today. The message of the parable of the sower is so important that it is recorded in three of the Gospels.
In the Gospels, we could see that Christ was by the sea of Galilee when He gave the parable of the sower. He climbed up a boat and used the platform as a way to reach His audience. This is an important part of the whole discourse because as Luke wrote, “a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city” (Luke 8:4).
What are the four types of soils mentioned in the parable of the sower?
In the parable of the sower, there were four types of soils mentioned. Because of this, the parable of the sower should properly be called the parable of the soils.
These are the four types of soils mentioned in the parable of the sower:
- The soil on the wayside
- Stony place
- Thorny place
- Good ground
It’s worth noting that the field in this parable can represent the world as we can see in Matthew 13:38:
38 “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.”
Who is the sower in the parable of the sower?
In this parable, the sower is more likely to be Jesus Himself. Though in a separate parable, we read in Matthew 13:37:
37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.”
The Son of Man is no other than a title attributed to Jesus (Yahshua).
Of course, Yahshua also sows seeds through His servants like preachers, teachers, and His followers. We are the laborers in God’s work.
What is the seed in the parable of the sower?
The seed represents the word of the Kingdom. We read in Matthew 13:18-19:
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom…”
This is actually what the Gospel is all about.
Let’s read Matthew 4:23:
23 “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
Gospel means the good news. Therefore, the seed represents the good news of the Kingdom of God.
It is quite interesting that in this agricultural setting, Jesus is also enforcing the fact that it is God who gives the increase to our labor. Yes, we can sow seeds as much as we want, but in finality, it is God who nourishes the seeds. It is Him who gives life to it.
The seed that is sown is incorruptible because it is the word of God. That’s what we read in 1 Peter 1:23:
23 …Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…
Not only that but the seed, which is the word of God, is called the truth in Colossians 1:5:
5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…
Thus, you can see that receiving the seed sown by the sower is dramatically important in God’s plan of salvation. Once we receive the seed of the kingdom, it becomes our focus and priority. It comes first in every decision that we make in our lives.
What are the lessons we can learn from the parable of the sower?
Now, we come to the main topic of our discussion today. This blog won’t be complete without understanding the lessons from the parable of the sower. So, in this section, let me share with you 5 of the best lessons we can learn from the parable of the sower.
Lesson no. 1: There will be people who will not understand the word of God
The first ground or soil that was used in this parable is the highway or pathway ground. During the time of Christ and even now, there are pathways through plantations and fields. It allows farmers to reach various places in their fields as well as let other people pass through the field.
Jesus here was saying that some people who will hear God’s word will simply ignore what they hear. The pathway isn’t meant to be a place where the seeds are sown. Its intended function is to be a place where people can walk. Thus, even before the seed takes root, the seed is taken away from them. Worst of all, the seed, God’s word, is trampled down.
There’s no doubt that not all the people in Christ’s audience would take to heart what they hear. Some of them were simply there out of curiosity. Some of them might be there to find fault in Christ’s teaching. Some of them might be there to show off and simply impress other people.
Notice how Christ described the people who received the word in pathway ground:
19 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 received seed by the wayside. (Matthew 13:19)
As you can see, these people hear the word of God, yet they don’t understand it. One reason is they might be deceived by Satan and another reason is that they don’t simply see the importance of God’s word and thus, they don’t exert the effort to understand it.
Because they are unwilling to understand or they are deceived, Satan “comes and snatches away” the word of God in their hearts.
Lesson no. 2: We must endure until the end
The second ground in the parable of the sower refers to the “stony ground.”
This is how Jesus described the people who received the word of God on the stony ground:
20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 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. (Matthew 13:20-21)
Notice how these people “hear the word.” They didn’t ignore God’s word. They didn’t turn their back on it. They immediately receive the word!
However, we must realize that it is not enough to simply receive God’s word. It doesn’t mean that once you have it in your life, you will have it forever.
There will be tribulation and persecution caused for having the word of God in your life.
This is where preachers of the Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel got it all wrong. They believe that as long as you follow God, you will live a life free of worries and problems.
Christ said that if you will follow Him, you must take up your cross or torture stake (Matthew 16:24-26), a symbol of difficulties and trials in your life!
Jesus is saying that if you are going to receive the word of God, there will be trials and persecution.
Thus, Yahshua says:
13 “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
People who receive the word on the stony ground may flourish for a while but they never last. They didn’t let the seed take root deep enough in their hearts.
You must guard God’s word in your heart with all your might.
Lesson no. 3: Set your priorities in life
Now, let’s talk about the thorny ground.
This is what we read:
“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” (Matthew 13:22).
Thorns, cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches — these are the things that choked the word of the Kingdom of God.
This world is full of thorns. We remember that thorns came as part of the changes in the world when man sinned.
We read in Genesis 3:17-18:
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
As you can see, we live in a world where there are a lot of thorns. However, it shouldn’t live within and among us. It is given that this world is full of thorns, but it doesn’t mean that you will also let the thorns spring up in your life.
Because thorns can choke our spiritual growth.
But what are these thorns?
- The cares of this world
- The deceitfulness of richness
- Pleasures of life (Mark 8:14)
- Lusts of other things (Mark 4:19)
What are the cares of this world?
There are just so many things that can catch our attention. This world has so many things to offer and sometimes, we get obsessed and preoccupied with them. Thus, we must choose our battles carefully.
Some people get so obsessed with the cares of this world and the cares of this life that they lose their focus on God’s Kingdom. They spend so much time, energy, and resources on things that they think are important.
The cares of this world may include:
- Watching too much TV
- Playing video games
- Pursuing higher education
- Climbing the corporate ladder
- Running for public office
- Chasing people who don’t want to stay
- Doing our hobbies
- And so many things!
Now, these things are not bad by themselves. There’s no doubt that having a hobby and striving to be the best in your work are good things.
The problem is when you let the cares of this world become your little gods. When you put them first instead of the will of God, you can easily choke the seed that has been sown in your heart.
There are times when our cares of the world can be our needs. We might be worried about our life, our clothing, our food, and our shelter. We might be anxious about what the future holds or will we still have a job next week, next month, or next year.
While these cares of the world are valid concerns, we must always remember that God will take care of us and that He will provide for our needs.
Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-33:
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Of all the cares of the world, Yahshua is saying that we must not make any of them our top priority. Rather, he said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
What is the deceitfulness of riches?
Interestingly, Christ didn’t simply say “riches,” but He added, “the deceitfulness of riches.”
Notice, the thorn is not the riches, but the “DECEITFULNESS” of riches. It is not wrong for you to work hard to earn a living. Everyone should work hard and be diligent in their jobs.
Being rich is not wrong. Abraham was rich and yet, he was called the father of the faithful. King David was rich being the leader of one of the greatest empires of his time. He was called a man after God’s own heart.
The problem is when we trust in our riches more than God. When we believe the lie that says wealth and riches can make you feel fulfilled and successful in life, that’s when the problem arises.
36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Mark 8:36)?
Christ is saying here that you can be the most successful and wealthiest man on earth, BUT if you don’t have God in your life, you are still a failure. If you didn’t let the word take root and produce fruit, then you are unsuccessful.
Yes, this world measures success by how much money you have in the bank. This world may call you successful when you have a brand new car, big house, latest smartphones, and other material wealth.
All these things are nothing if you don’t put God first in your life.
What are the pleasures of life?
As humans, we look for something that satisfies the senses. We seek things that would bring us pleasure, happiness, and thrills. Thus, it is not difficult to see how so many people become addicted to substances that could bring them a mental and emotional high.
We see people who get addicted to sexual immorality, drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoking, gambling, and other harmful vices.
Christ warned us that the pleasures of life, when attained through immorality, can lead to choking God’s word. Yes, we may receive it with all readiness, but if we immediately exchange the seed to this life’s pleasures, then we will not be able to produce fruits.
What are the Lusts of other things?
In Mark 4:19, you will read that one of the thorns that can choke and kill the seed of God’s word is lusts of other things.
What does this exactly mean?
To better understand this language, let’s take a look at the Greek word “Lust,” which is epithumia.
Strong’s Dictionary defines it as “a longing (especially for what is forbidden): – concupiscence, desire, lust (after)”.
Lusting after other things can easily lead us to violate the Tenth Commandment, which is:
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
Lusting after other people’s properties could lead to coveting what is not yours.
And you know what happens when you covet? Read Colossians 3:5:
5 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
As you can see, the lusts for other things is a dangerous problem for many of us. Lusts start in the mind and it attacks the mind.
You can now better see how it can choke the life out of the budding seed of God’s word.
Surely, this only confirms what James wrote:
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:15).
As Christians, we must fight off lust.
It can be a strong and powerful desire for something. If you let it stay long in your mind, it will eventually lead to sin.
Lust can be so violent, aggressive, and even explosive. Its only desire is to acquire something that is not lawfully yours.
If you want the seed sown in your heart to flourish and thrive, you need to get rid of the thorns of the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of life, and the lusts of other things.
Lesson no. 4: We must bear fruit
While it is true that there are many people who have received the word of the Kingdom and failed to keep it, there are still those who received the word and kept and nourished it.
Surely, God’s word will not return to Him empty and it will not be in vain:
10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Thus, we now come to good ground. The Messiah explained:
“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” (Matthew 13:23).
“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:20).
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
As we can see from these three verses, we can learn the characteristics of a person who has a heart of the “good ground.” These people:
- Hear the word with a noble and good heart
- Accept the word
- Understand the word
- Keep the word
- Bear fruit
Hear the word
So, the first step to having a good ground heart is to first hear the word with a noble and good heart.
The word “noble” here came from the Greek word “kalos.” It means beautiful and virtuous. In other words, if you’re going to hear the word of the Kingdom, you need to have the right heart. Your heart should be ready to receive the word of God and make sure it’s fertile soil to ensure you get to nourish the seed God has given you.
Accept the word
Next, you shouldn’t simply hear the word, but accept it. You need to accept it as the TRUTH — the inspired word of God.
We read in II Timothy 3:16:
16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Scripture is not simply a work of man, but it’s a work of God. Its Author is no other than the Most High. If you think that the seed of God’s word is simply a mere literary work of some ancient group of people, you won’t fully be able to bear fruit.
Understand the word
The next part of the process is to understand the word of God. Hearing and accepting the word can only get you so far. As you can see in the lives of those people whose hearts are stony, thorny, and trodden, they hear but they don’t understand God’s word.
Understanding God’s word means you study it and you meditate upon it. You hid it in your heart so that no one will snatch it from you. You exert the effort to study God’s word and you spend a lot of time knowing what each passage in the Bible means.
Keep the word
Now that you have heard, accepted, understood the word, you have to keep it. Keeping God’s word is not simply memorizing verses or adding them to your memory.
You must guard the word. You need to ensure that the devil and his minions won’t be able to deceive you and corrupt God’s word. There’s always a constant danger that Satan will pervert God’s truth and if you are not careful, you may not notice that the word you’re keeping isn’t of faith anymore.
Finally, you must bear fruit. Yahshua or Jesus Christ said:
“Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).
The fruits that we bear are proof that we have heard, accepted, understood, and kept God’s word.
Bearing good fruit isn’t simply an optional piece of advice from Christ. Instead, it is a command. John 15:8 tells us:
8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Bearing much fruit is part of our Christian life. Not only that, but it is also a part of our worship of God the Father.
Now, we all have different levels of conversion. This means that some of us will bear fruit thirty times, sixty times, or even 100 times.
What this means is that we must not limit ourselves. We must always strive to bear as many fruits as possible. We must not be passive. We must not simply stay where we are in our spiritual growth. We must constantly improve spiritually.
Strive to multiply the one seed given to you. By having a lot of fruits, you are also creating more seeds to share around and benefit other people. In a way, you are bearing fruit not just for yourself, but also for other people.
Lesson no. 5: The parables are not for everyone
Here’s something that we must realize that most people missed out during the human life of Jesus Christ here on earth:
“The Messiah didn’t try to save all the people in the world during His first coming.”
If you study into the life of Yahshua (Jesus), you will see that He primarily worked with a select few people. He didn’t beg people to come to Him. He didn’t plead with others to accept Him as their Savior.
This is even more evident when He explained the purpose of the parables:
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matthew 13:10-11).
The main reason Christ gave parables was to hide their meaning!
The meaning of the parables was revealed to the disciples. Jesus knew that every person has their own time. That’s the reason that we read more than one resurrection in the Bible.
Jesus knew that His followers would only be few during this lifetime calling them little flock (Luke 13:32). In the book of Revelation, it is revealed that the first fruits would only be composed of 144,000 people (Revelation 7 and 14).
So, what’s the implication of this understanding? It means that God works in phases. His plan of salvation involves certain steps and not all people will be saved at the same time.
Thus, in preaching the Gospel, when you share the Word of God, it is totally understandable that not too many people will respond positively. There are even those who will simply receive the word initially with great joy but won’t really last in the Christian walk.
Indeed, many are called by few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). There are even fewer who will remain faithful (Revelation 17:14).
You should not be surprised that there will be more people who take the broad and wide gate compared to those who take the narrow and difficult way.
Therefore, don’t get discouraged when you share God’s word and only a few respond. There are even times when there’s no one who will respond! Just like Noah who preached God’s word for a hundred years, yet no one but his family was saved.
The important thing is that we do our part. We sow the seed and allow God to give the increase. He is the Almighty, Sovereign, and Infinite God. He perfectly knows who to call to His Kingdom now. We are simply tools in God’s hands and we must be ready to do whatever it is that He wants us to do.
The deep meaning of the Parable of the Sower Lesson
There’s no doubt, the Parable of the Sower or Parable of the Soils is full of powerful lessons and insightful meanings. It carries the weight of God’s Kingdom. It tells us about the attitude of people toward the Word of God and how we must respond to His Word.
With all these in mind, I hope that you have learned a lot from this Parable of the Sower commentary. May these lessons bless you and help you become a better servant of God!