Mark 4:1-9 NIV
1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Matthew 13:3-9 NIV
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
In this parable, Christ uses the agrarian metaphor, which would have been understood by everyone, as agriculture was the primary means of support.
Because of this, I believe the spiritual message of this parable would have been the easiest for his crowds to understand.
The parable explains how different people respond to the saving message of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus.
The primary teaching is about one’s faith and the growth of one’s faith, or lack thereof.
THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF THE PARABLE
The farmer doing the sowing is Jesus Christ.
The seed is the Gospel or word of God.
The birds represent Satan.
The HARD GROUND represents those who have hardened their heart against God and when they hear the word of God, they ignore it. Satan has this person “lock, stock and barrel.” This soil is packed hard. This hard ground makes it impossible for the seed to take root and grow and as it lies on the surface, the birds feast on it.
The STONY GROUND represents those who are aware of the Gospel, willing to listen to the Gospel and accept the Gospel. However, when trouble comes, as it surely does, their faith is not strong enough to stand firm in their belief. This seed has a shallow root system and will easily die out under stress. Again, their faith is surface and shallow.
The THORNY GROUND represents those who accept Christ, but have many other things in their life with a higher priority. They are concerned with wealth and riches, material things and other cares of this world. These concerns dominate their life and the seed of the Gospel cannot grow.
Finally, we come to the GOOD SOIL which represents those who have heard and received the word of God, allowing it to take root and grow within their life. This person represents salvation with sure and steadfast faith, which produces “good fruit” throughout their lives.
APPLYING THIS PARABLE TO OUR LIVES
The hearer of the word of God can do one of four things;
They can reject it immediately.
They can accept it, but turn away at the first sign of trouble or problem.
They can accept it, but then allow their worldly cares or concerns to dominate and control them.
Or, they can accept the word of God in total and live a life of obedience, faith and trust, thereby producing fruit for the Kingdom of God.
The primary lesson in this parable, is about the believer’s faith and their spiritual growth.
Farmers know that in order for their soil to be productive it must be properly tilled, fertilized and watered.
Are we doing the things in our life to ensure that we are growing spiritually, with a steadfast and sure faith? Are we doing the necessary tilling, fertilizing and watering to grow our faith?
We need to give this thought and meditation on a regular basis.
In this life, I don’t believe we will know the amount of crop that we are yielding for God’s kingdom.
However, we can gauge and will know if we are growing spiritually and in faith.
If we make sure of this, running the race with endurance and perseverance, the yield our spiritual life produces will be much more than was sown.