“He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or ever a hundred times.”-Mark 4:2-8.
The parable of the sower is unique in that it is one of the only parables that Jesus takes the time to explain to his disciples.
Jesus begins his explanation of the parable by referring to the seed that is sown: “The farmer sows the word.”-Mark 4:14. The seed Jesus refers to in Mark 4:2 is the Word of God. After identifying the seed, Jesus then goes on to use the parable to explain how the Word of God, once it is scattered, will be received by those who hear it.
The people receiving the seed are the types of soil. The parable identifies four different types of soil upon which the seed is scattered; including the hard path, rocky soil, thorny ground, and good soil. The inclusion of numerous soils indicates that we can expect a lot of mixed reaction and response to God’s Word.
The beauty of this parable is that God’s Word, the seed, never changes; it’s the hearers that are different. The seed is broadcast on all kinds of soil; because the gospel message is for all people. It isn’t reserved for certain individuals but rather it is scattered among all types. However, how we receive it has eternal implications.
All four soils are exposed to the seed but the results vary depending upon what type of soil the seed falls upon:
“Some people are like the seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”-Mark 4:15
These are the hard-hearted. Those who have not accepted Christ or whose conversion is incomplete; having sought forgiveness but have never repented of their sinful lives. This is evidenced by their unregenerate lives. The word is sown, but because it is not truly received, Satan takes it away.
“Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”-Mark 4:16-17.
These are those who embrace the benefits of the gospel but are too shallow to stand and remain during the hardships, trouble, and persecution that come with following Christ.
“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”-Mark 4:18-19.
These are those who have conformed to the pattern of this world. They are bound up by the worries of this life and have been seduced by the deceitfulness of wealth. The word of God they had once readily received has been choked out, forgotten, and rendered virtually ineffective.
“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”-Mark 4:20.
These are those who allow God’s word to sanctify their souls, renew their minds and transform their lives. God’s word will always produce an amazing harvest in soil that is prepared to receive and accept it.
Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church