We all love the Parable of the Sower and know it well; but let us again look closely at this parable; looking first at Jesus’ use of the word seed. We can not misunderstand what it represents, for Jesus himself gave an explanation in verse 18; he says, “it is the word of God”.
It is good seed for it is the good news of the Kingdom of God. It is the Gospel of God’s own Son. It may seem tiny but it will grow. Within it holds great potential. In it lies hope for the souls of men and women, for it is the seed-corn of salvation.
So much for the seed: now let us look closely at the sower! The sower who scatters the seed on the soil.
There can be little doubt that Jesus saw himself as the ‘sower’. The parable is like a biography. It lays out his life’s work, the meaning of his mission, and the purpose of his preaching. By preaching and teaching he, the Heavenly Sower, scatters precious seed; i.e Gods words.
Like the earthly sower, he has tilled hard soil, for the souls of many were hard and unreceptive. He had to work among those hardened by sin – the publicans, the prostitutes, and the self-righteous. Sinners are like the hard soil, but Jesus sows in hope.
The Gospel had been preached with great grace, and without discrimination, to all. Jesus has harrowed the hard furrow, and trodden the painful path on rocky ground. He had prayed and suffered for the soul of men and women, in the hope of reaping a rich harvest.
So much for the seed and the sower! What of the soil?
“Ah!”, says Jesus, “the soil is the heart or soul of the hearer, it is the hearer’s very self.”
“Some”, says Jesus, “are like the wayside”, like that hard-beaten path across the fields where the chalk is near to the surface. Their hearts are hard, resistant to receiving the Word. – Sin harden the soul; and with hardened sinners the sower’s work seems in vain. – All that harrowing and sowing seems wasted; indifferent to the Gospel and the word of God.
Spiritual sclerosis has set in the soul. Habit has thickened the skin. The Gospel is rejected; and soon Satin snatches away the seed least they should believe and be saved’ (Matthew 13).
And there are shallow hearts, said Jesus; men and women who are superficial; people with no depth. They are like the stony places because they have no deepness of earth… and because they had no root they withered away’.
They are the rootless for they seldom pray, or read or meditate upon the things of God. Life is lived at shallow edge of the field. They are emotional, easily swayed, quickly converted; and as quickly turn back. These’, says Jesus, ‘receive the word with joy; but have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of testing fall away.’
And “hearts that are choked,” said Jesus. – People’s lives cluttered with all kinds of baggage. – The seed sown in their heart becomes choked. – Usually they are busy people – but too busy with the wrong things!
Their constant excuse for neglecting things more worthy is: “I’ve no time”. – Prayer is crowed out; Bible reading neglected; churchgoing displaced by other activities. – Their hearts, said Jesus, become choked with the cares and the riches of this life – they can bring no fruit to perfection.
He knows some soil is poor, but knows too that the seed of the Gospel is good and It holds tremendous potential for our lives.
Lastly, said Jesus, there are not only hard hearts and shallow hearts and choked hearts; but also good hearts. These Hearts are receptive of the good seed; the Word of God.
These are they, with an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it and bring forth its fruit in abundance.
The Gospel, said Jesus, is good seed, and when sown in honest hearts will produce thirty, sixty, a hundred-fold!
And the question each one of us needs to answer for ourselves is this: – what sort of soil are we?
The sower has planted his seed – the rest is now up to you. Amen.
Rev’d Rob Eardley