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The Sower Parable

Updated on January 28, 2011

Reflections on the Sower Parable

This parable known as the parable of the sower and the seed is an important parable found in the three synoptic gospels. It is actually a parable about soils – the four kinds of soil in the human heart, or the four kinds of responses by the heart of man to the word of God. The first kind of soil is that which was on the road or pathway – hard and impenetrable soil. Luke says that the seed fell beside the road, and was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up, Luke 8.5. ‘Trampled under foot’, trampled by the feet of men. When the word of God is preached to people who are full of human knowledge and philosophy – the ideas and ideologies of men – it is very difficult for the word of God to enter into such hearts. These are hearts that are hardened by the deceitfulness of human wisdom. And the deceitfulness of human religion, human tradition, human riches. It is very difficult for highly educated people to come to Christ; they are indoctrinated by false beliefs such as evolution and existentialism (a form of atheism). They are full of reverence for so-called ‘science’ that they have no room in their hearts for divine revelation. We have found it very difficult to preach the gospel in rich upper-class neighborhoods. Similarly we find a dark and suffocating cloud hanging over regions that are dominated by religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism; you can sense the ‘suffocation’ in your spirit.

The second kind of soil is that which is termed as ‘rocky soil’. Luke says it had no moisture. These are people who do not have much ‘depth’, do not have a ‘deep root’ – people with a shallow heart. Under the scorching sun of temptation and trial, they wither away. Our Lord makes it very clear that you may receive the word on a superficial level and with apparent ‘joy’ – but this is only temporary, because you fail to understand that there is ‘affliction and persecution because of the word’, Mark 4.17). There is a false preaching these days about the gospel – the gospel of gifts and blessings, prosperity and power. It is a false charismatic gospel that eliminates the need for the cross, the need to suffer for the word of God. If we read the Book of Revelation we find that John was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God (Rev 1:9); again we read in Rev 6:9 of the martyrs who were slain because of the word of God; and in Rev 20:4 of those beheaded because of the word of God. We receive the word of God on a superficial level, without realizing that the word must be tested and proved in our life, but we lived out in our experience, and that involves ‘tribulation and perseverance’ – for ‘indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’, 2 Tim 3.12. The soil has no 'moisture' (Luke 8.6) because the heart has no evidence of the Holy Spirit; the message is received on an intellectual or emotional level - but not by way of divine revelation.

The third kind of soil is full of thorns, and these sprang up and ‘choked’ the growth of the true seed. The cares and worries of life, arising out of temporal and material concerns; the deceitfulness of riches, arising out of a desire for earthly security; the pleasures of life, rising out of the need for fleshly gratification in an impure heart; the desires for other things (and not the heavenly and spiritual things) – these choke the true seed of the word of God and there is no fruit brought to maturity. The thorny soil shows that there are already other kinds of seed in the soil of the carnal heart; there are passions and desires that are not crucified. There are believers who call themselves carnal, whose life is so dominated by the flesh and love for the world, that they yield only ‘thorns and thistles’, weeds and worthless stuff - and such a ground ‘ends up being burned’, as is stated in that fearful warning in Heb 6:7,8. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Heb 10.31. It is fatal to have a double-mind and a divided heart. The Bible makes it very clear that we must have a 'single-heart' - a heart of utter devotion to Christ. We see that in the case of Mary of Bethany (Luke 10.42), David (Psalm 27.4), and the apostle Paul (Phil 3.13, 14).

The Lord speaks of a fourth kind of soil, the good soil, which produces a crop which is thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and even a hundred-fold. This is obviously a well-ploughed and well-harrowed soil, from which all stones and thorns have been removed – the heart in which the cross has done a deep work. Luke 8.15 tells us three things about such a heart. First, it is an honest and good heart. Man’s heart, by nature, is crooked and deceitful and desperately sick, Jer 17.9. This is the new heart given by God Himself, when one is truly repentant and born again, Ezek 36.26. Secondly, it is a heart that ‘holds fast’ to the word of God. This ‘holding fast’ is allowing the word of God to take deep root in one’s life. A truly born-again child of God will live by the word of God. He hears the word of God and understands it (Matt 13.23); he accepts the word of God (Mark 4:20), knowing that he will have to suffer for it; he holds fast to it, saying ‘Lord, let it be done to me according to Your word’ (Luke 1.38). Thirdly, as the cross does it deep work in the life of a believer, in due course, after much perseverance, in God’s time, the fruit comes up for God’s glory and for the blessing of those who come in touch with such a believer. He is a tree planted firmly by the rivers of water, which yields its fruit in its season; his leaf is always green (it never withers); and in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3, Ezek 47.12.


This is a brief meditation on a popular parable. May it be a blessing to you as you are determined to follow Christ in your Christian walk, carrying your cross. Matt 16.24. I do not have to tell you that the seed bore fruit only in the fourth kind of soil, so do not make excuses for yourself that you are a carnal Christian or a worldly believer; God is not interested in shallow, half-hearted, carnal and worldly Christians. He wants those who are whole-hearted, single-hearted and are determined to follow Christ, come what may.

© Pratonix


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    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Michael Adams1959 7 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      Very well written and useful, great hub

    • profile image

      Mary Assaf 7 years ago

      Very beneficial ! A reminder how it is important to check which kind of soil our heart is, and not miss the boat!