Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15
The Parable of the Sower
Having cleared the introduction to the “Parable of the Sower” yesterday, we take up the parable itself today. Yesterday we saw the emphasis on God’s sovereign choice in election – His gracious movement in the hearts of some that they may hear the word of God and believe. Without this movement of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of wayward man, no one would be saved at all. It is impossible for anyone to save himself; but all things are possible for God, even a man’s salvation (Mark 10:27). Yes, this is how wicked man is.
Today, we see how this parable shows us this truth in glaring colors through the imagery of farming, something the people of that day would have understood, though they were incapable of grasping the meaning behind the imagery. The seed is the word of God. The sower may be a preacher, or anyone sharing the gospel. But it’s the soils that are forefront in this parable. They represent the hearts of those who hear the word of God and respond accordingly. The soil along the path hardly has time to comprehend the word before the devil snatches it away; their hearts are so hard that the word makes no headway with them. The rocky soil manifests the shallow heart. Their “Christianity” is nominal, or merely a crutch, or something that helps them to get along or feel better about themselves. (There are many who use the faith in this “therapeutic” way.) The soil where the word is choked on account of thorns or weeds shows the ones who refuse to place the Lord ahead of their possessions, or their secret sins, which cause them so much stress and anxiety. They are idolaters, though they do not see it. Finally, we see the good soil which receives the word as it is, the uncompromising word of God, which must capture and captivate our hearts.
So the parable teaches us that man has a responsibility to respond to the call of God, but that response is clearly an indication of the heart. Whether his heart be hardened by sin, caught up in some view of the gospel alien to its intention (therapeutic, name it-claim it, self-help), or deceived by riches or enamored by a sin he just won’t relinquish (which is idolatry), the result is all one and the same: losing the kingdom of God. Now, I know that we can all see ourselves in each of these “soils,” and that’s a good thing. I’ll never forget a wise Sunday School teacher who told me when I was but a youth that God uses the Bible to beat us over the head, and she meant believers. We should see ourselves in God’s word and repent accordingly. But Scripture also shines the light on why unbelievers behave the way they do. The Bible provides us with spectacles through which we may understand the world we live in.