PARABLE OF THE SOWER
BY: TROY NICHOLS
Luke 8:4‑15 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, what might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
- There were many different people in this crowd that came to hear Jesus, which presses me to ask the following questions. How serious were they? Did they really know or understand what Jesus was saying to them? Did they understand the cost that Jesus was presenting through His Word? Were their minds on other things while He was speaking the Word? Were they hoping that Jesus would say something that would help to encourage and lift them up?
- I think it interesting to point out that when all these folks from different backgrounds come, he spake by a parable. I have been around a lot of people and have always heard that Jesus spoke in parables so that those outside His circle couldn’t understand what He was saying. I believe there to be an element of truth there for we read in Luke 8:10 where Jesus said to His disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” However, after studying this out, I see another reason that Jesus would perhaps speak in parables. Those He was speaking to had eyes to see, but saw not. They saw His works but yet didn’t see what those works were pointing to. They had ears to ear but heard not. They heard Jesus speak, but did not profit because they didn’t understand what He was saying. Thus, another purpose for speaking in a parable would simply be to lead them into knowledge of God by giving them natural representations of spiritual truths that they might be enticed to come and ask what the spiritual meaning is of that which has been presented to them. Oh, that leaders today would be humble enough to lay the lofty revelations and doctrines aside and just present a simple parable or story to prick the heart of man to draw closer to Christ.
Luke 8:5 A sower went out to sow his seed:
- I think it interesting to point out that due to the constant threat of violence in this culture, there were walls erected around the towns for protection. The sower therefore had to leave the security of his home as he went outside the walls to sow his seed.
- Jesus left His home of security and peace, left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, left His position upon the throne of the universe. In exchange, He suffered many things from those that professed to know God. He was tempted by the devil, deserted by His followers, but yet still sowed seed in the hearts of those that came to Him and then watered that seed with His blood (life).
- Those that follow Christ must be willing to leave their place of security in order to sow the seed of God in the world in which they abide. We can see a picture of this in Mark 10:29-30 where Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
- I know many cringe at the fact of the thought of leaving family behind, but once again, we need to look at the culture in which this was spoken to glean the deeper truth contained herein. In this Eastern culture, the shepherds and servants have little if any time to see their wives and children. They leave their homes and children in order to care for the flocks. The servants were required to be on duty all the time and be ready for service throughout the night. These servants would eat and live in their masters house and visit their own homes at various times, when given permission by their master (Jesus is our master) to do so. Their time and attention are taken with their master’s house, his wife, his children and his household chores; thus, their own families receive second attention.
- I want to stress here that Jesus was not telling His disciples to literally forsake their wives and children. He was teaching them that they must be closely attached to Him and thereby concerned in the work of His Kingdom before any other interests, including family. Simply put, they were to forget their wives and children and material interests for a season to win the confidence of their Lord and learn the secrets or mysteries of His Kingdom. Their families were to take second place and then later, they would be rewarded one hundred fold for faithfulness. Instead of loving their own fathers, mothers, wives and children, they would be trained to love the whole world. Instead of being loved by their natural family only, the whole world would love them. And, after reaching this point, all material possessions would be at their disposal.
- I trust you see and understand now that you must be willing to leave old associations, you must be willing to have your plans or desires set aside for a season, you must be prepared to be hurt, betrayed and deserted by those that say they love you. You must be willing to not only sow the seed, but to water that seed with your life. Simply being, you deny yourself (your desires) in order that many others may be blessed.
- The sower sows the seed in the field. We look in Matthew 13:38 and see that the field is the world.
- The sower sows HIS SEED! Every seed brings forth fruit after its kind. Sow the seed under the right conditions, and it will develop its own life in the plant. Even so, sow the Word of the Living God under the right conditions in the right soil or heart and it will bring forth a character and life after the likeness of the character and life of God.
- There are four different areas in this field (world) and in studying each area; you can easily determine the condition of your heart and thereby get a better understanding of how to live a victorious life in Christ.
I want to close this message out by showing you the following truths and principles concerning the seed.
- Luke 8:11 tells us that the seed is the Word of God.
- Jn. 1:1, 14 tells us that the Word is the Son of God.
- The seed therefore is the Son of God. We can see a picture of this in John 12:24 where it reads, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn (seed) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
- There is a powerful revelation in the above verse that we need to grasp. Note the relationship with the seed and the ground. If the seed didn’t fall into the ground and die, it would abide alone. Simply put, there would be no relationship with the ground which speaks of the heart of man. Jesus laid down His body (shell of seed) in order that the LIFE in Him might come forth in the ground or heart of man and thereby He could fellowship with man and not abide alone.
- I Jn. 3:2 tells us that we are the sons of God.
- I Jn. 4:17 tells us that as He (Jesus) is, so are we in this world.
- We as sons of God are also the SEED of God. Matthew 13:37‑38 bears this out where it reads, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good SEED are the children of the kingdom.
- We walking in the footsteps of Jesus set out to come into the hearts of man by laying our lives down. When man receives us into their heart, in not many days, they will begin to experience the life within us now coming forth in them and out of that will come spiritual fellowship one with another. We can see a picture of this in I Jn 1:1-4 where it reads, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father (spirit), and with his Son Jesus Christ (anointed word). And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
Jesus is going to sow you and I as the good seed of the Kingdom into the field, which is the world (Mt 13:38). And, upon sowing us, we are going to find ourselves coming into contact with four different types of ground or hearers. Knowing that, I think it imperative that we understand each of them in order to be able to effectively minister to them as well as identify what type ground or hearer we may be at this present time.
- Note that all the soil is basically the same earth. It is what has happened to it or what has been added to it that affects how it produces.
- If the Word of God fails to accomplish its work in your life and heart, the reason can be found in yourself. We can see an example of this in Hebrews 4:2 where it reads, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”
Luke 8:5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
Luke 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
THE WAYSIDE HEARER:
- The term for the untilled ground located at the outer edge of the field is the pathway or the wayside. The soil of this area becomes solidly packed (crammed, filled to capacity) due to repetitive walking over by the workers as well as the beasts (oxen). The plow has come over this path but never cut into it. This type hearer represents those whose hearts have become hardened.
- This type ground couldn’t receive the seed so it speaks in principle of being in a state of mind where you become calloused to the word of God. We are pressed here to ask the following question? What happened to bring me to a place where I can’t hear God? How about this, our hearts get hard because of what people do to us and what we do to ourselves. Each time we are hurt or rejected, the temptation comes to withdraw and upon doing, the process of hardening begins.
- Since this type ground can’t receive the seed in its condition, it also speaks in principle of a person who is not rooted and grounded in the Word and thereby will manifest up and down patterns in their lives. Simply put, they will be on the top floor one day and in the basement the next.
- When the word comes to this type hearer, it is trodden down which speaks of putting something down (under your feet). We can see a picture of man putting Jesus (Word) under their feet in Hebrews 10:28-31 where it reads, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
- The wayside person will hear the word. Matthew in his account of this parable states that when one hears the word of the Kingdom and doesn’t understand it, then cometh the wicked (people with twisted minds) one to snatch away that, which was sown in their heart. This particular word understand in the Greek is used in one sense of coming together with in union. Thus one characteristic of one whose heart is hard is that they will not become one with the word that they heard. Simply put, they will not accept the Lord into their lives.
- The wayside hearer in principle has no intention of receiving the seed (word) when they come together: as the highway was never intended to be sown. These will sit in service and the word will go in one ear and out the other.
- Right after a word has been delivered to you through a spirit filled minister, you will be pressed to do one or two things. One, walk away from them or two, join with them in serving the Lord.
- Note that the devil hangs around this type of ground (hearer) in hopes of keeping you in the same condition that you are in by stealing the Word out of your heart, lest you believe and be saved.
- We have already established the fact that we as children of the Kingdom are GOOD SEED. Knowing this, you need to understand that not only does the devil want to take the Word from you; he wants to take this one from you that has come to you as SEED. How does he remove one that has come to bring you life? Well, how about considering these methods. After hearing the Word, someone comes up to you and begins to criticize the messenger and thereby causes you to become critical also. After hearing the word and then going to share it with someone, you are told to stay away from that certain minister, ministry or church. Many there are that have come to a local church and been touched and then left because of something that someone told them about the church.
- This type hearer needs to understand that this Word which is coming to them has within it faith and deliverance. Romans 10:17 reads, “So then faith cometh by (ek- out of) hearing (also translated report), and hearing (report) by (dia – through) the word (rhema – spoken word) of God.” Simply put, faith comes out of the report and the report come through the Son of God as He speaks out of His body in which we are. We are to live by the faith of the Son of God (See Ga 2:20).
- Note the devils purpose is to keep you from believing and being saved or delivered. Knowing this, I say to one in this condition to be on the lookout for those that try and persuade you to stay away from a person or ministry that is carrying a Word that will set you free. Selah
Luke 8:6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
- Matthews’s account of this parable states that those on the rock have no root in themselves and endureth for a while: but when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by they are offended (Mt 13:21).
- Mark’s account of this parable states that some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away (Mk 4:5-6).
- The backdrop here is a shallow ground with a layer of bedrock just under the surface. The roots of the plant go down deep into the soil and hidden from sight, they nourish the plant, which is seen on the surface. So it is with the children of God, it is by their invisible union with Christ that their life is spiritually nourished.
- The stony hearer will receive the word and will receive it with joy. These however will fool you if you are not careful. Simply put, you will see these respond to the word in a positive way only to see them a few days later walking in defeat for they have no root. There are things in their lives they are not letting go of and thereby the word can’t get rooted in them. What is your bedrock? Is it unforgiveness, habits, bitterness, anger, worldly desires, jealousy, etc.?
- The stony hearer will endure only till tribulation (pressure) or persecution comes because of the word they received into their ground. Simply put, they will love the word till it begins to press them in areas of their lives that need to be changed and then they will get offended at the word and the one delivering the word and thus begin to withdraw or fall away. These simply didn’t count the cost. They didn’t consider what the Word required of them. They didn’t bring the word face to face with all their habits of life and yield themselves fully to the Lord.
- You must note that the stony hearer person after hearing the word will spring up quickly. Once again, this is a great principle for leadership as they wonder so many times how one can stand and testify one service and be down the very next one.
- The stony hearer will fool leadership and others at times because there is soil on the surface. Simply put, outwardly they are manifesting joy, but just under the surface is a layer of bedrock, which speaks of those things that have not been dealt with.
- Note that when the sun was up, it was scorched and because it had no root, it just withered away. The principle here is simple; you will know these that have no root when the SON RISES upon them for they will not be able to stand up under HEAT!
- Revelation: If you are rooted in Christ, you will be rooted in water and when the SON (word) RISES upon you, that water will be drawn through you and will cleanse and refresh you.
- You will find it hard to draw life from the stony hearer person for they are very shallow. Though outwardly they seem to be joyous, as you begin to come into their life through fellowship, you will hit bedrock (hardness) just under the surface.
- Because the rocky person has no root, you will find it is hard for them in the area of making commitments (relationships, assembling with the brethren, studying the word, praying and the list goes on and on). I think it interesting that a hen can contribute by laying an egg but a pig must commit to give you meat with those eggs!
Ezek 11:17-19 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Jer 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
Luke 8:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
- Note that this seed fell among the thorns. This lets us see that there were already seeds of weeds in the soil before the seed of God came.
- The word choked here is the Greek word “soom-pnee’-go”. It is derived from two other words, “soon” which is a preposition that denotes union and “pnee’-go” which means to strangle. We put the two together and learn that the thorny hearer is choked by that which they are in union with or have their mind fixed on, which in this case is cares, riches and pleasures of this life.
- The thorny hearer will be harder to reach for their mind will be preoccupied with the cares of this life. Have you ever called someone and the operator came on and said that all the circuits were busy and you were instructed to call back later? The same thing happens to the thorny hearer. Simply put, when the Lord makes an attempt to speak to them, there are too many demands and people calling them at the same time He is calling and the word doesn’t get through to them.
- The thorny hearer will listen to you when you share the word with them, but just as soon as they leave your presence or the service, all that you brought to them, all the exhortation, all the encouragement, all the life, all the joy, all the peace, all the love is suddenly choked out. They are on their way home now and can’t remember anything you told them.
- The thorny hearer will have no peace in their hearts due to their mind not being fixed on the Lord. Isaiah 26:3 says “thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
- The word care speaks in one sense of a distraction. Distraction is made up of two parts, “dis” which means to deprive or remove from something and traction, which is the act of drawing or pulling.
- Principle: When we lift Jesus up in our lives and keep our eyes on Him, He will draw us unto himself (John 12:32) and thus keep us in perfect peace. Knowing this, we can see that a distraction will deprive or keep you from enjoying the PEACE of God while drawing your attention to the cares of this life and thereby cause you to eventually become depressed (low in spirit).
- Worry over something in our lives is a sure sign that one is trying to accomplish or work out something in their own power. This is where one-steps into the role as God and wake up to the reality that apart from God, there are some things they just can’t do.
- The thorny hearer will be a lot easier to spot for you will hear in their conversations what has their attention. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Simply put, what fills their heart will come out of their mouth.
- The riches of this life played a part in choking the word out of the thorny hearer. This speaks in principle of those that are more concerned with an abundance of wealth and material possessions than they are with the Lord.
- The pleasures of this life or world choke the word out of the thorny person. Somebody said, what is wrong with pleasures. Well, there is nothing wrong with pleasures as long you can still hear the Lord clearly while enjoying the pleasure. For example, one can go fishing and that is a pleasure. And if the Lord is first in their life, they just might receive some wonderful revelations while on the water. I have taken my daughter to see a movie and it was a pleasure and while there received revelation from the Lord on what I was enjoying.
- A thorny hearer brings no fruit to perfection. This lets us know in principle that this type of person will not complete what they started. Just when it looks like they are going to hang in there and bring forth, they will walk away from you.
- Note that the seed fell among thorns. Thorns in the scripture speak metaphorically of a slothful (lazy) man in Pro 15:19, froward (disobedient, stubborn, obstinate which means difficult to manage or control) man in Pro 22:5, false prophets or false ministries in Mt 7:16.
- With the insight above we can say the following in principle. The seed falling into a lazy heart will be choked out because this individual will not make the effort to rid the thorns from their soil. The seed falling into a disobedient heart will be choked out due to refusal in ridding the thorns from their soil and thereby keep them from eating the good of the land (Isa 1:19). The seed falling into the heart of a false ministry will be choked out with false doctrines and teachings. False doctrine will choke the very word out of you that the Lord has brought to set you free. For example, have you ever heard a word that lifted you in the heavenlies and upon sharing with someone else, they tell you to stay away from it? That one was your thorn, you need to beware next time and get your soil out of that place.
Jer 4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground (plowed but left unseeded), and sow not among thorns.
Num 33:55-56 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.
- Those things you refuse to drive out will be your thorns in the days to come
- We can see in these verses that people were thorns; there are some relationships that you can avoid and some relationships that you should have avoided and now are reaping some thorns. If the latter is true for you, ask the Lord to change the heart of this one that has become a thorn in your flesh and then believe Him to do it.
Luke 8:8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; Ga 5:22-23) with patience.
- Matthew’s account of this parable reads, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Mt 13:23)
- Marks account of this parable reads, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred (Mk 4:20).
- Looking at the three writers, we can see that a good hearer receives, responds, produces and is steady and persistent (refuse to give up or let go).
- The fruit of hearing and listening to the Lord is the transformation of your character. And, the more we listen to Him, the more He will work on us causing us to become more like Jesus.
- To “bring forth fruit” is simply to help others to meet Him, receive Him and commit their life to Him.
- When we listen to the Lord, He will let us know the people that are ready to receive His seed and we can then be assured of a harvest in the hearts of those we sown. If you are careful, you will see that the Lord usually develops close friendships with the very ones that you will sow His seed in.
- If you listen to the Lord, you will be able to listen to people and hear their hearts and then when you speak into their lives, you will be on target. Simply put, you will speak the very word they need for that which they are facing or going through, causing a change and that change being the fruit of your listening to the Lord.
- The good hearer is honest (reputable, genuine, trustworthy) and has a good (reliable, dependable, obedient, stable) heart.
- The good hearer after hearing the word will keep it as we have learned. This speaks in principle of those that will be committed to the vision and to the body where they are placed and will bring forth fruit to perfection. Simply put, what they were sent to do, they will complete.
- Now that we have covered the four types of hearers, you should be able to identify with which one points to you. Now comes the time to make a choice. Are you willing to surrender all your soil (heart) to the Lord and allow Him to keep all things out of it that would hinder you from walking in victory and bringing forth fruit?
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PARABLE OF THE SOWER [Troy Nichols] 1