The parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23


I.    Christ speaks the a vast multitude. 

A.     The fact that Christ speaks to a vast multitude is also recorded in Mark 4:1 and Luke 8:4. 

1.       Jesus Christ was a popular preacher of his day. 

a.       Some came to see if he would perform any miracle. 

b.       Others came to see if he would feed them. 

c.       Some came because it was the popular thing to do. 

2.       Adrian Rogers preached the other day concerning the absolute sovereignty of God, yet after his death, the church he pastored revealed they never heard anything he said, perhaps because the doctrines he declared was disguised with beautiful rhetoric. 

B.     Christ knew there would be many who would hear, yet not believe anything he had to say. 

1.       This is a terrible statement to make, but it is true. 

2.       There could very well be many in this congregation who will not hear what I am saying to you. 

3.       Maybe you have come for the above reasons. 


II.    The sower is Jesus Christ, or the representatives of Jesus Christ. 

A.     The preparation of the ground is not our responsibility.

1.       I Corinthians 3:6 - Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase. 

2.       Many times we try to prepare people to receive the gospel message, when we ought to let God do that, while we plant the gospel seed. 

B.     Went forth.

1.       A necessary action.

2.       Shows preparation - forethought.

3.       Had already decided what he was going to sow: the gospel seed.

4.       Was ready when he got to the field - the field is the world.

C.     To Sow:

1.       Not to reap!

a.       Ecclesiastes 3:2 - There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

b.       Many people that proclaim the gospel make the mistake of trying to reap when they sow, but they forget the seed needs time to develop.

c.       It is very wrong to pray “the sinners prayer” with a person, convincing that person that praying that prayer will save them.

d.       It is never wrong to encourage the lost person to pray, but praying won’t save a person – Jesus saves!

2.       With a purpose, had a result in mind.

a.       God will take care of the result, we take care of the sowing.

b.       If we don’t sow, we won’t reap.

c.       We will reap whatever we sow – the seed doesn’t change from what it was to whatever we want it to be.

D.     Things about sowing.

1.       Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 - Don't look up at clouds.  Don't let men bother you.

2.       Hebrews 12:2 - Keep rows straight by looking ahead.  Jesus looked past the cross to eternal glory.

3.       Philippians 3:13,14 - Put the seed on the ground ahead of you and on either side of you, never behind you.  Forget the good and bad of yesterday and do today what you can for God.  Use today's opportunities.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

4.       Matthew 13:4-8 - Cover the ground with seed (sow in all places and in all times).

a.       Don't worry about wasting God's seed.

b.       He has plenty.

c.       This parable actually tells us that God knows some of the seed will be "wasted".

d.       God knows that.

e.       This is why He says His Word will not return void, but will accomplish that which He has determined.

f.        A time when you can't see results.

1.)    Ecclesiastes 7:8 - the end of a thing is better than the beginning.

2.)    Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see results, God will take care of that in time.

3.)    It is our responsibility to be faithful in sowing the seed.

g.       A time when you feel something more is needed.

1.)    Luke 17:5-10 – …Lord, increase our faith. 

2.)    Must be consistent.

h.       A time of great cost.

1.)    Farmers spend a lot of money in the spring when the ground is prepared and the seed is planted or sown.

2.)    Farmers make their money during harvest, not during planting.

3.)    Farmers spend their days sowing the seed, not in other things, so we as believers should spend our days in sowing the seed, not in laying up treasure on this earth, or being lazy.

4.)    II Corinthians 9:6 - Reap as you have sowed, scantily or bountifully.

5.)    Galatians 6:7-9 - We shall reap as we have sowed (flesh or spirit). 


III.    Matthew 13:18-23 – There are four different kinds of hearers. 

A.     Verse 19 – Sponge - suck up both good and bad, but it all runs out immediately; or a rock on dry ground – nothing penetrates. 

1.       These are lost.

2.       They receive seed by the wayside.

a.       They received seed as ground by the wayside receives seed.

b.       The seed lays on top of the ground where the birds of the air come and eat it.

3.       The seed is sown in the heart.

a.       When the gospel message is given to any person, the seed goes into the heart.

b.       If the heart is hard, like the ground by the wayside, the seed will not embed itself in the heart, and cannot produce roots.

c.       The seed does not germinate.

4.       The seed sown in the stony heart does not return void.

a.       The seed is a witness against Satan who eats it, keeping it from the lost person.

b.       The seed is a witness against the lost person, because he has not softened his heart to receive the word of God.

5.       Did Pharaoh harden his heart, or did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?

a.       The first five times this is mentioned, it is said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. 

1.)    Exodus 4:21 – And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 

2)      Exodus 7:3 – And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 

3)      Exodus 7:13 – And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. 

4)      Exodus 7:14 – And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. 

5)      Exodus 7:22 – And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. 

b.       Exodus 8:15 then mentions that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.  But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. 

B.     Verse 20-21 – Rocks on the seashore - Enjoys the water falling against it, but has nothing to cause the water to remain on the rock. 

1.       These are lost.

2.       Stony places – There is no soil, therefore no place for the germinating plant to receive nourishment.

a.       There is nothing wrong with the seed, there is something wrong with the place where the seed is sown.

b.       There must be a place for the root in the heart, but this ground has no root in itself.

3.       They have nothing on the inside, everything is on the outside.

a.       As the seed germinates, but soon dies because there is no nourishment to the roots, so this unbeliever seems to accept the gospel, but soon falls away because the gospel actually means nothing.

b.       Tribulation and persecution refers to times of hardship when an attachment to Christ gives strength to endure and prosper.

1.)    Tribulation and persecution is not necessarily speaking about some world wide trouble.

2)   It could be speaking about personal trouble or persecution, or when a person must stand alone.

c.       Psalms 1:3 speaks of the righteous person who is like a tree planted by the rivers of water.

1.)    Hidden roots go to the rivers of water, thus providing life to the plant.

2)      If the roots are exposed they will soon wither and die, and the plant will also die.

C.     Verse 22 – Strainer, colander or coffee filter - Takes everything in, but allows the good to flow on through, retaining only the evil.

1.       These are saved, but bear no fruit to perfection or completion.

a.       Mark 4:19 – And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 

b.       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. 

2.       The root is able to find nourishment in the soft soil of the heart and brings that nourishment to the plant and the plant grows and matures.

a.       It is evident that the plant matures enough to begin growing fruit.

b.       It is at that point that the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and the fruit does not ripen.

3.       It is not tribulation and persecution that halt progress.

a.       The plant has survived tribulation and persecution, but it does not survive the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.

b.       Many a saved soul knows they are saved, that God is in them, but they are not faithful because of the cares of this life.

c.       Matthew 6:19 – Many a saved soul seeks the temporary treasures of this life instead of laying up treasure in heaven.

4.       These people are trying to have the best of both worlds.

a.       They try to have “one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth”.

b.       There is a lot of psychology that is passed off as Bible preaching today that causes many believers to lose their fruit.

c.       Matthew 6:24 states, No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

D.     Verse 23 – Sieve, or combine - Takes everything in, but blows off the chaff, allowing only the good grain to remain.

1.       These are saved.

a.       The seed germinates and the root finds nourishment so the plant can grow and mature.

b.       The root is not exposed to the elements, therefore the root remains strong.

c.       The root is able to find soft soil, which brings nourishment to the plant.

2.       This seed goes through the same processes the other seeds go through.

a.       The seed is sown and received.

b.       The seed germinates in every case except the first situation where it is eaten by the fowls of the air.

c.       The root seeks nourishment, and finds it, except in the first and second situation.

d.       The plant grows and begins to produce fruit.

1.)    The “eye of the plant” is not on the fruit, but on doing what it is naturally fitted to do, give glory to God.

2)      In the second situation, the plant is able to withstand tribulation and persecution because the root continually brings nourishment to the plant.

3)      In the third situation, the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches is withstood because the plant receives proper nourishment and overcomes these worldly desires.

3.       These understand the word.

a.       This is not said about any of the other recipients of seed.

b.       Acts 8:30 – Philip asked the Ethiopian Eunuch, …Understandest thou what thou readest? 

c.       Luke 24:45 – Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. 

1.)    True disciples will understand the scriptures.

2)      Luke 24:31 – There is a difference between having the eyes opened to know Jesus and having the understanding opened to understand the scriptures.

3)      The people in Matthew 13:22 see who Jesus is, but they do not have understanding of the scripture.

4)      If they had understanding of the scripture, they would understand they cannot serve God and mammon.

4.       They bring forth fruit of various degrees.

a.       Understanding the scriptures has a direct bearing on bearing fruit to completion.

b.       John 12:24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 

c.       When a person has true understanding of the scriptures, they will die to self, therefore bring forth much fruit.

5.       What is fruit?

a.       Fruit is that which is produced for food and the seed of the next generation.

b.       Spiritual fruit.

1.)    It is often taught that fruit is winning souls to the Lord, and that is a part of fruit bearing, but that is not all.

2)      Galatians 5:22,23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

3)      Ephesians 5:9 – For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; 

4)      James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. 

6.       There is an equality in those that produce fruit.

a.       Matthew 25:15 – In the parable of the talents, God gives to every person varying talents according to their individual ability.

b.       Luke 19:13 – In the parable of the pounds, God gives to every person the same number of pounds.

1.)    In both cases, rewards are given according to the results of fruit bearing.

2.)    In both cases, the reward is the same.

a.)    Compare Matthew 25:21 and 25:23 – His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 

b.)    Compare Luke 19:17 and 19:19 – And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten (or five) cities.