THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER MATTHEW 13:1-23– A TRIPLE MESSAGE

By PKD Lee


The parable of the Sower has one advantage – Jesus explained the parable and so we know what it meant. Or do we? Jesus did not explain two of the symbols of the parable – what are the fruits meant to be and what does the field represent? Some would say that these symbols have no relevance, hence Jesus did not give a meaning to these symbols. Without ascribing meaning to these two symbols you get the importance of responding to the word of God with faith in spite of persecution or difficulties. But what is the impact the word should have in my life is not known, nor if this applies to anyone or members of the church.

The fruit which we are meant to produce can be seen as something specific or it could refer to the kind of life we lead. Linking it with Galatians 5:22-23 we get the fruit as the transformation of our life producing the spiritual traits listed there. This transformation of our nature makes us lights shining in the darkness, bringing the next kind of fruit which is a harvest of people for the kingdom.

If we see ministry not just as preaching the word but as the life we lead, then fruit becomes the way we serve mankind through our profession and life. Fruit then becomes being effective in what we do, again because of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. It means having a full life. Like Jesus we are a blessing wherever we go.

The meaning of the symbol for the field can be either the world of mankind, or the church or the heart of the individual. In the next parable (of Wheat and Tares) in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that the field is the world. Since three of the soils responded to the word, albeit for a time only, it can also be seen as the church. In verse 15 Jesus says that hearts of the people have become dull and so they do not understand the world, and so some see it as the individuals heart. Depending on how you understand the symbol of the field you get different messages from the parable.

THE SEED ON THE WAYSIDE

In verse 19 Jesus says that the person receiving the word on the wayside did not understand it, and therefore the birds came and took it away. If we understand the word preached, no one can take it away from us. But why do we not understand the word we hear?

In Romans 12:2 Paul says that unless our minds are transformed and NOT conformed to the world, we cannot understand what God is saying. This means that is imperative that we renounce the worldly world views of success, measures of success, purpose in life, value of money etc, and obtain a Biblical worldview by studying the Bible and living by it. Once we do, we will understand what God expects from us and our lives would be transformed.

! Corinthians 2:14 says that the natural man cannot understand the things of God since they are spiritually discerned. That means that I need the help of the Spirit of God to be able to understand the message. Hence it is imperative that we invite Jesus into our life, so that we can understand the message with the help of the Spirit Jesus sends to us.

Three interpretations

Field = World. These are the people who hear the gospel but cannot understand it and so reject it completely.

Field = Church. These are people who are in the church, but are totally lost as they cannot understand anything the Bible says, as their worldview is still of the world. Their lives are ruled by worldly logic and values.

Field = Individual heart. These are areas in your life which is not in line with God since you are unable to understand the biblical teaching in that area of your life. These are your blind spots.

THE SEED ON STONY GROUND

These are those who understand the word and respond to it, but then find that there is a cost to making a decision for Jesus. Even though from God’s side salvation is given to you free, as the Bible promises, from the world’s side it is not and the world imposes a cost on us. When they become aware of the cost imposed by the world they turn and leave Jesus.

This cost, is because when we are with Jesus we do not involve ourselves with the corruptions in the world. The stress at work may increase as you refuse to use methods that are not honourable. Since all your financial transactions are above board and open to scrutiny, many people would not do business with you in a corrupt society.

Because of these costs they turn away from following Jesus as John says in John 6:60-66, and do not bear any fruit in their lives.

Three interpretations

Field = world. These are they who respond to the gospel but fall away when they see the emotional and financial costs involved.

Field = church. These are those in the church who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour but are unable to live the victorious Christian life and bear fruit as they do not want to face the suffering involved. They do not bear fruit.

Field = Individual heart. These are individuals who do not have victory in some areas of their life because they do not want to make sacrifices there. Often these are in the area of our career or family, or areas which are dear to us.

THE SEED AMONG THE THORNS

These are people who are willing to suffer for Jesus, but still have strong desires for things of this world, like money, status, career success etc. Their life is based on their love for the world. When they hear the word asking them to turn from the world to Jesus they baulk. Though they did make commitments to Jesus, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches slowly take them away from Jesus.

Three interpretations

Field = world These are they who love the world and reject a salvation that involves a rejection of the world as something to be desired.

Field = Church. These are they who have accepted Jesus for salvation but the world rules their life. For them, the world is the purpose of life, and Jesus is just a way of salvation a bus ticket to heaven. These are the ones who run after the prosperity and success gospel and spiritual life is secondary. Hence they do not bear fruit in their lives.

Field = Individual heart. These are areas of your life where Jesus still has no say and you are controlled by the world and your need for the world. Hence you do not bear fruit.

THE GOOD SOIL

These are they whose mind is right and they bear fruit for the kingdom. They have renounced the world and see it only as a means of serving God in His kingdom, and not something to be pursued in its own right.

Three interpretations

Field = world. These are the Christians who bear fruit in plenty.

Field = church. These are those in the church who seem to do all the ministry and bear all the fruit in the church

Field – Individual heart. These are the areas of your life where you are the most effective because of surrender to Jesus there.

CHALLENGE

• Develop a Christian worldview – Worldview Study Bible on Kindle

• Be willing to suffer for your faith – do not ask for trouble

• Turn away from the world and its attractions

• Let the Spirit work through you

• Remember John 15:5-6 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned”

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