The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
The Purpose of the Parables
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The Parable of the Sower Explained
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
The Parable of the Weeds
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Prophecy and Parables
All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
The Parable of the Net
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
New and Old Treasures
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Jesus taught in parables and this chapter is chock full of several tremendous truths. Truths that to the hearers either they ‘got’ or they didn’t. These usually took something that was familiar to the listeners and added a deep truth that was unfamiliar. Fortunately for us, we have had many of these explained. That said, there is always new truths to grasp. There is always something to discover relevant to our current situation or place.
On many levels, the hearer of these words would be faced with a choice: To dig deeper and discover a truth or simply move on as it was just a nice story. When we are honestly seeking, these parables cause us to search for deeper meaning and in that the truth will be made more clear.
Jesus was purposeful in each story told. He chose to speak in parables so that the hearts would be exposed. For people who would continue to reject His words, it would simply harden their hearts. Interesting thought, no?
“The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay; and so the very same gospel message which breaks down honest hearts and leads to repentance, hardens the hearts of the dishonest and confirms them in their path of disobedience.”David Guzik
When we are spiritually sensitive to the words of Jesus, He brings about a deeper understanding and longing even for more. This is a beautiful thing! For if we are searching for deeper truths, this is led by the Holy Spirit who will reveal even more. As Jesus knows us through and through, He knows our heart. When our hearts are open to Him, there is something absolutely stunning to be discovered.
As you read these familiar parables – ask God to open your eyes, tenderize your heart for one of His amazing truths coming through these. There is something there that for certain can bolster our commitment, give insight to dealings we have with others, and strengthen us to move forward in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There are so many great parables it is hard to just reflect on one aspect of this chapter! You could do an in-depth study of each story. I want to focus on the parable of the sower because it is so important and relevant for our time.
Let’s first identify the characters in the parable.
We have a farmer, or sower. And he is scattering seed. Who is the farmer? The farmer first and foremost, was Jesus Christ. He is THE farmer. Who else scattered the Word? The apostles, the early church, and today, we do. We are the farmer in this parable and the story really doesn’t say much about us. In fact, the parable is not about the sower.
Let’s go back to the seed. What does it represent? Jesus calls it the Word of the Kingdom. To us, it would be the Good News of the Gospel. So we have a believer, (farmer) scattering the Gospel (the seed) and he’s throwing it on the soil. So what does the soil represent?
Here is where we dive into the primary focus of Jesus’ parable. He spends all of his interpretation outlining the different soils. Jesus tells us there are four scenarios for how the Word of God hits people, and three out of four don’t turn out very well.
The first is the seed that gets scattered along the path. Satan comes quickly and snatches that seed right up before it has a chance to do anything. In this scenario, the seed does not even get a chance to take root.
The second type of soil we see here is the rocky soil. In ancient Israel, there were large chunks of limestone further down in the soil. As you can imagine, the roots from the seeds hit the rocks, and instead of balanced growth, the roots are unable to spread. All the energy shoots up to the top of the plant. Because there is no foundation, the plant cannot get a sufficient amount of water and it is eventually scorched by the sun.
The Thorn Bushes
The third type of soil is the weedy soil. The plant grows just fine, but there are weeds that form and grow alongside the plant. They work both below the ground to steal nutrients and water from the plant, as well as above the ground to shade the plant from getting proper sunlight. Eventually, that plant is choked out by the fast-growing weeds, and it dies. All of these types of bad soil are practical illustrations of people’s hearts. We can probably identify someone in our life who would accurately depict each of these types of soil.
The Good Soil
The last type of soil we read about is good soil. The plant flourishes. With a solid root structure and foundation, and it blossoms and produces fruit. But let’s look more closely. It’s produces at rates of 30, 60, and 100 fold. That would have been an abnormally large harvest of fruit for such a time.
What’s the problem?
The sower has a job to do. If my 4-year-old daughter comes out with me and scatters seed, she might throw it all over the place – in her hair, in my shoes, etc. But what happens when it hits good soil? It’s will always produce an abundance of fruit. For this reason, the growth is not dependent on the skill of the sower! The parable does not indicate that the sower is selective with how the seeds are spread. In other words, the point of the parable is not to withhold seed from the path, or the rocks, or the thorn bushes. The sower scatters seed.
We can also deduce that the seed is always good. You can’t blame the seed. It’s the best there is, with a guaranteed return. Think about this parable for a minute. If the sower is good, and the seed is good, what’s the problem?
It always comes back to the heart. In the previous chapter of Matthew 12, verse 33, Jesus says, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” The tree, and eventually, the fruit, cannot be produced without the right soil.
For us as believers, we must understand our role. We are sowers and God has given us His seed. Our job is not to manipulate the soil. We should be joyful that we don’t control the soil and that the production of fruit is not dependent upon our skill, but rather, our obedience. How obedient are you to your calling as a sower? How often are you scattering seed? We must leave the soils and the fruit up to Him, and focus on the role and task He has given us as sowers in His Kingdom.