Wherever Jesus went he was in the habit of trying to help people. From the time he performed his first miracle in Cana of Galilee people flocked to him because they received so much from him. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, opened the ears of the deaf, made the lame walk and much else besides. One of the ways he communicated to these very different people was by the powerful means of parables because parables have the ability to present complex truths in clear and simple tones without ambiguity to the diligent. Oh how we love parables and storytelling for the vivid pictures they paint on the canvas of our minds.
In our contemplation, we are looking at Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus is at the seaside and he is speaking to the multitude in parables and the one that is the subject of our meditation today is called "The Parable of The Sower". Before we delve into the substance of this matter, which is about sowing seeds in different types of soil, I should point out a few things to aid us in our understanding, viz.:
The sower is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
The seed is The Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The soil is the human heart.
Salvation comes to us via the preaching of the Gospel as Paul clearly states, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16a) and I hope that as we go through this parable our hearts and minds will be touched and enlightened.
FIRST WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THE AIM OF THE SOWER
He expected to raise a crop
The sower goes into his field with the intentions of raising a crop, "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow" (Matthew 13:3)
The implication here is that the farmer was not haphazard for he would have carefully selected where he was going to sow the seeds.
Just like now God has chosen you, and not by accident, to read this meditation and all that implies going forward.
The sower carefully sows the seeds, "And when he sowed" (Matthew 13:4a) and the sowing was successful; the sower had accomplished his primary task.
In like manner Christian workers strive mightily to sow the seeds of the gospel, sometimes at great cost, ever looking to see a crop.
He expected a rich harvest
The sower did what he was suppose to do and now he was looking forward to the seeds germinating and with latter rain and fertile soil he expected a great harvest. (Latter rain falls in spring, former rain falls in autumn)
In like manner God sent forth his son to die for us and his Holy Spirit to plant the seed of life in our hearts that we might produce a bountiful spiritual harvest.
To those who are saved, then never forget that God is expecting much fruit from us, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2)
To the unconverted just remember that you too are given the opportunity to respond to God's grace and mercy for the Gospel goes out to one and all.
He expected to reap a profit
No sower expects a loss for it is reasonable given favorable circumstances for him to expect to reap a good profit from the crop he is sowing.
God too expects to reap a profit on his investment for the same way a bountiful harvest brings a profit to the sower so the salvation of souls brings honor and glory to God's name.
This final aim of the sower makes all the planting and watering and hard work worthwhile as so many who farm can bear witness.
NEXT LET US CONSIDER THE ABILITY OF THE SEED
It has the potential to be productive
The one seed planted is able not just to grow and produce fruit but produce seed as well. Plant a squash or cucumber seed and what do you get? Cucumbers and squashes to eat and seeds as well.
When the seed of God's word is planted in the heart it has the potential to germinate and be productive
When the seed is sown God looks with great expectation for production, "And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon" (Mark 11:13)
The consequences for non-production can be drastic, "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19)
It has the potency to start small and produce much
It has the inherent capacity to produce itself over and over, "some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold" (Matthew 13:8b)
For good reason Jesus lauded the mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31-32)
One little seed has the potential to multiply itself 10 times, 20 times, 50 times or more and farmers see this all the time.
From tiny beginnings many large churches have grown as we have all witnessed.
It has the power to transform the ground
The seed possess the power to change the ground in which it is planted as the bare scorched earth is transformed into a bountiful harvest.
The seed of God's word can do the same in the hearts of those who accept Jesus by faith for salvation can transform one's life to the glory of God.
The grace of God that brings salvation through the Holy Spirit can:
Sanctify you so that you become more like Jesus.
Fill you so that you behave more like Jesus.
Motivate and give you compassion for the lost so that you are burdened like Jesus.
FINALLY LET US OBSERVE THE APPRAISAL OF THE SOILS
The concern of the sower
The sower wanted seeds to fall on all the land, there was to be no discrimination or partiality.
In similar vein Jesus wants the gospel preached to all mankind, "And he said unto them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
All Muslims and Jews need to hear this message as well as Hindus and the others.
The sower knew the soil was not necessarily bad but would be affected by prevailing conditions.
The hearts of all men are capable of receiving and responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ones you least expect are at times the very ones who respond.
The condition of the soil
The sower encountered Hard Soil, "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side (Matthew 13:4a). The "way side" was the narrow footpaths that ran through and beside the farmers fields and were used as roads, hence their surface was hard and the seed could not penetrate so the birds ate them. This speaks to people who refuse to receive the message not because they cannot but because they would not and are become hard-hearted.
He also encountered Stony Soil, "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth." (Matthew 13:5). The "stony places" were where a thin layer of earth covered a ledge of rock which was common in Palestine. This speaks to people who make an emotional response to the Gospel, there is no depth and when the trials and tribulations come they abandon their faith and decide it's not worth it.
He also encountered Thorny Soil, "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them." (Matthew 13:7). The "thorn-infested soil" looks good to the eyes but underneath the surface are living roots of thorns and weeds. This speaks to people who superficially accept the Gospel and appear promising but want the benefits of the Gospel while clinging to the world of sin and eventually the world wins out.
The sower in addition fortunately encountered Good Soil, "But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit..." (Matthew 13:8). The "good soil" was fertile ground, well prepared and ready to receive the seed when it came. The seed germinated, the plant grew and brought forth a bountiful harvest most pleasing to the sower. This represents a true believer, one whose heart has been touched by the grace of God, who repents of his sins and commits his life to God and bears fruit to the glory of Almighty God.
The consequences for the seed
The only difference between all of these was the fruit. They all received the same treatment from the sower, the same care, the same consideration but only one produced fruit and that is what mattered in the end.
God extends his mercies to all, none can complain.
God sends his rain on the just as well as the unjust.
God will judge all on the same basis.
In this contemplation we saw how the sower chose to plant seeds in the soil and expected to reap a bountiful harvest. Almighty God in like manner plants his Holy Word so that you might benefit there from and be productive to his honor and glory. Many are the obstacles to prevent growth and production but the duty is on us. Are we bearing fruit for God? Have we become hardened to the things of God? Are we, like so many, losing our faith? Are we truly saved? Is God profiting from the seeds sown in our hearts? Only you can answer these questions.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013