Skip to main content

The parable of the sower

The parable of the sower is one of the easiest parables to interpret, because unlike most of them, this one comes with an explanation:

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matt 13:18-23, NIV)

Even so I have recently heard it misused a number of times recently. Simply this is a parable challenging the listening crowds as to their reaction to the gospel (message of the kingdom). It articulates three reasons why people do not ultimately respond to that message as they should:
  1. misunderstanding
  2. shallow roots
  3. worry/ materialism
Finally it states the one reason why those who do respond to the gospel as they should, do so:

4. understanding

According to this parable the kingdom of God begins in our lives with understanding. Understanding comes at the beginning and the end of the parable. The 'yield', that is the good deeds and the transformation and the worship, are the result of understanding, rootedness, and carelessness, but priority is given to understanding.

Rootedness comes when we are committed to the Christian community. People seldom decide one day that they are not Christians any more, but they do easily drift away and slowly forget when they are not deeply connected to other Christians. But we can only make that commitment in as much as we understand the need for it and how to do it.

Carelessness, is an essential Christian virtue, because we only have one life, and can only serve one master, God's kingdom requires all of us, not part while the other part keeps an eye on the world's ideas of fulfillment. Again this is only possible through a right understanding of who God is and what he asks of us and promises to us.

So whatever expression of the kingdom of God you participate in, whether a traditional church, or a mega church, or a trendy urban missional community, or anything in between, your priority should be understanding. because although there are so many important and vital elements in the Christian life, they all begin with understanding.


  1. When I was a student, I never thought that I would fall into the trap of worry and materialism; but I have.

    It's not something that I'm proud of, and I'm sure that God could do more with me if I was more care-less. Since becoming a parent, I guess that I feel the weight of responsibility to provide, etc...

    What sermons misusing the parable of the sower have you heard recently? Just curious.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a biblical preacher

Unusually for me I was watching the tele early on Sunday morning and I caught an episode of Dr Charles Stanley preaching on his television program. Now I know this guy has come under some criticism for his personal life, and that is not unimportant, but it is also not something i can comment on, not knowing the facts. His preaching is however something I can comment on, at least the one sermon I did watch.

He started off by reading 2 Timothy 1:3-7. Which is a passage from the Bible, so far so good. He then spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about his mum and what a great example of a Christian mother she was. Now nothing he said or suggested was wrong, but none of it actually came from scripture, least of all the scripture he read from at the beginning. It was a lovely talk on how Stanley's mother raised him as a Christian despite considerable difficulties and it contained many useful nuggets of advice on raising Christian kids. All very nice, it might have made a nice…

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.