Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

The Parable of the Sower

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. . .
-Matthew 13:3

I’m sure many of you have read the parable of the sower. I guess I’ve either read it or heard it hundreds of times over my life. My entry in Voices of the Faithfulis based on it.

Here’s a question that used to bother me: which soil represents the true Christian? I’ve heard different answers in lessons and sermons.

Have you ever wondered about this? It seems pretty clear-cut with the seeds that “fall along the path”—they represent people that don’t understand or receive the gospel. But there are three more seeds/soils mentioned–what about them? What about the seed that withers under persecution? What about the one that is choked out by weeds? Was Jesus saying they weren’t truly saved?

I’ve seen all four responses to the gospel. I’ve shared my faith with those who just don’t seem to “get it.” I’ve also seen people who respond to the gospel but never bear fruit. Fortunately, I’ve also been in ministry long enough to see some respond and become fruitful followers of Jesus.

Further complicating the matter, I’ve seen the dynamics of this parable in my own life. There have been times, for example, when I’ve allowed the “cares of the world” to crowd out my love for Jesus.

Here’s what I’m thinking: maybe I was asking the wrong question!

I think this parable is more about fruitfulness and faithfulness than salvation.   I’m not sure Jesus ever intended for us to ponder which seed/soil represents saving faith.  Even if He did, I think there are other questions/truths which are much clearer.

Here are (in my estimation) better questions: which seed/soil bore fruit? Why didn’t they all bear fruit? How can I be sure to bear fruit? I believe these more logically match the point(s) of the parable.

These questions are at the heart of my preaching/teaching. When I preach on this text, I warn against a shallow commitment and a cluttered heart. I challenge listeners to bear “hundredfold” fruit for God’s glory.  I encourage them to sow generously, even when they don’t see immediate results.  This, it seems, more closely matches the essence of the parable.

What do you think?

8 Comments

  1. Never thought of that before. Very interesting take on it.

  2. How dear that the sower is so random and generous in pouring out his seed on all kinds of soil–what abundance!
    I love to garden. I know when I plant, I am fairly careful to put my seeds in holes in cultivated ground, that I then cover and water faithfully.

    I love the thought of God just walking along, tossing out bushels of seed from his giant hand, and watching to see what comes up.

  3. i have another interpretation to that Kuya…. I thing its not just about the soil or the hearts of other people… but it also talks about the sower… that means the Christian who is joining God in the advancement of His Kingdom, that we should preach no matter what kind of people/soil, preach in season and out season (2 Timothy 4:2) and its not our job to mind if it grows or not, our duty is to sow, God is the one who will grow it 1 Corinthians 3:6

  4. Broken and spilled out
    Just for love of you, Jesus
    My most precious treasure
    Lavished on thee
    Broken and spilled out
    And poured at your feet
    In sweet abandon
    Let me be spilled out
    And used up for Thee..
    -Steve Green

  5. If fruitfulness and faithfulness have nothing to do with salvation, then why was it that Jesus cursed the vine that did not give fruit?

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  7. I said this particular parable seems to be about which soil bore fruit, and we should probably not obsess over trying to figure out which soil represents the saved person–it isn’t really the point, in my opinion.

    I didn’t say “fruitfulness and faithfulness have nothing to do with salvation.”

    Having said that, most would interpret Jesus’ cursing of the fig true as a symbolic judgment on the Nation of Israel.

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