The Seed, the Sower, and the Soil

Peninsula Community Church
The seed, the sower, and the soil.
June 4, 2017

Matthew 13:1-9 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.”

As we look at this passage, we find that Jesus uses a powerful communication tool to define a very important issue for us. Jesus was a master at using word pictures and that is what He does here. The people listening to His message that day were very familiar with the concept of farming and sowing seed. For that reason Jesus used the familiar word picture of the farmer sowing seed to illustrate a powerful point about the Word of God and man’s heart.

This particular parable is broken into two parts. The first part is found in Matthew 13:1-9 and the second is found in Matthew 13:18-24. In the first section, Jesus shares the parable and then in the second He explains what the parable means. In this parable we find three key components. There is the seed, the sower, and the soil. The sower is Jesus Himself. The seed is the word of God. Then we have the soil which represents four conditions of the heart. Upon review, we find that all of these conditions can be evident in our heart in various ways.

The first heart condition noted is the hardened heart as represented by the hard ground. Jesus stated 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 (Matthew 13:19). Notice that the seed never had a chance to take root because the evil one snatched it away. The emphasis by Jesus in this passage is on the understanding of the word of God. The enemy loves to confuse us and create doubt so that our understanding of God’s word is diminished. The result is that the seed of the Gospel does not take root.

The second kind of heart condition is seen in the rocky soil. This seed takes root but it does not last because the sun bears down on the new growth and it is destroyed before it has time to take root. Jesus stated 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 (Matthew 13:20-21).

In our hearts, we can receive God’s word but tribulation and persecution can cause us to lose sight of the purpose of the Gospel. Our spiritual growth can be stunted when we focus more on the problems of life than the God who is able to keep us through every situation. The word is received with joy but the problem is not the receptivity to the word. The problem comes after the word is received. There is an excitement that comes from having the word planted in us but as soon as some one says something or we come against a problem we begin to doubt and we lose the joy we once had. Thus we are negatively impacted by persecution and tribulation which steals the seed from our heart.

The third condition of the heart is represented by the soil that is infested with thorns. There is growth but it is quickly smothered by the vines. In this case, the cares of the world smother the seed that is planted in our heart. This heart is negatively effected by the cares of life and there is little or no fruit produced. Jesus had this to say about the thorns. 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 (Matthew 13:22).

The thorn infested heart is looking for external things to satisfy the longings of the heart. Too often this heart is looking for riches to provide the assurance they need, but as we know riches can be deceitful. John Piper says the one thing that brings us the greatest joy is our satisfaction in Christ. When we are satisfied in Him, we will be less effected by the cares of the world.

At our home in New York we had a beautiful vine in our back yard. It was called Wisteria. It was a deceptive plant in that the flowers in the spring were so beautiful. They looked like clusters of grapes. However, the vine overtook other vegetation and killed it off. We had to take down a tree in our back yard that had been overrun by the vine. So it is with the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. They can overcome us and destroy the Word in our heart.

The fourth kind of Heart is the one that is open to God’s word and His purpose in our life. An open heart is a soft heart. The Bible teaches us that God’s plan all along was to give us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). A good heart is one that has been cultivated by the Holy Spirit. 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.” (Matthew 13:23). A good heart is a fruitful heart. It is one that bears much fruit.

While we have looked at four kinds of hearts we must also consider the change necessary to create a heart that is fertile ground for the Word. The first step is to prepare the soil of our heart by breaking up the fallow or hardened ground. Hosea said it best. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12).

We must allow the Holy Spirit to operate on us. In the Old Testament, scripture reminds us that God will take our stoney or hardened heart and He will give us a heart of flesh. This is something that requires an outside influence. We need the influence of the Holy Spirit in us to soften our hearts to receive the word of God.

Secondly, we must remove the issues that cause the seed of God’s word not to take root in our heart. We must keep our focus on Jesus who will guide us and keep us focused on what He desires. We must renew our confidence in who He is and what He can accomplish when we allow Him to work.

Finally, we must welcome the word of God into our heart. We must have a desire for the Word of God. We must want God’s activity to be evident in us. We must hunger and thirst after righteousness. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus states that blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. This is not a passive reaction but one that requires us to take action to receive God’s word and then allow His word to impact our hearts positively.

So how is your heart? Let us pray!

For an audio of this message go to

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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