Matthew 13:1-9 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Parable of the Sower
1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.
2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.
6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
A beggar approached me as I came up from the subway, on Broad Street in Philadelphia, during the War.
--"Can you help me?" he asked, putting out his hand.
--An enlisted sailor could only spare two dollars.
--But I said to him, "I've got something more valuable than money - let me tell you about Jesus!"
--He was willing. Listened intently. Was saved.
--He received Jesus as thirsty soils receive a rain!
I said, "You need to get a job; get on your feet."
--He replied, "This is pretty much all I've got."
--His clothes old and thin, shoes worn. No coat.
--"If you will meet me back here next Friday, I will have some warm, new clothes for you." He agreed.
I called my Mother in Texas, send me my new suit and other clothes, there is a man who needs them, here.
--"Son, you just bought that nice new suit."
--"Mom, I must be in uniform until the war is over - the man needs a warm suit, shoes, socks, and all."
--Added, "Remember you taught us, what we sow we'll reap, the man accepted Jesus, and needs help."
--Mother sent the things. I took them to the place.
--And praise God, the man was there! Put them on.
--Came out a new man - inside and out, with hope.
--I gave him Christian literature, hints for a job.
--We had prayer, he left happy. I saw him no more.
I was sowing the Gospel seed of Jesus in the soil of a soul, "confident .. that He who has begun a good work (in this man) will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). Seed was on good soil.
Here in Matthew 13 Jesus gives us seven parables.
--A parable is a human story with heavenly meaning.
--This first parable is a key to understand others.
--Jesus tells of a man "a sower went out to sow."
--Then, sowing was done scattering seed, by hand.
--The "seed" is the Gospel of Jesus, and Scripture.
--The "sower" is the Spirit of God, and believers.
--It is the "soils" that are key, and the variables!
Matthew 13:2 tells of a crowd so large - to hear Jesus - that He got in a boat, "the whole multitude is standing on the shore," listening to Him.
--Jesus gives these parables. Explains two (v 18f).
So, what is Jesus teaching us, in this first parable?
--There are all kinds of soils - and souls - just as there are all kinds of people.
--My friend, we sow as we go. Witnessing. Living.
--Serving. Praying. Giving. Kindness, compassion.
--So let's listen to the Lord, looking at some soils.
I. THE SOILS OF THE WAYSIDE TYPE. LOTS OF THESE.
--"A sower went forth to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them" (Matt. 13:3,4). Lots of such "birds."
--On this kind of soil the Gospel seed suffers.
--"The wayside" means walkways, where soil is packed so hard by walkers, the seed is unreceptive.
--It cannot get into the soil, and take root.
This typifies those so busy, Jesus is neglected.
--Their heart has not been cultivated or prepared.
--The "seed" finds difficulty to get in the "soil."
--Look, one small letter changes soil to soul.
--"Birds came and devoured" the seed. No fruit.
This was true of Jesus, the greatest "Sower" of all.
--He is God! Savior! Messiah! "No one spoke as Jesus," yet so many "received Him not" as Savior.
Suppose Jesus was Pastor of this church - in a way, Jesus is - but just suppose, actually; would it make any difference today? How consecrated to God are we?
We need "sowers" like Jesus, reaching the "soils" of all those around us; and doing it winsomely, wisely.
Jesus said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matt. 9:38).
--Let's pray for this, and be ready to do it, also!
--Be one of "the laborers." A "sower" of the "seed".
--Beginning with our own children. Neighborhoods. Be not discouraged by the "waysiders." Love them.
II. THERE ARE THE SOILS OF STONY PLACES.
--Jesus tells, "Some (seeds) fell on stony places .. they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth" (Matt. 13:5). Soon withered away.
--There are stony soils and souls, and areas.
--Hard to have a harvest if "on stony places."
There are some people with stony hearts-in the news.
--Maybe in us. Hard-hearted. Always want our way.
--Hard to live with. God save them. Bless them.
--May His Spirit touch, and change them, like Jesus.
--My heart goes out, to help, all in hard times.
--May the Lord smile on them with big blessings.
Remember the gravel roads? Some of us can.
--Stones could fly up, crack windshields and paint.
--Nowadays, most roads are all paved, and safer.
--Gravel mostly gone on roads. Still on our hearts.
If only we could eliminate stony places in life.
--Only Jesus can do that best! He did it for Paul!
--Before Paul met Jesus he had a hard, stony heart.
--Jesus changed and softened him, to love everyone!
The ways of the world can put "stony places" in each heart and each path. We need the Lord Jesus, friend.
--Good seed sown by the "wayside" taken by "birds."
--These "birds" represent evils. On "stony places"?
--Can we not say it is "the world, flesh, and devil"?
--Lord, help us all to beware of "stony places."
III. ANOTHER TYPE OF SOIL - THAT OF THORNY GROUND.
--Some seed "fell among thorns, the thorns sprang up and choked them" (v 7). So hindered the harvest.
--Good seed - the Gospel. "Sprang up," and stifled.
--It fell "among thorns." Like the cares of life.
--And life's pleasures and problems can stifle God.
Growing up we had lots of "thorny ground," stickers.
--Barefoot in summer, I've pulled thorns from feet.
--There are other kinds of "thorns" around, today.
--"Thorny places," thorny pleasures, and yes people.
--And we can have "thorny" ways that displease folk.
--A self-exam is needed. Perhaps repentance too.
Maybe you now are going through some "thorn" times.
--Thorny issues, of physical health, well-being.
--Or in your family. Finances. Or your faith.
--Maybe on your job - or lack of one. A sorrow, loss.
--Remember, Jesus had thorns - "a crown of thorns."
--He didn't have to bear it - but did, to save us.
--We can expect a few thorny times .. and people.
--I have found that thorns come before the roses!
St. Paul had a "thorn in the flesh." Prayed for it.
--God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9).
--Let the Lord be in all our thorny times, friend.
IV. THANK GOD FOR THE SOIL OF "GOOD GROUND"!
--These are receptive of the Word of God, and Jesus!
--Some seed "fell on good ground and yielded a crop".
--And what a crop, what a difference Jesus makes!
--Bring in the sheaves of souls, "Some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty." Witnessing, winning!
--In a winsome, wise, and wonderful way with cheer!
--I want to be such a one. Bear fruit for my Lord.
--I pray to meet more all ready to listen to Jesus!
--To let Him begin a good work in their heart in Him!
My grandfather Stafford was a Pastor, and small farmer, and I learned a lot about both, from him.
--He planted "good seed" in all kinds of "soils" and many have borne "many-fold" as "good ground" of God.
--In lives well-lived, in love for the Lord. Good seed, good soil, bring harvests of good souls.
What kind of "soil" are you, would you say? "Good"?
--In the uncertainties of life, do you have a Savior?
--A home on high in heaven, secure in Jesus Christ?
--We are all soiled in sin, until Jesus saves us.
--I believed Jesus died for me. To trust and obey.
--He gave assurance, "of sins forgiven." Saved me.
--God .."has given assurance of this to all, by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
You can be! Make a simple commitment to Jesus to save, use, you.
--What harvests of blessings!
Dr. Wilbert D. Gough