Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
Mark 4:1-20 (ESV)
With some of the parables Jesus gave, he didn’t give any explanation. Fortunately for us, he gave an explanation to his disciples about this one. This parable has been called the parable of the sower, the parable of the seeds and the parable of the soils. I think all three names are appropriate. The sower is in one sense the evangelist, but in a deeper sense, Jesus. It is Jesus who moves to bring the gospel to the world. The seed is the gospel of the kingdom of God. The four soils represent how the word of God is received.
This sower doesn't seem to care very much where his seeds fall. He seems to fling the seeds any which way. As Christians, we need to bring the gospel to the whole world. I hear talk of focused evangelism and strategic plans. I hear talk of customizing the message for a specific demographic. I am guilty of this kind of thinking as well. But here the sower spreads the seeds indiscriminately. The gospel is for every demographic. We don’t know who God has chosen to have faith, so we bring the gospel to everyone.
The seed is effective. This is why it is attacked. Satan will try to confuse a person by snatching away part of the message in order that they don’t fully understand the gospel. To those who truly understand, he will bring persecution in the hopes that they will love their life more than they love God. The world uses its lure of money and sinful pleasures to tempt people away from true faith in Christ. Yet if the soil is good, then the faith that comes from hearing the gospel will be fruitful. The seed will grow strong roots and sprout up healthy. The seed is effective.
Jesus spoke in parables to hide the secret of the kingdom from those outside. This parable of the sower describes this very thing. It is only by the Holy Spirit that a man can come to a true knowledge of the gospel. Why God chooses to do it this way, I’m not sure, but from this we can learn something about the message. Before we preach or proclaim the gospel to anyone, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will move in those who hear God's message.
If you are reading this today and do not believe, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the faith to believe. Ask to be the good soil, so that your sins can be washed away by the blood of Christ. Jesus was crucified for the sins of this world. He died and rose from the dead three days later. He now reigns in heaven. One day He will return to judge the world of its sins. Those who have faith in Him will be forgiven and have their name written in the book of life. Those who don’t will be cast in the lake of fire that was created for Satan and his demons.
My prayer for you is that your name will be written in the book of life. Have faith in Jesus. He took upon Himself the punishment that you deserve. He has given you the gift of eternal life. Believe this message and you will be saved.