The Parable of the Sower is Jesus’ longest. It is also His most in depth explanation of a parable. There should be little wonder then about it’s meaning and its importance.
The clear message is that the gospel is the seed of the kingdom. It has to be sown and when it is different, results follow based on the kind of soil on which the seed lands.
The unstated great truth is that we, as people with a mind and heart, can change the kind of ground we are. We may not by natural endowments or from circumstances of our lives be ready automatically to receive the seed when it comes. But we can carefully examine this parable and realize that even physical ground can be improved. Anyone with a farming background knows that.
Growing up on the farm I came to realize that constant improvement of the soil was essential to success in agriculture. So much of America was plowed for the first time by the pioneers to make the ground ready for planting. It was hard work, but it paid off. Timber was cleared. Hard ground was broken up. Seed was planted. Each year soil preparation became easier than the one before. Lesson learned. Now I can apply that to my mind and heart. Maybe verses like “think of these things” (Philippians 4:8) can be useful reminders of how this works.
Herod, the tetrarch who put John to death, is an example of someone who would not change the type soil he was. Herod had heard John’s message. In fact, “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man and he protected him. When he heard him, he did many things and heard him gladly.” (Mark 6:20). The seed was sown by John and Herod was who he was. And, although stirred by John’s life and message, it wasn’t enough for him to change his heart to let the message take root and produce a righteous outcome. Instead, the story of Herod and John ended tragically in John’s death. If Herod regretted that as we’d like to think he did, it didn’t make any difference. There was a time for change and Herod let it slip by him.
“At the end of the age the angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew13:49,50). We can’t put that on God but on ourselves. We’ve heard the words. What kind of soil are we? Do we need to pluck up and plow our hearts to let the seed germinate, grow and produce?
We can be grateful that the seed (gospel message) that produced Christians in the first century produces the same thing when sown today. When we believe what those who first heard the gospel believed and obey the same gospel in the same way they did, we become what they became.
Let’s never sow bad seed or be bad soil or fail to sow on ground that might become better if the recipients see the possible great reward. When God “gathers His wheat into the barn” we want to be a part of it.