4 Things the Parable of the Sower Teaches Us about Our Future

How can we make wiser decisions now in order to enjoy a better future? 

Updated May 01, 2024
4 Things the Parable of the Sower Teaches Us about Our Future

"But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” - Matthew 13:23

As Jesus was standing by the “lake”—aka, the Sea of Galilee—the crowds were so large and overwhelming that he stepped into a boat and sat down to teach while the people stood on the shore. One of my favorite Bible teachers – Bill Creasy – loved to teach that we ought to picture ourselves in the middle of the scenes in the Bible. This scene – among many others - is a bit difficult to imagine, wondering how in the world everyone in the crowd could hear Jesus. I always imagined that it had to have been a miracle of the Lord, ensuring that thousands of people could hear over the din of the surroundings and the crowd. Nonetheless, it was there that Jesus taught one of his better-known parables – but one which seems to seldom be discussed or preached. The parable of the sower.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no roots.  Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still, other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” - Matthew 13:3b-9

The disciples later asked Jesus why he always taught in parables. He answered them in, at least in my opinion, a bit of an odd way. He replied:

“Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'" - Matthew 13:11-13

Then, after quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus tells them in verses 16-17:

"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

“Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.” In other words, blessed are you because your eyes and ears are opened to understand the meaning – the truth of the teaching. And yet Jesus still goes on to explain the parable. In his explanation, Jesus describes the four different areas where the seed has landed: the seed sewn along the path, that sown on rocky ground, the seed sewn among the thorns, and, lastly, the seed sewn on fertile soil. Certainly, for those who are farmers or even homeowners who have a yard they might plant, the first three of these are certainly areas to be avoided with whatever we may be planting. Sometimes though, things, and we do get weeds in our gardens. (Jesus covers that, as well, in the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-29 - but that’s for another time.)

The seed sewn on the pathway is pretty clear – they hear it, but their hearts and minds are already closed off and they’re never going to listen and accept it. But what about the others? Perhaps it’s worth taking a look – not just looking from afar, however, but rather reading and studying it to determine where we might fit into the parable. 

1. Planting firm roots produces biblical joy.

"The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away." - Matthew 13:20-21

Trouble or persecution. At first, that seems so easy to define – the intense persecution of the church by Rome in the 1st century and persecution by totalitarian regimes, such as Russia, China, North Korea, and so many others. In the Eastern Block, for example, many Christian churches were converted into monuments and museums for atheism, with some estimates that as many as 10 to 20 million Christians were killed. This persecution continues today in Muslim-ruled countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and so many more, where believers are jailed and tortured for their faith.

Here in the U.S., such persecution is far less extreme. But…the LGBTQ community constantly threatens churches and Christian organizations. Vandalism can be costly and rampant. Harsh criticism of Christian beliefs by progressive and far left-leaning groups is quite common. Accusations and labels such as Christian Nationalist, Christian Fundamentalist, the religious right, and worse - fascists, racists, misogynists, and homophobes - all labels utilized to attack Christians for their support of Biblical values. So it is that many, when given the option, choose “no religious affiliation.” On surveys, many will hesitate to affiliate their faith and their political beliefs. Or, at their place of employment, stay silent when conversations turn political and the “Christian right” gets bashed.

"Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." -Luke 9:26

2. Faith yields a grateful perspective. 

"The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful." - Matthew 13:.22

It’s so easy to push God to the edges of our busy lives, which are consumed by family obligations, work, finances, and the drive for success. We live lives of comparison rather than being content with what we have now. Enough is never enough – we want “just a little bit more.” We live for the “if only’s” and “someday when’s” of life. Debt leaves us stressed, frustrated, and driven to work harder. 

We practice religion, but we also practice lust, greed, materialism, anger, selfishness, pride, deceit, ungodly entertainment, and worldly philosophies. Our busyness becomes our top priority—our religion. We look for peace in all the wrong places—vacation, kids who don’t fight, the absence of conflict. Money is a powerful force. We work for it, save it, spend it, use it to satisfy our desires – then wish we had more. 

Human desires are a limitless, ever-expanding void. 

We may have “everything” in the world and still be miserable—still want more. We live with the wrong things at the center of our lives. We say we know God, but we allow earthly achievement, admiration, opinions of others, and identity in our world to be our driving force. We are like the inn in Bethlehem – we have no room for Jesus in our lives, but we sure do for everything else. We are simply too preoccupied with other things to truly care about Christ. We know about God – but we don’t know God. And while we love the idea of him, we quickly get lost in what the world has to offer. 

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" - Mark 8:36

3. Fear of God allows true wisdom to blossom.

"But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” -Matthew 13:23

It’s not the religious hoops we jump through, the prayers we pray, the sins we’ve confessed, or even the Communion crackers we’ve consumed that demonstrate our love for the Father. It’s far less complicated than that. 

God wants followers who act on what Jesus said and did. 

He wants Disciples of Christ. Words are meaningless – the life we live speaks volumes. How did Jesus live? He didn’t think more of himself than he ought. He lived in humility. He was selfless, obedient, and non-judgmental. Jesus wants us to prioritize him and keep him in our hearts always, and when we do, he will live in our hearts. He said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me." (John 15:4 ESV)

What was Jesus’ strategy for spreading the gospel message? Did he lock in on communicating a specific doctrine? Did he test the disciples on their knowledge of scripture? Did he tell them what Bible version they should read? No – he simply told them to love one another. Like money, love is an incredibly powerful force. 

What attracts people to faith is not a condemnation of how they're living, but what awaits them to be found in Christ. 

“Producing a hundred times” does not mean we all need to be Billy Grahams. We don’t need to be pastors or theologians – we simply have to love the Lord with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, and all our strength. And we need to love others as we love ourselves. (Luke 10:27) A pastor once told me of a time he played golf, joining a threesome whom he didn’t know. Their language during the entire front nine was like that of a sailor. Then, at the turn, one happened to ask what he did for a living. When he told them he was a pastor – he said their language was G-rated for the rest of the round. Just imagine if we hung around Jesus all day, every day. Isn’t that how we should live our lives when others know we follow him?

How different would you act today if you knew it would be your last day on earth before meeting God face to face? Who would you call to beg forgiveness? Who would you tell to tell me I love you? Who would you forgive? That’s how Jesus wants us to live – on good soil with him as our foundation. 

4. Our lives reveal our priorities. 

Which soil are you in? If you’re reading this, it would seem you are on the path, but only you—and God—can answer the question as to which of the others seems to apply. Jesus didn’t allow for an in-between. It’s black or white. Is your seed planted in rocky soil, among the thorns – or in good, rich soil? As this is written, it happens to be the season for the NBA and NHL playoffs, along with major league baseball—all attracting thousands of fans. Those fans watch the game and cheer—but they are not on the court, ice, or field, playing in the games. So…when it comes to Jesus, are you simply a fan in the stands – or are you a player on the field? 

If you were on trial for being a disciple of Jesus Christ – would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you?

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Jill Wellington

SWN authorGreg Grandchamp is the author of "In Pursuit of Truth, A Journey Begins" — an easy-to-read search that answers to most common questions about Jesus Christ. Was he real? Who did he claim to be? What did he teach? Greg is an everyday guy on the same journey as everyone else — in pursuit of truth. You can reach Greg by email [email protected]  and on Facebook


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