Posted by: Brad Beaman | March 15, 2008

The Parable of the Sower Mathew 13:1-23



Why is it that one person responds to the gospel and is deeply moved and all they can think and talk about is sharing Christ with others while at the same time another person seems unmoved that Jesus died for them?

You find one person moved to tears by the gospel and another cold and distant. Not everyone responded the same way to Jesus message. Do you notice in evangelism that someone people responds enthusiastically and another is hardened and even antagonistic.

Some thought Jesus was the son of God, their awaited Messiah. There were others that thought Jesus was a deceiver, even the devil. Why do people respond so differently? Jesus sheds some light on this in His Parable of the Sower. This parable gives insights on the various conditions of the heart.

Jesus came out of a house along the Sea of Galilee. There was such large crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus that he is preaching from a boat to the people on the shore. The large crowd was there listening. But what kind of hearers were there? What kind of hearers are there today?

Jesus tells us about four ways people respond to the gospel. This is one of the parables that Jesus himself interprets. It tells how truth enters or fails to enter the hearts of men.

Jesus uses an every day truth of farmer sowing seed. As Jesus spoke this he may have seen a farmer off in the distance scattering seed.

Here is what we find out about what Jesus really means when he tells the story of the farmer sowing seed:
The Sower is the one who preaches the gospel.
The Seed is the Gospel.
The Soils are the conditions of the hearts of men.

The main point of the parable is the effect of the Gospel is determined by the heart of the hearer. Because this is the main point some people like to call this the parable of the soils. But Jesus called this the parable of the sower in verse 18 when he says, listen then to what the parable of the sower means.

Why do preachers of the gospel get discouraged? It is because they have the most important message of all and yet so many people have little regard for it. If you had the cure to cancer, you would tell it to all. But it would be discouraging if no one acted on your message.

But there is encouragement to all who share the gospel from the parable of the sower. Not everyone will respond to your message, but some will. That is something to be encouraged about. You can expect people to respond in various ways.

The hard hearted hearer
Matthew 13:4
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Matthew 13:19
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

We sometimes speak of someone as hard-hearted. You just can’t get a message into their hearts. This kind of person is represented by a trodden path. This is the person who is closed to the gospel. They may have a million different reasons but the bottom line is that this is a person that is not interested to receive the gospel.

We find in Vs 4 that some of the seed fell along the path. The path is hard and not easily penetrated so the birds came and ate the seeds sown along the path. Paths along the field become trampled by foot. Soon these paths become as hard as pavement. What if you planted a corn field in a paved parking lot?

You would not get any crops. It is not the kind of soil that will support the seed to grow into a mature plant. The path is the hard heart of men. The bird is the devil that snatches away the Gospel.

The heart often becomes hard over the years. After rejecting the gospel so many times they become hardened. I talked to a man saved at age of forty years. He said the odds of his being saved were one in three thousand.

There are so many people who have hardened their heart to the gospel. They have become too hard hearted to respond to Jesus message. They are the ones that make evangelism unpleasant.

It is dangerous when the young person thinks; I am young so I will live my life according to the world’s ways and then in my later life receive Christ. They may come to find out the moment of opportunity is past for them and they have become hard hearted. Satan can snatch the gospel from them, as easy as a bird eats the seed that falls on the hard path.

Shallow Hearers

Matthew 13:5-6
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 root.

Matthew 13: 20-21
The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Some seeds will fall on rocky soil where the earth covers the rock. The seeds can’t go deep. These seeds germinate quickly and spring up very fast. But when the sun comes out there is no substance. The plant withers and dies. The roots never really penetrated the soil.

Do you know the impulsive person? First they take up jogging and buy jogging shoes, sweats, headband and a sports watch. They get up one morning drink a raw egg and jog five miles. Afterwards they get sore and tired and quit. Before you know it they have moved on to the next activity. They are enticed into something else.

Jesus spoke of the spiritually impulsive person. Think of the crowds that were willing to follow Jesus until things got tough. Even he is talking about the shallow hearers to a massive crowd that gathered there at the Sea of Galilee. Many of them would prove to be shallow hearers.

Here is the one who hears the gospel and responds openly and emotionally. Troubles and trials come and that’s it for them. There are gone. Many people make spur of the moment decisions and they are gone. Others go from one great meeting to another with no real commitment. They are Spiritual gypsies. They are shallow hearers.

The crowds are ready to gather and hear whoever is popular. But Jesus path led him to the cross. He calls us to take up our own cross and follow him. There are many superficial believers who will just wilt away when the trials and tribulations come. These trials work perseverance in true Christians.

The shallow hearers may be attracted to the blessings, abundant life and heaven. But they don’t count the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus is a call for obedience.

After we have a negative experience with the hard hearted we get excited when someone shows a quick response to the gospel. But without really becoming rooted in Christ they wilt away.

Compromising Hearer

Matthew 13:7
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

We have the luxury in this parable of having the explanation of the meaning that Jesus gave in private to his disciples. He gives us this explanation in verse 22.

Matthew 13:22
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

For some who receive the gospel their spiritual life is choked out by the worries of life. We have three enemies to our spiritual life; the world, the flesh and the devil. The devil worked on the hard heated and snatched away the seed. The flesh got the best of the shallow hearer.

This time it is the cares of the world that choke out the sprouts soon after the seed has been sown and the shoots start to sprout. The deceitfulness of wealth is what ends the spiritual life of the seed that falls among the thorns, the compromising hearer.

The deceitfulness of wealth is not limited just to the rich. The poor who are working hard to get ahead can be snatched away spiritually by wealth too. For the rich the trap of pursuing luxuries and pleasures can choke out their spiritual life.

They may professed to follow Christ at one time. But now there is no evidence of spiritual fruit. They have no spiritual power. Their lives do not reflect the godliness of Jesus Christ. It is ironic what some call the “good things in life” may actually be the briers and thistles that choke out the gospel

Reproducing Christian

Matthew 13:8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Matthew 13:23
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Don’t be discouraged because some people you work with are not continuing on in their walk with Christ. Some will produce spiritual fruit yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. We have a name for these kinds of people. We call them the super spreaders. When researchers track down the infectors of certain viruses they can sometimes point to a few who affected the masses.

You sow the gospel in the heart of one super spreader and they have started a spiritual movement. The few that do! It is exciting when someone responds and serves Jesus and reproduces. That is what it’s all about, yea.

Not everyone you share the gospel with will have hardened hearts. You should have hope. There are those who will receive the gospel for what it is, the words of eternal life. You don’t always know when seed has fallen on good soil.

I once held a youth retreat and on that retreat one of the youth wanted to become a Christian. We took a walk down a quiet road and he accepted Christ. But he faded away. Three years later I received a tape in the mail from his baptism service. He recounted everything about our walk and accepting Christ. He talked of his plan of serving the Lord in full time ministry.

We sow in hope. We are anticipating the gospel seed to fall on good soil in a receptive heart. When it does we reap one hundred fold.

We will have joy when we share the gospel. It is never easy to go out and share Christ with others but there is a joy in it. Psalm 126:6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

There is a principle that when you sow abundantly you reap abundantly. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says; Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

This passage may be talking about your financial giving, but the laws of sowing and reaping apply to sharing the gospel. The more you share Jesus Christ, the more seed that will fall on good soil.



  1. Brad,
    While looking for added material for the youth lesson this week, I was so excited to find your writings. Hope all is well with you and your family!
    Randy and Melanie
    FBC Meridian

    • Hi Randy,

      I will pray for your study with the youth! Missing you all at FBC Meridian!

      In Christ, Brad B

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