4And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. 16No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Jesus’ ministry is in full swing as He travels through the region of the Galilee. While the crowds who come out to hear His message grow daily, so do the numbers of those who are opposed to His ministry. When He tells the parable of the Sower and the Seeds, He is pointing to both of those crowds, recognizing their differing responses to His Words. The primary message of this parable is one of encouragement; no matter the response to the Message of the Gospel, we simply must continue to share it. As Jesus tells this famous parable of the Sower, one must not assume that everyone in the crowd has come to believe in His mission and purpose. Jesus has proven to be a provider and something of a local celebrity. He has healed the sick, cast out demons, and fed the masses. Let’s face it, He’s good entertainment! Now He draws a line between those who “get it” and those who don’t.
One of the questions often asked of this text is “why would the sower waste the seed on the rocks, the path, and in the weeds? Why not just plant the seed in the rich soil only?” That’s a good question and the answer points squarely into the loving and generous character of God. His message isn’t just for a select few. It is for everyone, no matter who they are or where they are located. God’s grace is generously available to all and His Word needs to be broadcast widely and freely. God is willing to “waste” His message on those who will not accept it.
The simple phrase “and while he was sowing” governs the consideration of the four types of ground on which the seed falls. After sowing, the seed remaining on tillable ground will be plowed under, and, depending on the nature of the ground, some of the plowing will be ineffective. In essence, the four kinds of ground indicate four types of reception or reaction to the Gospel. The disciples will encounter these when preaching. Some hearers are like the hard, bare road, and the preaching yields nothing because the seed is not allowed even to begin to grow. Some are like the rocky soil, and the preaching will be heard at first, but the catechumens will quickly wither. Some are in the midst of thorns; the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world choke out the life generated by the Gospel. Some are the good soil; the preaching takes root and miraculous fruit results. This is a comfort to the disciples—and to any preacher or catechist in the church.
Just, A. A., Jr. (1996). Luke 1:1–9:50 (p. 342). St. Louis, MO: CPH.
The explanation of the parable doesn’t not remain a mystery, for Jesus explains it to His true audience; the Disciples. They are the ones who will experience exactly what He is talking about in this illustration need to know that when they share the story, no everyone will fall at the feet of Lord in belief. There were will many (most?) who will reject what they hear, just as is happening to Jesus Himself! But that doesn’t mean they give up. The Seed still needs to be freely and liberally scattered.
Those of us who embrace the Words of Christ are bound to share those truths just as freely and liberally as did Jesus and the Disciples. Rejection or acceptance of what we share is not our problem. Our only goal and task is to share it.
Dear Lord, help me remember to constantly share what You have done with and for me. Help me to be a liberal sharer of Your Gospel and Your grace and help me not to concern myself with the acceptance or rejection of my hearers but instead to pray for them and leave them in Your capable hands. In Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen.