Inspiration – Understanding the Parable of the Sower (Part 1)

Rev. Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower:

“Listen then to what the Parable of the Sower means: 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. 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. 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. 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.” (Matthew 13: 18-23)

One thing we need to see in order to understand the Parable of the Sower is that it is God who chooses us and gives us understanding. If you read the Parable of the Sower thinking we can decide to become Christians it takes on a very different meaning than if you understand that our salvation or acceptance of Jesus as our Saviour is entirely a work of God:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

So in the parable, we should not think the condition of the soil is a matter of personal choice. Looking deeper at this, the parable uses the word understanding twice, once for the seed that falls on the path and once for the seed that falls on good soil.

Because we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, God has to be in our reasoning process before we can understand the message of salvation.

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding. . .”( 1 John 5: 20a)

You cannot believe what you do not understand. So we cannot come to Jesus without receiving the understanding of God’s word first from Jesus.

It goes even deeper in the reasoning process. In teaching a difficult spiritual concept in John 6 Jesus twice points out that it is God who both draws us and enables us to come to Jesus.

“Jesus answered, ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6: 44)

Jesus went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6: 65)

So without God first working in our lives to draw and then enable us by giving us understanding of the Gospel message, the cross will only be foolishness to the listener. Without understanding it is easy for Satan to snatch away the message, or to blind the minds of unbelievers.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” (1 Corinthians 1:18a)

It is foolishness because they cannot understand it without the action of God in their lives.

“And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4: 3&4)

So as we read this parable we need to understand that it is God who chooses who will believe, He is the one who lets us understand. I invite you to open your Bible and read both the parable and the explanation Jesus gave, with these two concepts in mind.

In my next article, I will delve into understanding the parable even further.


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