We’ve all heard sermons, Bible studies, devotionals, and Sunday school lessons that focus on the parable of the sower. This important teaching of Jesus is recorded in the gospel of Matthew: And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 13:3-9). Instead of focusing on the seed and its fate, the focus of this post will be on the sower.
With the way that Jesus presents this parable, there are several lessons we can learn about the sower even though the only true reference specifically about the sower is found in the first two verses of the passage: And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up (Matthew 13:3-4). These verses contain only a very basic description of the sower – all we know is that the sower is a man. It is not because Jesus didn’t think that women were not capable of sowing wheat, but that Jesus was using a common image – something that everyone who was hearing that day had at some time either had done themselves or had seen. But other than that, there is no more facts or observations given about the sower other than what was given here.
The object of the parable – the sower – is…us!
This morning, as I did my personal Bible reading, something about this passage really jumped off the page. Think about what Jesus told the disciples before he ascended into Heaven: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel of Mark records the same event: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16). Just as Jesus had commanded the disciples to spread the gospel, we, too are given the commission to spread the gospel. We are to become sowers of the gospel seed to the extent the parable He used presented the role of the sower. If we are truly objective about the information we are given about the sower, we understand he was out in the fields sowing with a purpose. Jesus gave us that purpose; Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23). We provide a demonstration of our willful obedience when we share the gospel message with others.
The parable: the sower was indiscriminate about the sowing
One of the many lessons about the sower in this passage is that the sower was indiscriminate – he did not make any judgment – about his sowing. He didn’t stop to determine the soil type but just kept sowing the seeds he had. If we stop and ponder this aspect of the parable, what Jesus is teaching is that we have an obligation to sow the seeds of the gospel message of Jesus without giving any consideration of the soil – the person to whom we are sharing the message of salvation. Too many times we allow ourselves to be moved by the flesh, by our own judgment. Although we may feel the Holy Spirit leading us to share the gospel with someone, often we won’t because we are trying to figure out the type of soil their heart is made of. I’ve done this; I am sure if you are honest with yourself, you’ve probably done this too. David was led by the Holy Spirit to write, Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart (Psalms 44:21) and also in the writings of Samuel: But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God sees and judges by the heart because we base our judgment on appearance.