4 As a large crowd was gathering, and people were coming to Jesus from every town, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the sky devoured it. 6 Other seed fell on the rock; when it grew up, it withered away, since it lacked moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground; when it grew up, it produced fruit: a hundred times what was sown.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.” 9 Then his disciples asked him, “What does this parable mean? ” 10 So he said, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that Looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
The parable of the sower is an interesting story. Most interpretations focus on the different types of soil (hearers of the Word) and the results of planting seeds (sharing the gospel message). But…what about the farmer? We do not often give him very much thought. But as it turns out, he’s very important to the meaning of the parable.
Growing up on a northwest Iowa farm taught me much about being a successful farmer. An abundant harvest does not materialize from dreams or desire but requires hard work and multifaceted planning. There is soil preparation that is required and seed procurement to manage. The farmer’s equipment must be ready to operate, and timeliness is critical. Once the farmer completes all of his planting efforts, he must then wait on the Lord to produce the harvest. The farmer cannot make it rain, he cannot totally prevent weeds from springing up, and he cannot change the effects that the soil ultimately has on the seeds. All of these variables are in God’s hands. However, the farmer does have a very powerful tool available—prayer! He can faithfully pray for the Lord of the harvest to bless his efforts and produce an overflowing harvest.
When reading the parable in Luke 8, one might think the sower is being careless as he tosses out the seed. Be assured—he is not. Instead, he is throwing out seed as freely as possible because he knows he does not have control over the soil’s impact on the seed. Everything required for a great harvest is in that little seed, but only fertile soil will produce the desired outcome. The farmer knew that some seed would fail because some soils are just not compatible for growth, but that fact did not deter him in his sowing efforts. He understood that success or failure was not the fault of the seed or the sower, but rather a result of the condition of the soil itself.
In context, Jesus is the sower, and He spent three years spreading the seed of the gospel. Notably, He never differentiated between worthy or unworthy soil, which represents the hearts of those who hear the message. Out of His desire to see as many as would come to Him, Jesus threw out as much seed as possible. He wanted an enormous harvest. The Great Commission found in Matthew 28 gives all believers that same responsibility. Jesus calls us to accept our commission and the hard work associated with seed sowing. He calls us to spread as much gospel seed as we can. We are to cover our efforts with prayer, asking the Lord of the harvest to work in the soil of hearts who would receive the gospel. May the harvest be abundant.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have you ever considered yourself a farmer sowing Gospel seeds?
- Are you allowing the Lord of the harvest to use you freely to sow Gospel seeds?
- Do you reluctantly spread Gospel seeds because you needlessly concern yourself with the nature of the “soil” receiving it?