Lesson 149-March 18, 2018
“The Seed, The Soil, The Sower”
Scripture: Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:3-9, Luke 8:5-8
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the kinds of soil in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Soils).
Introduction: “This parable is often called that of the sower. When in truth the point of this story is that similar seed sown in different soils bear differing results. So this may more exactly be called the parable of the soils.” Hobbs
The Parable of the Soils (Sower)
(v3b) “A sower went out to sow.” The picture is the familiar scene of the farmer sowing seed in his field. As the farmer broadcast (sows) the seed it fell on various types of ground (soils). Jesus is going to use this para- ble to describe how people hear and respond to His teaching and message. As the farmer sows the seed by hand it was impossible to control accurately where all the seed would fall.
Question: What are some factors that may determine where the seeds fall?
(v4) “And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.” “Wayside” = “hodas”, “path”, “road.” Connecting fields in Jesus day were paths used by travelers. Most often these paths (roads) were near the edge of the fields around the borders but sometimes these paths crossed through a field as well. The paths (roads) would become hard packed as the results of the travelers. The soil became hard and packed down and would remain untilled. As the farmer walked about sowing the seed some seed would fall on the harden soil.
(v4) “and the birds came and devoured them.” The seed laying on top of this harden soil literally became easy pickings for the birds. The birds were able to easily see the seeds and feast upon the exposed seed.
During the summer and fall of 2016 many places in North Alabama experienced a severe drought. Our family farm was certainly no exception. The farm that in years past was pasture and cropland is now a tree farm. The majority of the land is covered in seventeen year old hardwood trees with pine trees planted about the borders and throughout the hardwoods providing corridors for wildlife. Throughout the timber there are selected fields for the planting of wildlife food plots. These field are planted at appropriate times to provide food and nutri- tional resources for wildlife of all types but primarily for deer. During the severe drought of Fall 2016, the fields were prepared and sowed in hope of rain. Preparation of the fields included soil disking, fertilizing, and sowing of seeds. The seeds were a mixture of rye, oats, wheat, clover, and Australian winter peas. Due to the lack of rain, the field received a second sowing but the prognostication of the weather channel and National Weather Service failed us and there was still no rain. Finally a third attempt was made to sow the fields but as with the two prior attempts to no avail. Over a two month period of time the fields had been sown three times because of the extreme drought and unseasonable high temperatures.
Finally the long awaited and yearly holiday arrived called “The Opening Day of Deer Season”. As tradition would have it, myself, along with family members were occupying our favorite deer stands and shooting hous- es on this special day. Unlike any opening day before or since, what we saw was a tremendous amount of fowl (birds) landing in the fields feasting on the remaining seeds that were lying on top of the ground. With the third planting, there was no time to “turn the seed” under or run a cultipacker over the seed so the seed without
the covering of soil or rain provided a buffet for every type and kind of bird for miles. What in every other average year would have been a lush green field providing a scrumptious delicacy for all the community deer now was a simple smorgasbord for our feathered friends. They had been and were continuing to devour all the seeds.
We are told in verse 4, “the birds came and devoured” the seeds that had fallen by the “wayside.” Please see Luke 8:5.
(v5) “Some fell on stony places.” The second type of ground (soil) that Jesus mentions in the parable He re- fers to as the “stony places” or “rocky places.” “Some” refers to the same type seed that was sown but fell on the “wayside.” Throughout Galilee and the region much of the soil is underlaid with limestone rock. This type of rock does not refer to small rocks or pebble; for the farmer in this day spent countless hours picking up and ridding his fields of such small rocks. Jesus is referring to the underlying beds of rock that were found in many fields below the surface of the field. These rocks were at one time deeper than a plow could reach but with the passing of time and soil erosion
(v5) “where they did not have much earth” (soil). Because of the quick germinating process and the thin layer creating a lack of soil, the roots were unable to penetrate the rocks. The seeds would quickly germinate in this environment but there was not soil to provide depth of the roots or nutrition to the plant and thus we are told in (v6) “But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had not root they withered away.” Being rooted in very shallow soil without a sufficient root system, with little moisture because of the (rocky) stony ground, the young small plants would spring up very quickly only to quickly wither away.
(v7) “And some fell among thorns and the thorns sprang up and chaffed them.” Again we see the word “some”, Greek word “allo”, to help the listener understand that the seeds sown were the same. The same kind of seed was sown on the “wayside” on the “stony ground” and now “some seed fell among thorns.” Our first question might be why would any farmer sow his seeds among the thorn bushes? We find the answer to this question in verse (7b), “and the thorns sprang up and choked them.”
No farmer would intentionally try to sow seed among thorn bushes. Jesus was describing the seeds that were sown in what appeared to be good soil. It looked as those the seeds would thrive into mature productive plants. But this was not the case. When the seeds began to germinate and sprout with all the potential to be- coming a mature flourishing plant this seed was not on the harden soil of the “wayside” or the “stony ground” of the limestone rocks but rather initially appears to be sown on good ground with all the provisions to grow into maturity but something happens! Just as the seed begins to grow, thorn bearing weeds begin growing as well. The “thorns grew” alongside the plants that had sprouted robbing the plants of the necessary moisture and valuable nutrients. The growth of the thorns overtook the planted seeds growth and “choked them.”
(v8) “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.” The fourth type of soil that Jesus describes is a “good soil.” It was not the hardened soil of the “wayside”, it was not the shallow soil of the “stony” soil, nor was it the “thorn” infested soil but it was “good” soil.
This soil was well prepared and ready for the seed. The seed found everything that was needed to grow, pro- duce, and flourish. Notice the word “others” in (v8). The word “others” in the Greek is “alla” which is simply the plural form of “allo.” It is the very same seed sown by the very same farmer but this seed is sown on “good ground” (soil).
Notice the outcome of the seed sown on good ground. The outcome is absolutely remarkable. The yield for some was 100 fold, some 60 fold, and some 30 fold. What makes this remarkable is that for the farmer of this day, “in Palestine, during New Testament times, the average ratio of harvested grain seeds to those planted is
said to have been less than 8 to 1. The yield that Jesus speaks were truly phenomenal.” MacArthur
The point of Jesus’ story was that the same kind of seed was sown by the same farmer in all the soils. The out- come was different not because the seeds or the farmer was different but because the ground (soil) was differ- ent. The difference in the results was due to the soils not the seed or sower.
(v9) “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He that is able to understand let him understand! Question: What do you think was the meaning of this parable?