Seed and Sower

The Parable of the Sower provides the key to understanding the other parables of Jesus. Its point is that the kingdom of God began to invade the present age with the proclamation of the kingdom of God by the “Son of Man.” He inaugurated the process, and ever since, the kingdom has been advancing throughout the earth though largely unnoticed by humanity.

And what is a parable? The Greek word commonly rendered “parable” means “something that is thrown alongside, to cast beside” (Strong’s - #G3850). It is a saying that is laid alongside something else for comparison - an analogy.

Christ’s parables were stories drawn from everyday life and often featured jarring images intended to grab his audience’s attention. They illustrated one or two points of comparison. His parables most often concerned the “kingdom of God” - (Mark 4:1-9).

In this parable, the stress is on HOW THE SEED INTERACTS WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOIL. The “Sower,” the “seed,” and the method of sowing are the same for each soil type.

What happens to the “seed” once it contacts the “soil” is the real point, and the “seed” falls on four soil types - HARDENEDROCKYTHORNY, and FERTILE soil.

The description of harvests ranging from thirty to sixty to a hundredfold is extraordinary. This is an exaggerated figure designed to catch the audience’s attention. With his kingdom, regardless of how insignificant its beginnings may be, the results will exceed all expectations.


The disciples asked Jesus why “outsiders” receive his teachings in parables and without explanation, YET INSIDERS RECEIVE PARABLES WITH EXPLANATIONSParables serve to separate insiders from outsiders. They both reveal AND conceal information. They are a blessing to some but bring judgment to others.

  • (Mark 4:10-12) - “And when he was alone, they who were about him with the twelve questioned him as to the parables. And he was saying to them: To you, the mystery has been given of the kingdom of God, whereas, to them who are outside, in parables are all things coming to pass that they may surely look and yet not see, and surely hear and yet not understand, lest once they should return and be forgiven.

Christ’s saying alludes to a passage in the book of Isaiah - “Go! And say to this people: HEAR ON BUT DO NOT DISCERN. SEE ON BUT DO NOT PERCEIVE, stupefy the heart of this people, and their ears make heavy, and their eyes overspread, LEST THEY SEE WITH THEIR EYES, and with their ears should hear, and their heart should discern and come back, AND THEY BE HEALED.

The contrast is between those who hear the parable and receive its explanation and those who do not. This is the pattern in his teaching ministry.

Some men react in faith to the good news, but others are blinded by unbelief and reject it. The failure of some to understand is a sign of divine judgment on their hardness of heart.

Jesus declared to his disciples that they had been “given the MYSTERY of the kingdom of God.” The Greek noun rendered “mystery” does not refer to something esoteric or mysterious, but to something hidden that is disclosed (mystérion – Strong’s - #G3466).

The unveiling of the mystery is “GIVEN.” It cannot be acquired through human effort or intellect. It must be received from God. The “mystery” is revealed to those who follow him and hearken to his words.

The word “parable” occurs twelve times in the gospel of Mark, and each time in a context of opposition to Jesus. By means of parables, he reveals the “mystery of the kingdom” to hearers, but he also exposes his opponents and their hardness of heart.

In Isaiah, the prophet received a vision of Yahweh sitting on his throne when he heard his call to bring the words of God to Israel. He was warned that the people would not heed his words, and inevitably, judgment would follow. Yet a remnant of Israel did heed the words of Yahweh.


The parable concerns the process of the kingdom expanding in the world, and how men respond to it. It is being implemented through the proclamation of the gospel, first by Jesus, then by his disciples - (Mark 4:13-20).

The proclamation of the kingdom by a ragtag group of Galileans appeared weak to the human mind. But that small beginning initiated something far larger. But the results could not be seen at the time the “seed” was sown.

In the end, the proclamation of the gospel will usher in the long-promised reign and realm of God, including everlasting life for everyone who responds to it in repentance and faith.

The parable is about the four different ways the word of the kingdom is received. The seed sown on the hardened soil meets with no positive response. Some seed is received initially with enthusiasm but then forsaken when circumstances become challenging. Some receive the seed, but then it is smothered by the competing forces of this age. The seed that falls on good soil represents the men and women who hear the gospel, respond to it with faith, and then bear fruit.

Jesus faced outright rejection by some, initial acceptance by others who were not prepared to pay the required costs, and acceptance by still others who later recanted because of the deceitfulness of riches. It is the same for every disciple who heeds the call and begins to sow the good seed of the kingdom of God.


His Superior Word

The Mission