Seed and Sower

The Parable of the Sower provides the key to understanding the other parables of Jesus. The point of the story is that the Kingdom of God began to invade the present age with the proclamation of the Good News by the “Son of Man.” He inaugurated the process. Ever since the Kingdom has been advancing throughout the Earth though largely unnoticed by humanity and even many followers of Jesus.

What is a parable? The Greek word for “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.

Sowing seeds - Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash
[Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash]

The parables told by Jesus were stories drawn from everyday life and often featured jarring images intended to grab the attention of his listeners. Each parable illustrated one or two points of comparison. Most often, the subject was the “
Kingdom of God” - (Mark 4:1-9).

In the Parable of the Sower, 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 point. Moreover, 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, an exaggerated figure designed to catch our attention. With his Kingdom, regardless of its insignificant beginnings, the results will exceed all expectations.


The disciples asked why “outsiders” receive his teachings in parables and without explanation, yet INSIDERS RECEIVE PARABLES WITH EXPLANATIONSParables 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.

His 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 found in his teaching ministry. Some men react in faith to the Good News of the Kingdom, but others are blinded by unbelief and reject it. The failure of some to understand is a sign of divine judgment due to their hardness of heart.

Jesus declared that his disciples 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 word “parable” occurs twelve times in the Gospel of Mark. Each time it is in a context of opposition to Jesus. By means of parables, he revealed the “mystery of the Kingdom” to hearers, but he also exposed his opponents and their hardness of heart.

In Isaiah, the prophet received a vision and was called to bring God’s words to Israel. But the people would not heed, so judgment followed. Nevertheless, a remnant of Israel did heed the prophet’s words.


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

The proclamation of the Gospel by a ragtag group of Galileans appeared weak to the human mind, but that small beginning initiated something far larger. In the end, the Gospel will usher in the long-promised reign of God, including everlasting life for everyone who responds to it in repentance and with faith.

The Parable of the Sower 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.



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