Parable of the Soils and Applying it Today

The parable of soils (grounds) sometimes called the parable of the Sower is well known and occurs in three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). We can learn much from this section of scripture as it is common to all men, women and children.

Mark 4:14-20 (NKJV)

14 The sower sows the word.  

15  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.  

16  These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;  

17  and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.  

18  Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,  

19  and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

20  But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Historical Background

Principal grains in Biblical times were wheat and barley. Fields were generally marked by a natural boundary and cultivated by plough which scratched the surface only a few inches deep. The sod was not turned over to the right or the left, and if the soil was not fertile or properly broken up to receive the seed there would be no crop. Hence, the emphasis of Jesus on properly preparing the ground and making it good by removing the stones and thorns, and by breaking up the soil to receive seed (Mark 4:4-8). The word corn in the Bible really means wheat.

Explaining the Parable

In verse 14 the sower is Jesus (Son of Man:- Matthew 13:37) teaching (sowing) about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:19). So now, Jesus spreads the seed through His body the global church as we live, teach and share the good news as outlined in the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-20). So are you sowing the word or are you allowing Jesus to sow the Word through you.

Are you teaching/preaching nice sermons and your opinions or the pure unadulterated scriptures. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches people as it is He that gives light to the message that each one of us needs to hear at that time.

[1] The ones by the wayside

– Hear the word and Satan comes immediately and takes/steals away the word that was sown in their hearts. This is Satan’s first business (2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 13:19; Luke 8:12).

This is unprepared soil which could not receive or grow seed. We have all come across people like this in the world. What is important to remember is that someone sows, another waters and God gets the increase. You cannot unhear words. Your mind stores everything so whatever you share with people will be used by the Holy Spirit in the future to convict man of his sin and that there is a saviour Jesus Christ who is the only way to God. 

[2] Stony Ground

Hear the word and receive it with gladness. They have no root in themselves and so endure only for a little time. When tribulation or persecution arises for the word they have heard and trying to do it immediately they stumble. They have no root to endure, no stability to stand persecution, trial, and misunderstanding which come (Mark 4:16-17, Matthew 13:20-21, Luke 8:13). This is can be equated to partially prepared ground, but the stones were not taken out, so the seed could not grow and fully develop.

This could be due to not being birthed into the Kingdom properly. E.g. Repentance, understanding baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit and not reading the bible. They need to understand the gospel properly and that the Christian life is not easy but fulfilling and we need to lean on and help each other. That we need follow the example of Jesus in the Gospels in our daily lives and learn from the book of Acts. Study and mull over the Pauline Epistles as they teach about the New Creation reality and what that looks like. Paul was given the revelation about the new creation by Jesus Himself and it is at the core of why and how we can operate as Jesus in this world now and everyday.

In this early stage we need to disciple this ground by being available for questions and loving support. Make sure they know how important it is to read their Bibles everyday and pray in the Spirit. They are in a spiritual war and this needs to be understood. In the end we can supply all the help they need but it is up to them to apply themselves and know that Jesus never leaves them or forsakes them. Get them involved in doing the gospel, like street ministry and let them see the power and love of God operate in peoples lives.

[3] The ones sown among thorns

This illustrates those who hear the word and fail to produce fruit because the Word is choked by three things:

  1. The cares of the world or pleasures of life (Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22; Luke 8:14; 21:34, Galatians 5:18-21, 1 John 2:15-17). We all need to be careful that we do not get involved with the cares of the world. Social media is a prime place where we can get too involved with what is going on in other people’s lives, our city, our country and the world that we often cannot do anything about except pray.
  2. The deceitfulness of riches or the pride of life (Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22; Luke 8:14; 1 Timothy 6:8-10,17 1 John 2:15-17). We all know that money cannot buy us what we really need. It should be a means to and end and not an end. We all think that we handle money well and that it has not become a god in our lives. As it says above it is deceptive the way money creeps into our lives. A good way to combat this is to give money sacrificially regularly. I.e. Give so that it hurts you to give it away. Give regularly more than which is expected. Make it a habit but always in faith and not out of compunction. Pride is such a problem in the church as a whole and it has many causes. If you cannot accept prayer from a new born disciple as a simple example. We need to be able to listen to any criticism from anyone and see if it applies to our lives. God says we should humble ourselves.         
  3. The lusts of other things or pleasures and the lust of the eyes (Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14; 21:34; 1 John 2:15-17). Are you thinking about your next purchase or new thing that you want? Looking at images and things with lust on a regular basis. Do you prefer to watch TV than read your bible, pray or encourage someone? Does your husband or wife come before God? Do you have an idol like an animal or sport or other hobby that takes up too much time? Do you think about food a lot, and spend lots of time cooking and or over eat regularly?
[4] They which are sown on good ground

This illustrates those who hear the Word of God, who wholeheartedly and eternally surrender to obey it and to please God in all things. They get rid of all shallowness, fickleness, and irresponsibility, along with deceitfulness of riches and pleasures, lusts of the flesh, pride of life, and lusts for other things that would hinder them in living for God.

They are honest, true and conform to the letter to all known scriptural light as they get to know it (Matthew 13:23; Luke 8:15; 1 John 1:7).

Three Things Required

Hear the Word.” Over 155 times God commands men to hear Him and His Word. Not one time is there a hint that what He says will be hard to understand or that it needs any special interpretation. The entire Bible assumes that what it says is clear enough if men will only believe it as it reads and not change it.

Receive it.” This is the main battleground of man. If men could not understand the Bible there would be some reason for rejecting it.

Bring forth fruit.” When the Word of God is received and obeyed it will bring forth fruit (Isaiah 55:11)

This applies to each one of us and to the people that hear what we sow. We need to make sure that the seed that we sow is the word of God so it produces fruit. Furthermore, the Word that we hear needs to produce fruit. How much fruit do you have? It will be proportional to the amount of word you teach and do in deed that we produce fruit. People being set free with healing and sickness and disease. Receiving Jesus as Lord and becoming a new creation is such a great joy to see and witness. However it is the first step of many.


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