Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
A SOWER, HIS SEED AND THE SOILS
Intro: Jesus Christ was the master teacher! He had the unique ability to
take scenes from everyday life and use them to teach profound spiritual
truths. Such is the case with the passage we have read this evening. As
Jesus sat by the seaside teaching, He began to talk about an image with
which everyone present was familiar. He talked about a man taking seed
into a field. He pictured that man casting the seed upon the earth. This
seed fell upon the ground and landed upon differing types of soils. Some
of the seed brought forth fruit, other seed did not.
Jesus used this common image to teach those who heard Him about the
condition of the human heart. Here, we see that the sower is the Holy Spirit,
the seed is the Gospel of grace and the soil is the human heart. From His
words, we learn that the human heart is like soil. It can either receive the
seed of the Gospel and produce a harvest of spiritual fruit, or it can be
unprepared and produce nothing of value for the glory of the name of God.
Tonight, I would like for us to investigate this parable. I want to preach
for a while about A Sower, His Seed And The Soils. As we move through
these verses, I would ask you to examine your own heart to see what kind
of soil you are. It may be that the Lord will have a word for your life in this
passage. Let's think for a time about A Sower, His Seed And The Soils.
I. THE PLAN OF THE SOWER
A. The sower in this parable is a man who goes into his field with the
intention of raising a crop and gleaning a harvest. He expects to
reap a profit from the crop he is sowing.
B. Such is the case with the Lord God. He sent His Son into the world
to die and He sends His Spirit into the world to convict lost people of
their sins so that He might reap a spiritual harvest to the glory of His
name, John 16:8. Just as a bountiful harvest brings riches and
honor to the farmer, so the salvation of souls brings glory to the
name of God. After all, the only reason God does anything,
including saving souls is for the glory of His name!
C. Even though the plan of God to save the lost is all for His glory, I still
praise God for the fact that He devised such a perfect plan to save
those who believe! If you are saved, you should praise His name
that He sent His Son Jesus to die for you; that He rose from the
dead; that in spite of your sinful condition, He loved you and
extended grace to you and saved your soul, Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:8-9.
We think we are doing a God a favor when we come to Him, the
very opposite it true!
II. THE POTENTIAL OF THE SEED
A. Every seed that was sown by the sower had the potential to produce
much more seed. Verse 8 and 23 bear this out. One little seed had
the potential to multiply itself 3000%; 6000% and even 10000%.
Those of you who farm have seen this principle in action. You can
plant one bean seed and from that seed reap many beans, with each
pod containing several more seeds. Sow one squash seed and it
will produce a plant that yields several fully grown squashes, each
containing dozens, if not hundreds or new seeds. Plant one corn
seed and watch it produce a plant that will yield several ears, each
containing many rows of fresh seeds. The seed had the potential to
reproduce itself many times over.
B. Such is the seed of the Gospel of grace. When it is sown in a ready
heart, it will germinate and reproduce itself over and over again. The
seed has the potential to begin small and to reproduce much.
C. It is worth noting that the seed always the changes ground in
which it is planted. What had been bare earth is now yielding a
harvest to the glory of the sower. When the seed of the Gospel finds
a lodging place in a heart that has been plowed by the Word of God
and tilled by the grace of God, it will germinate and leave that heart
forever changed and producing a harvest of spiritual fruit to the glory
of God. (Note: This is what the Lord wants from your life and mine!
He wants to produce His fruit in the hearts of His redeemed. Here
is a brief description of the kind of fruit He will produce within us
when we are the right kind of soil sown with the right kind of seed:
1. Sanctification - That is, we become more like Him - Rom.
6:22; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10.
2. Spirituality - That is, we behave more like Him - Gal. 5:22-23.
3. Souls - That is, we are burdened like Him - Rom. 1:13.
III. THE PROBLEM OF THE SOILS
A. As the sower sowed his seed, it fell upon four distinct kinds of soils.
We should mention that each of the soils was good soil, but the
condition the soil was in when the seed landed upon it determined
its potential for producing a suitable harvest. (Note: Remember that
we are comparing the soils to types of human hearts. Just as there
are no bad soils, there are no bad hearts. I know that "the heart is
desperately wicked above all things" and I am not trying to
contradict the Word of God. What I mean is there is no heart so bad
that it shouldn't receive the Gospel message. The Lord in His grace
allows the seed of the Gospel to fall upon hearts of all descriptions,
John 1:9; Psa. 19:1-6! What makes the heart unable to receive the
seed is its condition when the Gospel comes to it.)
B. A look at the four types of soils mentioned here by Jesus is very
revealing when it comes to understanding the human heart and why
people respond to the Gospel as they do. One of these soils is
going to paint a perfect picture of your heart. See if you can identify
what kind of soil you are as we look into these verses today.
1. The Hard Soil - v. 4, 19 - The "wayside" refers to the narrow
footpaths that ran beside and through the fields. These were the
roads of the day and the soil on them had become as hard as
concrete from the feet of the travelers that had walked upon
them. When the seed fell on the footpath, it could not penetrate
the soil and it remained there in the open, only to be devoured
by the fowls of the air.
We are told that this speaks of the person who hears the
Gospel, but who doesn't "understand it". That is, they cannot
make the connection between the claims of the Gospel and their
own life. Maybe they are steeped in sin and refuse to believe.
Maybe they are calloused and cold toward the things of God and
refuse to hear. Maybe they have hardened their hearts for years
against the call of the Gospel and like a path trampled underfoot
for centuries, they have become hard hearted! Whatever their
need, they are hard hearted and the seed of the Gospel cannot
penetrate the soil of their heart. When this happens, the devil
and his minions will snatch away to Gospel seed by diverting the
mind and helping the person become even more hardened
against God. This person has a heart that is not prepared for a
work of grace leading to salvation. (Note: We often wonder how
some people can continually spurn the Gospel message! It is
because they are hardened to it by their own choice. Ill. God
only hardened Pharaoh's heart after he had hardened his own
2. The Stony Soil - v. 5-6; 20-21 - These stony places are common
in Palestine. Often there will be an outcropping of limestone
rock covered by a thin layer of topsoil. This soil looks like it is
ready to be sown. This ground looks good and productive and
seed cast here will germinate and quickly spring up into a
promising plant. But, because there is no depth of soil, as soon
as the sun beats down on the tender plant, it withers and dies
without producing any fruit.
This kind of soil speaks of that heart that makes an emotional
response to the presentation of the Gospel. Perhaps this person
heard the Gospel and said, "That's what I need!" Or, perhaps
they come because a friend came. Whatever their motive, they
make a profession, but it is a shallow one at best. They may
even show signs of life in the Lord, but when Christianity doesn't
turn out like they thought it would, they quickly fade away and
disappear! They shrink away from the radical claims of Christ
and the cross, Matt. 16:24. These are the people who make a
profession, go like gang busters for a short time, and then wind
up right back in the world. Were they saved? No! How do we
know for sure? No fruit!
3. The Thorny Soil - v. 7; 22 - This soil looks like it is ready to be
sown also, but underneath the surface are the living roots and
seeds of thorns and weeds. When the seed falls here, it also
quickly springs to life and gives every indication that a good
harvest will follow. However, the same ground begins to
produce the thorns and weeds that were already there and they
soon choke out the tender plant. This plant withers and dies
without producing any fruit at all.
This is a picture of a heart that tries to have the benefit of the
Gospel while still clinging to the thorns of sin. Without a
conscious break from the old life of sin this person does not have
a chance of being saved. The seed of the Gospel cannot
survive to produce fruit in a heart filled with other things. The
seed must have the ground or sin must have the ground, but it
cannot be shared! Jesus said it was the cares of the world and
the quest for earthly riches that spelled disaster for this kind of
soil. This kind of person begins well, but soon fades away,
having their profession choked out by sin and the world. Were
they saved? No! How do we know for sure? No fruit!
4. The Good Soil - v. 8; 23 - Finally, some seed fell onto good
ground. This ground had been worked and prepared. It had
been plowed and tilled and it was ready to receive the seed
when it came. The seed germinated within the heart of the soil
and the plant began to grow. When the plant reached maturity,
it began to produce fruit that brought honor and gain to the
This a picture of the heart that has been plowed deeply by
the Word of God. It is a picture of a heart that has been tilled
and prepared by the grace of God. When the seed of the
Gospel hits this kind of heart, it germinates, grows up and bears
fruit to the glory of God. This heart alone pictures that kind of life
that can truly call itself saved!
C. Please notice that the only difference between these soils was fruit.
On the hard soil, the seed did not penetrate, but it disappeared,
being removed by the fowls. In the other three, the seed
disappeared within the ground. In the last three soils, a plant
resulted, but only the good soil brought forth a harvest! What kind
of soil are you this evening? Has the Gospel message found a
lodging place within your heart and life? Are you bearing fruit to the
glory of God as you should? (Note: Don't get hung up on fruit
bearing! Some of these plants brought forth more fruit than others,
but the point is, they all bore some fruit! If you are saved, your duty
is to abide in Jesus and He will produce His fruit in your life, as it
pleases Him, John 15:1-11. If you will abide in Him, you will find
that "fruit happens!"
D. While these kinds of soils are used to speak about the matter of
salvation, there is another application that we can draw from them
as well. If we are not careful, we that are saved can allow ourselves
to develop the wrong kind of heart. We can become hard hearted
toward the things of God, toward His House and toward His Word.
When this happens, we will find ourselves fruitless and defeated as
a believer! Or, we can grow shallow in our commitment to the Lord
and His work, this too can hinder our fruit production. Or, we might
allow our lives to become filled with the wrong kinds of things, thorns
of sin and worldliness that will hinder us and keep us from being
fruitful for the glory of the Lord. If you are saved tonight, what kind
of soil is your heart made of?
Conc: Can you be honest with yourself for just a few minutes? If you can,
ask yourself the following questions:
- •What kind of soil is my heart?
- •Have I become hardened to the things of God?
- •Am I shallow in my commitment to Him and His work?
- •Am I constantly distracted, burdened and defeated by sin and the cares
of the world?
- •Am I bearing the kind of fruit I should be bearing?
Everyone here tonight knows where they stand with the Lord Jesus
Christ. I am asking you to be honest with yourself and with Him about what
you need to do this evening. If you need Him in salvation, in repentance, in
rededication, in anything, this altar is open for you. You come, if He is