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Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23


Intro: Sometimes I will hear a TV or radio preacher make this startling claim, “You need to get a copy of this message! It may be the greatest single message you will ever hear! This is the one message that you cannot afford to miss! Maybe they are right. I will probably never know. But, there is one thing I know for sure. The message I am about to preach today is one message you cannot afford to miss.

The truths that are revealed by Jesus in this parable are life altering, if they are heard and heeded. They teach a truth so powerful that they cannot be ignored. I want to look into these verses for a few moments today. I want to try and deliver the One Message You Cannot Afford To Ignore. Let’s look into the Parable of the Sower today; as we do, prepare to meet yourself in these words. Let’s hear, heed and honor the message Jesus wants to teach us today.



A. The Sower’s Identity In the parable, the sower is a farmer who is broadcasting seed into his fields. According to Jesus and His interpretation of this parable in Mark 4:14; the “sower sows the word of God. The sower pictured in the parable is a reference to Jesus, and by extension, to all those who preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sowing at this very moment.

B. The Sower’s Intentions As this farmer casts the seeds into his field, he does so with the hope that some will fall on good soil. He sows because he ultimately desires to reap a harvest. He casts his seed with the expectation of much more in return. The sower has one goal: to get his seed into the ground so the harvest can come.

The same is true with the seed of the Gospel message. It is sown into the field of the world with the prayer that it will fall on good hearts, take root and grow up to produce much fruit to the glory of the Lord. There are hearts in this room that received the seed of the Gospel at one time. That seed germinated in your heart, and reproduced within your soul. Now, your life is a fruitful testimony to the power of God’s saving grace. That is the intention of the Heavenly Sower, and that is my desire as I sow today.

C. The Sower’s Investment The farmer must give something away before he can expect to receive anything in return. He takes the precious seed that he saved from the last harvest and he casts it into soil, hoping that it will produce a great harvest. The seed is all that the farmer has and he gives it away hoping to receive more in return.

This is what the Heavenly Sower did. Jesus gave His all so that there might be Gospel seed to cast into the soil of the human heart. He died on the cross and rose again, literally giving His all, knowing that some seed would fall on the good soil and that a great harvest would come back to Him. Jesus gave His all for you and for me so that we might have a Gospel to believe, Isa. 53:4-6, and that you might produce fruit for the glory of the Lord, Rom. 7:4.

The message we preach at this church is a message about a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, John 6:37; Acts 16:31; John 6:47. However, while salvation may be free, it certainly was not cheap! It cost the glory of Heaven His life on the cross. He gave all that He had to give us a soul saving, life changing Gospel to preach and believe!



(Ill. In Luke 8:11, Jesus identifies the seed as the “Word of God.” When the farmer walked into his field with his seed bag, he held in his hand a genuine treasure. He cast that treasure to the wind, hoping it would accomplish his desires.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked into this world with a treasure. He came to give men the Gospel of grace. When Jesus cast the seed of the Gospel into the shifting winds of this world, He did so with the sure knowledge that it would accomplish His purposes completely, Isa. 55:11.

Notice the treasure of the seed.)

A. It Holds Great Power Life Before the seed falls on the soil, the soil devoid of life. It lies there barren and empty. But, when the seed falls onto good soil and germinates, it always brings life to something that before was dead .

So it is with the Gospel of grace! It brings life to the dead hearts of those lost in their sins, Eph. 2:1-5. You see, when seed germinates it always transforms the soil in which it was sown. It brings forth life, and eventually fruit, in a place where only barrenness and death could be found before. We will discuss this truth more in a few moments. Still, this is what makes the Gospel such a great treasure; it produces life in a place that was formerly dead.

B. It Holds Great Promise More 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. Each seed has the potential to reproduce itself many times over. Seed always holds the promise of more.

Such is the promise in 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 bring forth much.



A. v. 4, 19 The Compacted Soil The way side 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 and animals 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. They hear the Gospel and dismiss it as foolishness, 1 Cor. 1:18. 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.

B. v. 5-6, 20-21 The Crippled Soil 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 the heart that makes an emotional response to the presentation of the Gospel. Perhaps this person heard the Gospel and said, “Well, I’ve tried everything else, maybe that is what I need! I might as well give Jesus a try Or, perhaps they came to an altar and prayed because a friend did. Perhaps they heard a shallow presentation of the Gospel that presents the benefits of salvation but does not share the costs. This person knows nothing about repentance, dying to self, and turning away from the old life. Many millions have been inoculated against the Gospel by some flimsy Gospel presentation and by a false profession of faith. Whatever happened, they made a profession, they are excited, they are active, and they are accepted as the real deal. But because they have no depth to their profession, they fall away when the persecutions and tribulations associated with knowing Jesus arise.

They begin to have problems with simple matters like church attendance, prayer and reading the Bible. They have a difficult time making a genuine, lasting break with their sins. They shrink away from the radical claims of Christ and the cross, Matt. 16:24. They become offended when they are mocked, ridiculed, laughed at or persecuted for their profession of faith. These are the people who make a profession, often running well for a time, and then wind up right back in the world. In the end, they are further away from God than they were before they made their profession.

Were they really saved? No! How do we know for sure? There is no fruit of salvation in their life! By the way, when a profession of salvation is real, it will last! We often call these types of people “backsliders or carnal Christians.” In my humble opinion, they have never been saved. If the Lord saves your soul, He will change your life. When God changes a life, He does it forever. What He does in you will last. You may fall, but you will not stay away from His house, His presence, His throne, His Word, His people and you will not be able to stay out of His will, Ill. 1 John 3:9.

C. v. 7, 22 The Crowded Soil 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 springs to life quickly 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 person who tries to have the benefit of the Gospel while still clinging to the old life 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 will have the ground or sin will 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 really saved? No! How do we know for sure? There is no fruit of salvation in their life! When Jesus comes in to a life, He makes a difference in that life, 2 Cor. 5:17. Again, we like to look at people who have made a profession and who are back out in sin and say they are “backslidden and out of God’s will or carnal. More likely, they have just never been saved to begin with! (Ill. Col. 3:1-10)

Ill. Preachers have fed a generation the lie of “easy believism and have failed to tell lost people that God demands repentance along with faith before salvation can be realized. Friend, if you have made a profession and there has been no change in your life, then you need to repent and call on Christ for salvation.

D. v. 8, 23 The Choice Soil 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 farmer.

This is 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! Why do I say that? This is the only soil that produced fruit!

The only difference between these types of soil was fruit. On the hard soil, the seed never penetrated the hard ground and was carried away. On the other three soils, the seed penetrated and disappeared, but only that which fell on the good soil produced fruit! The only obstacle to salvation is unbelief, but anyone who is willing to accept Jesus on His terms is good soil!

This soil represents the only soil among the four that pictures a saved heart. You see, when Jesus enters a life through the Gospel message, He will make His presence known beyond all doubt. He will cause the new believer to begin to bear fruit for the glory of God. In fact, He will lead the believer through a progression of fruit bearing. As the days go by, there will be more and more fruit for the glory of the Heavenly Sower, Ill. John 15:1-8.

What kind of fruit does the Gospel seed produce in the good soil of a prepared heart?

1. Sanctification - We will become more like Him - Rom. 6:22; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10.

2. Spirituality - We will behave more like Him - Gal. 5:22-23.

3. Souls - We will become burdened more like Him - Rom. 1:13.


Conc: As we have moved through this passage, we have seen one sower sow one variety of seed into four different types of soil. The seed only brought forth fruit in one of those soils. The other soils were bad and nothing of value came from the seed being planted in them.

According to Jesus, the seed is the Gospel, and the soil is your heart. If you were to be honest today, which of these four soils is your heart?

Is your heart hard and closed off to God? If it is, then this message has meant little to you. The enemy has already stolen most of it away. If you are the hard soil today, then I am praying that God will sink His plow deep into the soil of your heart, bring you under conviction of your sins and prepare you to hear His word and be saved.

Is your heart stony or thorny and is your commitment to your profession shallow? Do you have problems serving the Lord faithfully and staying away from sin? Do you place your hope of Heaven on some prayer you prayed or upon some religious activity you have been through like baptism or church membership? If so, then I challenge you to examine your heart today and to be sure that you are genuinely saved. I am not trying to make you doubt your salvation; but I want you to know that if a person is genuinely saved, they will be different for the rest of their lives. If you are not, then you need to check up, 2 Cor. 13:6; 2 Pet. 1:10.

Maybe you’ve heard this message and your heart has been stirred. You know you need to come to Jesus; you need to repent of your sins; and you know you need to be saved. If so, then you sound like a good soil heart to me. If the Gospel seed has fallen there today and Jesus is calling you, please come to Him.

Those who have heard this message may not understand it, but this is one message you cannot afford to miss. Hear it, heed it and honor it as the Lord speaks to your heart today.

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