Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)

Then Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up… (Matthew 13:3-23).

In the first of seven parables in Matthew 13, Jesus told about a farmer who sowed seed in his field.  The emphasis in the story is on the results of the sowing, for the seed fell on four kinds of soil: “along the path” (v. 4), “on rocky places” (v. 5), “among thorns” (v. 7), and “on good soil” (v. 8).  So the farmer had four kinds of results.  Jesus compared the four results of sowing to four responses to the “kingdom” message (v. 18-23):

The first result is the seed sown along “the path.”  When someone hears the message about the kingdom, but does not understand it, the devil (“evil one”) snatches away the Word that was sown in their heart.

The next two results—seed on “rocky places that had no root,” and seed “among thorns that choke it out”—speak of hearers’ initial interest in the kingdom of God, but with no genuine heartfelt response.  The seed on “rocky soil” refers to the person who hears the gospel, but quickly falls away (“is offended”) when trouble or persecution comes because of the Word.  The seed “among thorns” refers to someone who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth “choke it out,” making the Word unfruitful in his life.

Only the seed that fell on “good soil” had an abiding result and a fruitful crop that produced “30, 60, or 100” times what had been sown.  This refers to the person who believes Jesus’ message about the kingdom (“hears and understands it”).

The farmer sowed good seed, but not all of it sprouted.  The difference in these results was not in the seed, but in the soil on which the seed fell.  As the gospel was presented, the good news is the same.  The difference was in the individuals who heard the Word.  Jesus demonstrated why the Pharisees and religious leaders rejected His message.  They were not “prepared soil” for the Word.

In fact, the majority of hearers do not respond positively to the good news; the gospel is rejected by most people.  The four types of soil represent different responses to God’s message.  People respond differently because they are in different states of readiness: some are hardened, others are shallow, others are contaminated by distracting worries, and some are receptive.

How has God’s Word taken root in our lives?  What kind of soil are we?


  1. Nice post. This is one of my favorite parables. In your opinion and from your study, which of the soils represented those who were saved? Good soil only or is the one that sprouted but became unfruitful also? I’ve heard both but based on your post, lean toward just the good soil.

    1. Thanks! This is also one of my favorite parables!

      Only the seed that fell on “good soil” represents those who are saved. These are genuine disciples. They consist of those who listen, retain the Word, and produce a crop, that is, they bear spiritual fruit, evidence of their spiritual life. Their hearts are changed by Christ.

      As Jesus’ ministry progressed, it was evident that each of these groups surfaced: (1) “seed along the path” were the Pharisees and religious leaders who refused to believe; (2) “seed on rocky places” were those who rallied around Jesus because of His miracles of healing and feeding, but refused to stay with His message (John 6:66); (3) “seed among thorns” were those, such as the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30), who were interested in Jesus but would not accept Him because of their strong pull of materialism; (4) “seed on good soil” were those who genuinely followed Jesus and were committed to His Word regardless of the cost (Matthew 8:1-3).

      What are your thoughts?

      1. I agree. Keyword for me is fruitful as it is the Holy Spirit that produces fruit. In simplistic terms, no fruit; no Holy Spirit. No Holy Spirit; no salvation.

  2. In Galatians 6: 7-9, God tells us exactly what He wants from us and what will happen if we do not obey. There are many examples throughout the Bible. Matthew, John, Mark and Luke tell me that Jesus lived as a simple man and brought the word of God to all. Some listened and some went on their way. I can see the path that I took. I can see the lessons, and the tests and the sorrow. I can put it all together as God drawing me to His Son, and His word. It was a long process, but to God it was just a second in time. When I think about conviction, i feel blessed to be among God’s saints and joyful, I was able to receive Salvation at the time that was right for me. I used whatever means I have at my disposal to pass what I have learned to others. I don’t know when the seed will grow, but I do know this is the work we are called to do. It is called Ministry. By example others see your works and your fruit. I have a desire to do so much more, but it is in God’s time, not mine for any opportunity. Some people are sent to me, and I give them the Word of God. Some people rebuke me. This is what I like to tell others that if we read the four Gospels , live our lives in sowing God’s Word, as followers of Jesus Christ, we might be able to help someone along the way. When there is an opening, I jump right in to find the right scriptures, say a prayer, send scriptures for healing and encouragement. God directs my ways, and it is to His glory, I am able to do His work. Proverbs 22:8 He who sows injustice, will reap calamity and the sod of his fury will fail.

    1. Amen! God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Each sower decides what his harvest will be. If a person sows to please his sinful nature, he will reap a harvest that will fade into oblivion. On the other hand if he sows to please the Spirit and promote his own spiritual growth, he will reap a harvest that will last forever.

      We may sometimes become discouraged with spiritual sowing because the harvest is often long in coming. In the face of this reality the apostle charged the Galatians not to become weary or give up because the harvest is sure. The reaping will come at God’s proper time, which may be only in part in this life and in full in the life to come at the judgment seat of Christ.

      Christians have a measure of responsibility to all people to do good, when the occasions arise. When Jesus fed the 5,000, both saved and unsaved participated. So our benevolence should not be restricted, except that believers are to have the priority. As in a home, family needs are met first, then those of the neighbors. Individual Christians are charged to minister to the poor as they are able and have opportunity (Rom. 12:17-21).

      A person who sows seeds of wickedness will reap a harvest of trouble. Trouble is the inevitable result of sin (Hosea 10:13; Gal. 6:7). But a generous man will reap a harvest of blessing. Willingness to share with the poor (“feeble, weak, helpless”) shows that a person is genuine; he looks at others with the desire to help them, not to take advantage of them (generosity to the poor in Deut. 15:10; Prov. 14:21, 31; 28:27).

      I wrote more about consequences here:

      Thanks Rita!

  3. Hi Joe,

    I’m from FEBC, an established international Christian organization with a mission to share the Gospel. We recently started a new blog on the Great Commission that we’re looking for guest writers to contribute to. All posts surround the theme of sharing the Gospel, with topics on missions, evangelism, church, faith, and culture.

    I read through a few of your posts and really enjoy your writing style and the thoughts you have to offer. We would love to have you contribute to our blog.

    You can visit the blog at
    You can view our main site at
    If you are interested, please let us know by filling out the form at


    1. Thank you for reaching out to me! I would be happy to contribute to your blog.

      I notice there are few articles and even fewer comments. Is your blog new? What type of audience are you attracting? This information will be helpful as I write.

      1. Joe I went to this site and then the “Guest Blog”…to see what it was. There are
        certain stipulations and a form to fill out before you can write. I assume you saw
        this as just ignore this reply. God bless!!

    1. Thank you, my brother! I am a work in progress, too. I will admit I was not always inclusive when I preached and taught the Word. God has been working on me BIG TIME. He is breaking me of my pride. Not long ago, I was listening to some sermons I had preached in the past. I kept saying “God has better plans for YOU! God wants to do mighty things in YOU! God wants to change YOU!” But I failed to mention God wants to change ME. I failed to mention He wants to do something great in US! As I was listening to the cassette tapes and CDs, and watching the videos, I realized I needed to humble myself. Theologically, everything I was saying is biblical, but I sounded high and mighty. I don’t want to put myself on a pedestal anymore. I am just a man. I am one among the rest. I am in the same boat as my brothers and sisters. All of us have problems. All of us need God’s grace. We are colaborers with Christ. To God be the glory!

      1. The word Forgiveness means many things. We forgive those who have judged us, and we forgive judging those people who hurt us. We need to forgive ourselves as well. The work God does in us includes Wisdom. This is how we see through our pride to find the road to forgiveness and change. A life time journey by God’s grace.
        God allows us to see where we have been so we may glorify Him in helping others through the journey.
        Thanks for your reply Joe.

  4. Great Article!! Love it!! Although it is discouraging that some people will not respond to the Gospel, it is worth everything for just one person to come to know Christ!

  5. Hi Joe, just checking in! God bless. Today is my grandson’s 8th birthday. Tonight we are going
    to a Hockey Game downtown Cleveland. Woot woot! May God keep our children safe from all evil and protect them in all ways.

      1. I was just asking Joe because this post was Jan 16, a month ago, and was hoping everything was okay, and just wanted him to know I was concerned. Thank you

        1. Thank you, Correna, for reaching out to me! I am taking a break from blogging. I hope to be back soon. 🙂

  6. Hi Pastor Joe, sometimes a break is needed to be refreshed again, even Jesus took time out from Ministering but was always there when needed and I’m sure you are too.

    The good soil is prepared by The Holy Spirit and will always bear good fruit because the weeds and rocks have been removed first, so when the seed is sown it bears roots that hold firm, we must put our flesh to death by the Spirit or we will be unproductive and have no roots or stability. Galatians & Romans + others.

    Christian Love from us both- Anne.

  7. Sorry Pastor Joe, it should read Galations 5 and Romans 8 I’m having Computer problems again the Keybord is deleteing and adding, perhaps it is over worked and needs a break too 🙂 if it doesen’t I do!

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

  8. Years ago I read results of a survey of people who had dropped out of church attendance, if not membership itself. The most common cause of non-attendance was that people reported being too busy. I ponder that answer to and think of a statement I heard a former Jain monk make on a National Public Radio program: We must trust that, when God created the universe, he created enough time. This gentleman, who had a busy schedule, still managed to do one thing at a time. His example reminds me of two points: (A) One must never be like the seed that fell onto the path, and (B) Profound and germane spiritual lessons come not only from inside one’s faith tradition.

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