The Parable of the Sower: A Biblical Rosetta Stone


The Parable of the Sower provides the Key to solving all parables.  It is a both a Biblical Rosetta Stone and a Proof-Text for Typological Interpretation

(Note: This study is excerpted from another longer post: Exalting the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ: The Key of Knowledge for Unveiling the Mystery of the Bible)

Introduction

The Parable of the Sower is quite unique in a number of ways.  Discussion of it can be found in three places in the Bible….Please see: Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, and Luke 8:4-15.   What is unique about it is that we not only see Jesus speak the parable (essentially a riddle), but then we also see how He expounds on the meaning of it (Jesus solves the riddle for us).  Moreover, Jesus goes further to provide the reason why He spoke in parables, and in the process then makes it clear that He did not intend to make it possible for everyone to understand what He was saying.  Jesus clearly states that it was not His intention to save “everyone”.  Jesus also seems to have somewhat upbraided the disciples for not being able to understand the parable on their own, when in Mark 4: 13, Jesus said to his disciples, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  (We will look more into this point in the course of this study.)

In Luke 8, verses 4-8, we read that Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower, and his disciples question Jesus about the meaning of the parable. Then Jesus answered them first by saying, in verse 10, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

In Mark 4: 11-12, Jesus is quoted saying the same thing, but with some additional information highlighted here in bold, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” 

In Matthew 13:10-16, we read the same thing, but with a cross reference from Jesus back to Isaiah 6:9-10 (see also Ezekiel 12:2). And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parable? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias (Isaiah), which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

In Mark 4:10 we read that Jesus, when He had just finished telling the parable of the Sower, was asked by His disciples what the parable meant; “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.”  In Mark 4:13, Jesus gave the following response, “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

Why did Jesus imply that His disciples should have known what the parable meant?  Could they have known before Jesus explained it to them?  Also, He indicated that if they did know the meaning of this parable, then they would be able to know the meaning of all parables.  What did that mean?

When we do a word study of the parable of the Sower, using a concordance such as Strong’s or Young’s (or even better yet… a personal familiarity with the Old Testament), comparing scripture with scripture (“comparing spiritual things with spiritual things” as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 2:13); we find that if we search just the Old Testament (the only scriptures available at the time of Christ) we can derive essentially the same meaning of the parable as Jesus gave His disciples.  By applying the same principles to the rest of the Bible, trusting God’s Word, by faith, being led by the Holy Spirit, it would seem to be consistent that we ought to be able to learn the meaning of “all” parables.

However, please remember that the information in this Bible Study Help is not to be viewed as some kind of a cookbook “recipe,” by which we can automatically come to truth.  God is Sovereign, and in complete control of the revelation of saving truth from His Word, the Bible.  Intellectual knowledge will never save anyone (it could actually add to his greater condemnation).  May we never be as those God describes in II Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”   (Remember also that Jesus is The “Truth”)

Word Study, Parable of the Sower

The following explanations in this study of the various parts of the parable are provided directly to us by Jesus himself (who is the Word incarnate), but they potentially can be understood through diligent searching the Bible to see how the key words are used elsewhere and thereby derive identical meanings that Jesus interpreted for His disciples.

The Sower and His Seed: (the meaning is by interpretation: God and His Word)

Isaiah 55:10&11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.

*II Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;

The  Wayside: (The World, that which is not in “the Way”.  Remember Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life)

Psalms 140:5 The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.

*Matthew 20:30  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, [thou] son of David.

* New Testament, only shown to reinforce illustration.

Fowls of the Air:  (Forces of Satan)

I Samuel 17:44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

I Samuel 17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

Job 28:21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close (concealed) from the fowls of the air.

Devour: (Destroy or Consume)

II Chronicles 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

Isaiah 33:11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, [as] fire, shall devour you.

Jeremiah 51:34 Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.

Zephaniah 3:8  Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Stony: (Hard Hearted)

Psalms 141:6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Root: (Jesus Christ, the Root of Jesse)

II Kings 19:30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

Isaiah 11:10  And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Withered: (Dried Up, Scorched, as in the Fires of Hell)

Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, [and] set them on fire: for it [is] a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

Ezekiel 19:12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.

Joel 1:12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, [even] all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

*John 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

*John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned.

Thorns:  (Cares of This World, and the Snare of False Gospels)

Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

Judges 2:3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

Proverbs 22:5 Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

Isaiah 32:13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns [and] briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy [in] the joyous city:

Isaiah 33:12 And the people shall be [as] the burnings of lime: [as] thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.

Jeremiah 4:3  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

Ezekiel 2:6  And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns [be] with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house.

Fruit: (Good Fruit, is the Evidence of True Salvation…and that fruit should be manifest in the winning of souls for Jesus Christ, see Proverbs 11:30)

Deuteronomy 11:17 And [then] the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and [lest] ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.

Leviticus 26:4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Deuteronomy 22:9  Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

Psalms 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise.

Proverbs 12:12 The wicked desireth the net of evil [men]: but the root of the righteous yieldeth [fruit].

Isaiah 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth [shall be] excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

Isaiah 27:6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Ezekiel 17:8 It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.

Ezekiel 34:27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

*Matthew 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

*II Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;

Other verses to ponder:

Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Psalms 19:11, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward.” (please, if at all possible, read all of Psalms 19 and 119)

Psalms 37:30, “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

Ecclesiastes 8:5, “Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.”

Hebrews 12:25, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more (Judgment Day) I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 1:18, “For in much wisdom [is] much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Galatians 1:12, “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 13:1&2, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love, “agape” in the Greek), I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love, “agape” in the Greek), I am nothing.”  If we don’t have the Godly love (agape) of Jesus Christ in us (which is synonymous with true salvation), we are nothing.

POSTSCRIPT:

The following is a poetic note by another author that was found on the Internet about “Fruit” and “Winning Souls for Jesus Christ” that is also known as: Evangelism

Winning souls begins on our knees
Crying out to God to hear our pleas.
O’ Lord, we pray save those who are lost
Send us near and far whatever the cost.

Can we not pray but only one hour?
Rescuing the dying in God’s holy power?
It is appointed unto man once to die
O’ for lost souls we must cry!

Will a man be willing to lose everything
For one to repent and the angels to sing?
O’ believer, the day of their salvation is at hand
What will you say to the Lord when you stand?

We are bought with a price and we’re not our own
The orders have been given and we’re not alone.
God is with us wherever we are
To be a soul-winner must be our par.

Some say that soul-winning isn’t in their DNA
Tell that to Jesus, what will He say?
Brother and sister what about you?
Remember Jesus died for you too.

jimanthonykelley

 

 

 

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