The Parable of the Sower (Four Soils)


The Parable of the Sower, also known as the Parable of the Four Soils, takes place by the seaside; Jesus is on a boat, and on the coast is a multitude of people who are ready to hear his message. Jesus was on this boat because such a vast number of people were there to hear his word that he had to be on the boat to ensure that all could hear him. Jesus said to the people, in Mark 4,
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
After hearing this, some men, amongst Christ’s apostles, came to Jesus and asked him the meaning of the parable, and why he speaks in these parables. Jesus told them,
11...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: 12 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.
Why would Jesus say “...seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand?” Jesus was referencing Isaiah 6:9-10, which says,
9 And [the Lord] said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
Jesus is speaking in these parables because if he presents the gospel plainly, the people will only hear what he is saying. Jesus speaks in parables to catch the attention of his listeners: for the ones who truly want to know the truth of it will then search to understand the truth.
After saying these things, Jesus continues to explain the Parable of the Sower. His presentation is the four ways in which people will hear the gospel. Jesus explains, in verses fourteen through twenty,
14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
There is much more to scripture than simply hearing it. Jesus said that those which are sown on good ground are the ones who hear it, receive it, and bring forth fruit. It is not enough to simply hear the word, but a person must also accept it fully into themselves; they must proactively search it and understand it. Likewise, one who receives the word will bring forth fruit, or works, which further the work of the kingdom of God.
Which soil are you sown in? There is only one ground where you can flourish. I encourage you, brethren, to continually pursue Christ and his word, receive it gladly, and not let yourself fall into bad soil, in fear that you might wither away. Continually produce fruit for the Lord, and in him, you will find complete, true joy.

Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15, Isaiah 6:9-10,, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, John Wesley’s Commentary, The TSK Cross Reference Concordance