Understanding the Parable of the Sower, Introduction – Part 1
(Ver 1.1) This is Part 1 in a series of very essential basic Bible lessons concerning the subject of Understanding the Parable of the Sower. This may be a very familiar subject to many Christians but this assumed familiarity could cause some to not open their heart and mind to receive from God something fresh. A spirit of pride caused by an assumed broad knowledge of a subject will too often cause some to not accept exactly what was new that God wanted to teach. However, I believe that many of the fundamental concepts found in this Bible lesson series should be a delight for most Christians to receive, learn and apply. We do appreciate your prayers and the time reading these Bible lessons. We hope they are a blessing and we pray for all our readers. We will begin the subject study with this outstanding claim by the LORD Jesus:
Mar 4:13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
We will be diving deep into some of the fundamental principles that were taught by the LORD Jesus from this parable. Many of these are deep spiritual truths that are not easily found even though they were given to us in a simple natural parable form. According to Mark 4:13, Jesus claimed that to know and understand this parable was the most important parable there is. It is significantly stated by Jesus in this verse that if we do not know and understand this parable then grasping even the basics of any other parable would probably be futile. This is why I believe the LORD wanted us to study this subject today. Today will be the first basic lesson and subject introduction in the series. Then we will break down the spiritual elements in more depth in subsequent lessons. Let’s get started.
From an in-depth study of this subject it has become evident that the Parable of the Sower is a direct lesson on how and why some humans obtain “faith” for “eternal salvation” and why many others fail to receive. I have concluded that there are two disparate types of people being described in this parable. There were those at the end of the parable that obtained “faith for salvation” and produced spiritual fruit and then there were those at the beginning and middle of the parable that either never had faith to be saved or abandoned their faith to produce no lasting spiritual fruit. Those that produced lasting “fruit” live and those that do not produce lasting “fruit” eventually die and go to hell. The entire process of faith, salvation, human choices and how each work together to produce fruit is God’s design of the seed sowing process. It is also revealed that this process of seed sowing has revealed enemies that assisted in the process to cause wrong human choice for a crop failure. These truths are all summarized in this parable.
Bible faith is one of the central and primary themes of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I believe that it is essential that we all learn and understand as much as we can about what has been revealed to us by God on this vital subject of Bible Faith. We know from reading Hebrews 11: 6 that if we do not have any faith it is absolutely impossible to please God. We also learn from reading Ephesians 2:8 that we are only saved by God’s grace through our faith. Based upon just these two verses alone, God makes it sound like that if we do not have faith we are in serious trouble. This to me is why we need to study the subject of “Bible Faith”. I am mentioning this first to inform all readers that understanding Bible Faith is one key to understanding this Parable. If you have not read the series on this website about this subject I would strongly recommend that you do so by clicking “Understanding Bible Faith Part 1”.
I believe that every human has the God given right to choose to participate in the “God kind of faith” (Mk 11:22) fully, partially or regrettably to choose not to partake whatsoever. Humans even have the God given right to choose to initially participate and then to turn back to choose to walk away from God’s plan for their life. I can hear people say, “faith is not that important and is only mentioned a very few times in the Bible”. If we do a search on the English word “faith”, it occurs only twice in the KJV Old Testament with it then being found in 229 verses in the KJV New Testament. Clearly the emphasis of faith was increased significantly by the LORD to His people in the New Covenant. There are 788,258 words found in the KJV Bible and I will admit that there are so many other words and subjects in the Bible mentioned more frequently than faith. “LORD” is mentioned 7365, “God” is mentioned 4293, Israel 2509, and we could go on and on with many other words. I found these numbers off of a website and I did not attempt to verify them so please don’t use them as the Gospel. I was only attempting to make a point that many other words and subjects have a greater mention besides faith. But, yet I still believe that this subject and topic of “Faith” is one of the top 3 themes that every Christian must learn after being saved.
I can still hear people say “I just can’t find faith in very many chapters of my Bible”. What I have learned from years of Bible study is that we must search for whatever we want to find (Mat 7:7). If we are not looking for faith we will never find faith. But, I believe that if we learn to change our focus on the known features, characteristics and values of faith then we will be able to find faith almost everywhere. What I am trying to say is that just because a verse, passage, chapter or book does not contain the actual word “faith’ does not mean the subject is not found there. Too many Christians are reading the Bible with wrong thought perspectives and would truly be amazed what is found in the Bible by learning to view the words on the page more like God designed them to be “as spiritual truth”. This is literally a very true Bible study methodology for any subject.
I desire in this introduction just to help us shift our focus. Just because the “Parable of the Sower” never mentions the word “Faith” does not mean that it is not directly all about the subject. I desire to teach the concepts of how a familiar set of verses that are often used to teach other subjects can contain a vast amount of truth on the subject of “faith” if we are willing to rethink to change our perspectives. In this series, I plan to visit many verses that do not mention faith directly in both the Old and New Testaments in order to show how God can use them to actually teach us key hidden “faith” principles. We will also explore related verses in other parts of the Bible that greatly assist us in understanding concepts not directly mentioned in the Parable.
We will be using this information to focus on how to understand the “Parable of the Sower”. In this lesson series we will hopefully learn to search and find relationships in this parable to the subject of faith, salvation, right and wrong words, right and wrong human choices and the spiritual battle of good versus evil for all human lives. I trust God to help me do this and to help you to also open your heart and mind to receive it and then for you to become an Acts 17:11 noble Berean and go and verify what was taught in your personal Bible study time. Please, please, please, do not take my word for anything if you do not see it in your own Bible.
INTRODUCTION TO GOD’S PROCESS OF SALVATION AND FAITH
IN THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
As I have previously mentioned, I would like for us to rethink the Parable of the Sower in the light of it being one of God’s revealed processes and projects to activate faith in humans for their eternal spiritual salvation. It has become very clear to me through Bible study that Jesus’ taught us a great spiritual representation of how human salvation by His extraordinary Grace through our humble cooperative faith works using a natural seed planting and farming truth many call the “Parable of the Sower”. Every parable ever taught by Jesus in the Bible was a natural truth that helps us to understand a far superior spiritual unseen and unknown truth. I have grown into the belief that this greater spiritual truth taught by Jesus in this parable is concerning primarily God’s extended grace and mercy for human salvation through their freewill choice to believe in His Word.
I further believe that this parable represents a description of how people are either saved or lost through a spiritual war of words (good vs. evil) that will take place in the human mind and heart. I also believe that this hidden unseen spiritual warfare helps to influence the decisions that a person makes concerning their salvation depending upon which spirit they choose to yield to. A person’s focused choices of importance, priority, value and worth towards God’s spoken Word will determine their eternal destiny after this natural life ends. Does this sound interesting to study? I hope and pray it does.
It amazes me that Jesus taught all of these hidden spiritual truths being described in a natural farming concept and process. The natural and the spiritual processes represent two parallel realities of truths. Growing natural food and growing spiritual faith for salvation (aka fruit) were taught to us by Jesus to represent a common paradigm. This to me is so amazing. The truth has been hiding in plain sight for the entire duration of human history on this earth. This truly displays the Omniscience and Wisdom of God.
Even though Jesus was speaking and teaching in natural terms created from the beginning, He was really not teaching us about natural farming. As I just stated humans have known this natural process of farming for literally many thousands of years. Through these basic principles of life found in simple to understand naturally created methods of farming, we can now begin to understand how spiritual life occurs or in many cases does not occur. Let’s now read the “Parable of the Sower” to refresh our memory. But also, please read the Parable with a notepad and a pencil or pen so that you can list the main items that you find as important and those that may jump out at you as you read.
Mar 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
Mar 4:4 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.
Mar 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
Mar 4:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mar 4:8 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.
Mar 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus used such a very simplistic natural farming design and process to explain to us the incredibly vital interrelated subjects of God’s Word, the devil, words, faith, salvation, listening, hearing, understanding, salvation enemies and making right choices to name only a few basic concepts that I have observed. These are just a few of the most critical and highest spiritual truths that I have found so far in the Parable. I know you may not see all of these by just skimming the parable in a rapid surface reading. In fact I believe it is practically impossible to know what the parable is really about by only reading the parable. I view the parable as a type of riddle or puzzle being presented for curious humans to dig into to solve.
I believe that there are far too many Christians that have not given this living natural example the priority and emphasis that it deserves. I believe that it is essential for every Christian to learn this parable as soon as possible after being born again in order to help them to begin to mature and grow spiritually. Reading the parable you should have noticed some of the main components being mentioned as I asked you to do. I found at least 10 symbolic references that I want us to focus upon. I’ll list them for your consideration and you can compare my list with your list:
- A Sower
- 4-6 Types of Soil (Depending upon viewpoint)
- 3 different Soils that produce no fruit or no enduring fruit
- 1-3 Soils with increasing levels of fruit production (30%, 60%, or 100%)
- Enemy Birds
- Enemy Stones
- Enemy Sun Heat
- Enemy Thorns or Weeds
Wow, this list is so vital to understand in-depth. However, I will be unable to give a complete study of every symbol in this first lesson. But, we will try to explore these items in increasing depth later in the series. Today we will only try to introduce the important spiritual symbols given by Jesus. Before we get into this discussion please review the explanation of the parable from Jesus. Use your notepad and your pencil to find what Jesus said the key elements represent and then list what each of them symbolically represented next to their corresponding symbol:
Mar 4:10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
Mar 4:11 And he said unto them, 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:
Mar 4:12 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.
Mar 4:13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
Mar 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
Mar 4:15 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.
Mar 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
Mar 4:17 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.
Mar 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
Mar 4:19 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.
Mar 4:20 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.
This explanation from Jesus of the Parable is also absolutely awesome. We should obviously understand that Jesus knew and understood what every symbol represented and how all the positive elements worked together to cause the plan of God to succeed and how all the negative elements worked to cause the plan of God to fail. I hope that you can agree that it should be obvious to us that some symbolic elements worked favorably together to produce a good fruit crop while other symbolic elements fought against the planned process for a positive outcome in order to keep the fruit seed and fruit crop from succeeding. This is the introduction to the spiritual battle that is taking place in the unseen spiritual realm. It is a spiritual war for human lives. I pray that you are paying close attention to what was just said, because this is very important in the rest of this revealed truth.
In verse 11 Jesus revealed to us that these combined natural elements fashioned into a symbolic parable form represented a divine mystery. The Greek word translated as “mystery” is G3466 and it literally means “to shut the mouth in order to keep a secret”. All God had to do was not speak to humans and we all would be very ignorant concerning any truth of spiritual realities. But, God was now beginning to open His mouth through Jesus to explain these many hidden secrets. At the time when Jesus was physically on the earth He was the only one speaking to a limited few humans at that time. But, since these words were written in a book form we today can also benefit by studying and applying them.
We must also notice what else Jesus said in verse 11. He told His disciples that at that time He did not desire to give everyone the secret’s explanation that He had spoken the parable to. He said “Unto you it is given but unto them that are on the outside I speak only in parables”. That is still a basic principle that is true today. Just because most everyone can find a Bible and can read the Bible does not mean that any of it is understandable to them. We confirm this principle from reading 1 Corinthians 2:14 that informed us those spiritual things of God are not received by a natural man because they are spiritually discerned. Spiritually asleep people (Eph 5:14) are usually unable to feed on deep spiritual things of the Spirit. Here now is my list of some of the major points that I found listed and what I believe that they are revealed to represent:
|1. Sower||A Spiritual Bible Preacher or Teacher (Specifically Jesus in this parable when it was spoken the first time, it later became any real Bible teacher)|
|2. Seed||Seed=Symbolic Spiritual Spoken Words from God|
|3. Soil||Heart (aka the spirit) of a human, God’s Spiritual Garden|
|4. Enemy Birds||Spiritual opponent called Satan, devils & demons that Blind Human Minds using words in the form of thoughts|
|5. Enemy Stones||The wrong hard hearted choice to not do the Word that was heard (Sown into their heart)|
|6. Enemy Sun Heat||Tormenting Words of Persecution sent because the Word of God was Believed. Persecution pressures many to make the wrong choices to returning to a life of sin|
|7. Enemy Thorns||Satanic Worldly Distractions &Temptations of the flesh and mind|
|8. Fruit||God’s goal for His Seed sown (a spiritual harvest – representing the fruits of the spirit and human salvation)|
I regret that I am unable to go into a great level of detail for every Parable Element in this list today. I will attempt to cover every element found here in this list later in subsequent lessons in the series. I would also recommend that you go and read the explanations of the Parable in the books of Matthew and Luke because these contain additional information that the book of Mark does not include. I will be referring to some of these other writer’s explanations in this series but I will not be giving the entire verses in this lesson in order to decrease the length.
In my list I have focused on what I considered to be 3 dependably positive elements, 4 consistently negative elements and one element that I will list into a variable, changeable or unstable category. The 3 positive elements listed in the parable were the sower, the seed and a good fruitful outcome that was produced from the combined sower and seed elements. The success of these 3 consistently positive elements (seed, sower and fruit) represents a successful “faith” process and project taking place in a human heart (soil). The 4 potential consistently negative elements were described as enemies to the positive elements and these were called 1) birds, 2) stones, 3) heat and 4) thorns. The single element that I considered to be the lone variable or a changeable element is the soil (heart of man). The soil is clearly the most frequently mentioned item of the parable being spoken of at least 4 times. I believe that this makes the soil one of God’s major focused items in the entire description. I will also say that the consistently positive and negative elements are all spiritual. The soil changeable element can either be carnal or spiritual dependent upon right or wrong choices made from thoughts selected.
I’m going to end this lesson with this introduction to the subject. I pray that this has at least raised your interest into learning more. In the next lesson in the series we will move into a greater detailed description of each element named beginning with the “Seed” symbolic element first. Thank you for reading and studying the Bible with us. We are humbled to know that there are people that spend their valuable time on this website. May God continue to lead you, guide you, direct you and bless you.
If you would like to continue to the next lesson in the series please click “Part2“.