The parable of the sower

And [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:3-9 See also Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Is it about the sower? the seed? the soil? How do you hear it? Consider these questions about the parable and Jesus’ interpretation of his parable.

  • Tell me more about the sower. Who is the sower? Is it only Jesus? Is it we who follow Jesus? Is it only the baptized? Can anyone sow “the word of the kingdom”? (v. 19)
  • Do you recognize these areas (path, rocky ground, thorn infested ground, good soil) in the world around you? In the people around you?
  • Do you recognize these areas in yourself? Is it possible that in ourselves, in our “field,” we will find these areas? Will we find a path, rocky ground, thorn infested patches, good soil? All 4, just 1, a combination?
  • Are we to understand that we are to sow the seed (word of the kingdom) as wildly and extravagantly as “the sower”?
  • Is it possible for soil to change? How? With what help? Over how long a time? How would you apply this knowledge to you? To the people around you?
  • Do you know anything about composting? Can the thorns be composted? Will this compost enrich the already “good soil”? Will clearing the thorns help that soil recover in order to receive seed (as good soil) the next time around? Will there be a “next time around”?

These are a few of the questions that occur to me as I hear the parable. I encourage to leave a comment. Let’s continue the conversation begun in the Forum on Sunday.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

3 thoughts on “The parable of the sower”

  1. What always stands out to me in this parable are the seeds that shoot up in the rocky soil and are killed by the sun because they don’t have roots. I saw this happen a lot growing up–people would have dramatic conversions and would be wildly zealous about their new faith. But if no one mentored them, they quickly disappeared when their lives got busier and more stressful. It’s not the fault of the seeds (the new Christians). It’s the fault of the ground where they fell (the church). I’m certainly not saying that all churches are “rocky,” but I am saying that, as Christians, we are responsible for helping each other to grow–especially those of us who are new to the faith.

  2. You find in this parable yet another possibility. In the Sunday discussion some have “always” heard this parable from the perspective of the sower: we (the ones who hear) are to be like the sower and share the word of God (seed) extravagantly. Some have “always” heard this parable from the perspective of the soil: we (the ones who hear) are to be like the good soil in which the word of God grows to maturity and bears fruit; likewise we are to avoid (somehow) being or becoming the other types of soil. You have moved the image from an individual to a community: the soil is the church. I especially like your comment: “we are responsible for helping each other to grow—especially those of us who are new to the faith. What I love about the parables is that you can “play” with them and learn something new every time. Thank you for your thought provoking comment.

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