vv.1-2 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. (2) And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Pastor Chuck Smith said that years ago when he was in Bible College, a professor told the entire class that they should not seek to teach on the parables of Matthew 13 until they had been in the ministry for at least 20 years. The reason people make the mistake of interpreting the parables wrong is that they do use what is called Expositional Constancy. For example, when you use something as a figure or type of something else, when that figure or type is used again, it is always the same.
Webster’s Dictionary says of a type or figure, “a “Type” is a number of things or persons that share a particular characteristic, or set of characteristics that cause them to be regarded as a group. It could also be defined as something in the future, as an Old Testament event serving a prefiguration of a New Testament event, i.e., if the seed represents the Word of God in one parable, it represents the Word of God in all of the parables. That’s called Expositional Constancy.
The Parable of the Sower
vv.3-9 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; (4) And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: (5) Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: (6) And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. (7) And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: (8) But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. (9) Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
vv.18-23 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. (19) When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (20) But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; (21) Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (22) He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (23) But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
By definition, a Parable is a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Our Lord began to teach in parables after the religious leaders continuously tried to trap him and were obviously rejecting him and his message. (13:10-17)
To illustrate this problem, Our Lord told “The Parable of the Sower.” The parable illustrates how different people responded to His message. It is also one of the few parables that the Lord actually interpreted Himself.
The Sower is the Son of Man (Matt. 13:37).
The Seed is the “word of the kingdom (Matt. 13:19a).
The Fowls represent the Devil (Luke 8:12). He snatches away the Word from those whose hearts are hardened as we discussed in the previous chapter. As such, they are “blinded” by the Devil to the Gospel of the Kingdom. Paul said that the same thing happens today in 2 Cor. 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, (4) whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. However, while the Devil does contribute to the blindness, ultimately it is caused by hard hearts of our own making. No one will be able to blame God in the day of judgment.
The First Soil: the Wayside (v.4)
This soil represents the one who "hears, but does not understand” (Matt. 13:19). These have hardened their hearts prior to hearing the Word (Matt. 13:15). Again, the fowls in v.4 represent the “wicked one” (v.19) who is the Devil. Luke says it this way in Luke 8:12, “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” Again, the Devil is able to do this because of the hardness of their hearts which has led to spiritual blindness. Paul said in 2 Cor. 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,…” However, even though the Devil contributes to the blindness, he is ultimately not the cause of it!