The Parable of the Sower

By James Sanders

The Lord once asked, “Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?” (Mk 4:13). He had reference to the Parable of the Sower. In t at parable some of e most basic lessons of Christianity are to be found. And yet the Lord repeatedly warned, “Take heed therefore how ye hear!” There must have been a reason for the recurrent emphasis of the Lord. It would seem that though the lessons are simple and fundamental, they are often overlooked. How was the Parable of the Sower heard that day?

1. Wayside Hearer:

The wayside hearer was typified by that seed which fell upon the hard pathway. The fowl of the air came and snatched it away. This is the man who hears but fails to understand the word of God. He does not come with any design to get good, as the highway was never intended to be sown. He comes before God as do His people, but never regards what is said. Some wayside hearers have even been baptized and others never miss a service. But the Word of truth never really makes a lasting impression upon them. It comes in at one ear and goes out the other.

2. Stony Ground:

This is the soil which immediately sprouts forth but because of shallowness soon withers away. The stony-hearer is the man who fails to think things out and to think them through. He begins but never ends. Some people’s whole life is littered with things they start, but never finish. It may be a hobby, a new fashion or learning to play a piano. When Christianity became difficult, this man quits! He withered away because he had no roots. And yet surprisingly, he once received the Word with joy. But there are many who enjoy hearing a good sermon which do not profit by it. They may be pleased with the Word and yet not be changed and ruled by it. Demas was such a person.

3. Thorny Ground:

This is the seed which lacks fruit. It became choked by the thorns and thistles. The thorny-ground hearer is the man who is crushed by the cares and pleasures of this world. He is the hearer who has so many interests and demands in life that often the most important things get crowded out. He does not deliberately banish prayer, the Scriptures, and the church from his life. He often thinks of them and wishes that somehow he had time for them. He intends and resolves to make time for them but his crowded life never really gets around to it. The stony-ground hearer is easily recognized. He never grows spiritually; he bears no fruit.

4. Good Ground:

This is the soil that produces. The good-ground hearer is the man who hears and applies what he has learned. He produces the good fruit of the good seed.

It is distressing to think that some will not even read this brief article and others who do read it will never realize that the author was talking about them. He was trying to save their soul. Little wonder that the Lord said, “Take heed how ye hear.”


Barclay, William; DSB, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, Philadelphia: Westminister Press. 1958. Much of the expressions and thoughts in the brief article are those of the lucid Barclay. He is a masterful writer.

Henry, Matthew; Commentary On The Whole Bible, Marshallton, Del.: Sovereign Grace Pub.

Lockyer, Herbert; All The Parables Of The Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1964.

Trench, R. C.; Notes on The Parables Of Our Lord, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

March 23, 1972