The Parable of the Sower

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold. As he said these things, he called out, He who has ears to hear, let him hear. And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. -Luke 8:4-15

The ones on the path that won’t be plowed are, per Hendriksen, the unresponsive hearts.

These people do nothing with the message… Immediately after they have heard it, any favorable effect it might have had on them is annihilated… The Lord, addressing Ezekiel, gave this description of the prophet’s audience: “You are to them like a lovely song, sung with a beautiful voice, and played well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but refuse to practice them.” (Ezek. 33:32).

Those on the rock are the impulsive hearts.

These are the emotional people. Now it is a good thing to be emotional… However, the trouble with the people symbolized [here]… is that their emotions are superficial, not based on deep-seated convictions… [H]ow does one know whether marked emotional behavior is the evidence of genuine faith? The answer is, “It is, if it can endure testing.” … The people described in Luke 8:13 cannot. In time of trial they fall away.

Those among the weeds are the preoccupied hearts.

…Jesus warns especially against three dangers: First, the cares or worries of life… Worry not only breaks down resistance to disease and therefore shortens life, but also prevents one from concentrating on the blessings God is constantly providing… The second danger to the development of spiritual life… is riches, the craving for wealth and/or the inordinate yearning to cling to it… Thirdly, there are the pleasures of life. These, too, if a person does not watch out, may become soul-ruining entanglements. They are of two kinds: (a) those that are wrong in themselves: drunkenness, drug addiction, gambling, sexual vice, etc; (b) those that are wrong when a person over-indulges in them: games, sports, entertainment, etc. Like a… destructive parasite little by little destroying its host, so also these “thorns” slowly but surely choke the souls of those people who extend a welcome to them. Such individuals never mature. [Ouch]

And finally there are those on the fertile soil. These are the responsive hearts.

These people receive the message with an open, unprejudiced mind… Moreover, they keep clinging to it. How do they do that? Of course, by giving away this precious message, proclaiming it everywhere, and this not only be means of their words but also, and most of all, by consecrated [holy] lives. Finally, by means of their perseverance, these people produce a crop… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23), unto their own inner joy, the conversion of souls, and God’s glory.

Thus, Hendriksen concludes, “the parable is therefore really an exhortation to self examination…”

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