I was reminded and reread the Parable of the Sower recently. This parable is located in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. This is the first of many parables that Jesus told. There is some importance to this parable as well, for understanding why Jesus use parables and understanding the meaning of this parable helps us understand the rest of the parables: “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13)
The parable goes like this:
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, 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 produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8)
Jesus later gave an explanation to the parable:
Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23)
Jesus explains that there are 4 types of hearers of the gospel:
- The ones “along the path” are those who hear the gospel, but their hearts are hardened and, for whatever reason, don’t understand nor receive it. (Luke 8:12)
- The “rocky ground” are those who hear and happily receive the gospel. They seem to follow the gospel in the beginning, but with the lack of solid foundation, they bail when they experience any hardship in their life because of the gospel. They “believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.” (Luke 8:13)
- The ones “among thorns” are those who hear the gospel, but reject it because they care/worry more about enjoying the riches and pleasures of the world than to be fruitful for God. These things “choke the word” (Mark 4:19) and “fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14)
- The “good soil” are those who hear, understand, and bear fruit. These are the ones whose hearts are ready to receive the gospel and bear the fruits of repentance and living in faith. They “hold it [the word] fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)
I believe that everyone falls into one of these categories when it comes to their responses to the gospel. Those who bear fruit are those whose hearts were ready to respond to the gospel rightly and their lives as a new creature are living proof of God’s saving power. I also believe that people can fall under these different descriptions at different moments in their life leading up to being saved by God. The seed can be sown at different moments in life and the condition of the heart can change.
In reading and reflecting in all this, I can’t help but think of those whom I know or knew. All of them have heard of the gospel and they all fall into one of these types of hearers. I wonder: If I have one chance to talk to them in person or through a letter, what would I say? We know Scripture has already given sufficient truth to them, but I wonder what I would say personally to them with an urging desire for them to become fruitful believers of Christ. Sequentially, these thoughts made me think of a song called “The Words I would Say” by Sidewalk Prophets. The song is written like a heartfelt letter from one believer thinking about another with words of encouragement and simple advice.
All this is the basis of me writing my 4-part article called “Open Letters from a Sower”. I will write an open letter to each type of hearer honestly and genuinely, not as someone with great authority, but as a regular Christian who was just as much saved by the grace that I strive to share to others. As I’m typing this, I have yet to know the contents of these letters, but I can predict the possibility of some emotion in my words, for I am writing these like my heart is going out to a close friend. My hope is that God can use what I wrote to speak to other people’s hearts and move them towards God’s truth and love and receive the joyous salvation authored by Jesus Christ.
The following are the links to each of the letters:
An Open Letter to Those”Along the Path” – coming soon
An Open Letter to Those “Rocky Ground” – coming soon
An Open Letter to Those “Among Thorns” – coming soon
An Open Letter to Those “on Good Soil” – coming soon
I hope that people who stumble upon or shared this to others would honestly examine themselves on which type of hearer they are and read these letters as if I am standing in front of them, personally pleading, advising, and exhorting them with Christ’s unconditional love radiating out of what I type.
With a prayerful heart,
An Asian Believer, Elliot