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Lesson 1


Mt 13:3-9, 18-23,  Mk 4:2-9, 13-20,  Lk 8:4-8, 11-15


I. Background of the Parable


                1.  Context

1.   Many are following and being healed by Jesus, which leads to their amazement, Mt 12:15, 22.

2.   In contrast, the Pharisees are constantly watching Jesus in order to discredit or trap him, Mt 12:2, 14, 24, 38.

3.   Jesus is ready to teach about the kingdom, primarily in parables, Mt 13:3, 11, 18, 24…


                2.  Definitions/Cultural Insights

1.   Sower: One who scatters seed.

2.   Wayside: Roadway of hard packed dirt or stones.

3.   Rocky soil: Shallow soil over rock.

4.   Seed: That which gives life, probably a grain of wheat in this story.

5.   Fruit: The product of a plant that is useful and that has the ability to reproduce.

6.   Heart: The inner man, that part of a person that thinks and plans and feels emotion.


II. Understanding the Parable

1.  The sower scatters seed in the field, in expectation of a fruitful harvest.  The seed represents the word of the kingdom, the gospel. The field is the hearts of people, Mt 13:3, 19. 

2.  Some seeds fall on the road, where there is no soil to cover them, and the birds eat them. This represents those who hear the word without understanding.  There is never any life because Satan snatches away the word, Mt 13:4, 19.

3.  Some seeds fall on shallow soil over rocks, and the plants grow quickly at first, because the shallow soil is warm.  But soon they are scorched by the heat of the sun, because the roots cannot go down through the stone for water.  This represents those who receive the word with great joy, and begin their new life quickly, but are not able to stand the trials of life.  There is no depth of trust in Jesus, the water of life, Mt 13:5-6, 20-21. 

4.  Some seed fell in thorny ground, ground that had not been cleared of thorns, and the thorns quickly crowded out the good plants, taking the needed sunlight and water.  This represents those who fail to put Jesus first in their lives.  They are choked by the things of this world.  Riches become more important to them than Jesus.  Therefore they fail to     produce any fruit.  They are worthless, Mt 13:7, 22.

5.  Other seed fell on good ground that was well prepared, and yielded a fruitful harvest. This represents Christians who trust in Jesus because of their right understanding of the gospel, who produce things of eternal value by their lives, Mt 13:8, 23.

6.  All the plants that lived were part of the kingdom of God because they had life in Jesus through the gospel seed.  Those who died and those who produced no fruit will be cast                       out of the kingdom.  See Jn 15:1-5.


III. Consideration and Application of the Parable

1. Secure or Vulnerable… hear AND understand

People must hear and understand the message of the kingdom in order to have spiritual life.  Jesus emphasized that if we don’t understand as well as hear, we open ourselves to Satan’s attack and theft of the good news.  What causes people to not understand the gospel?  What attitudes cause one to reject the message of God, Acts 28:25-28? 

2. Rooted in Jesus…

Those who receive the word into their hearts and come to Jesus must become rooted in Jesus to survive tests and bear fruit.  How can we be rooted in Jesus?  How can we help others to become rooted in Jesus?  How can we help others stand the tests of their faith, Rom 5:1-11?

3. Selfish Living… it’s deadly

Those who do not repent of selfish living will be choked by the cares of this world.  What are the thorns, the things of this world that choke out our spiritual life? (The lust of the flesh, of the eye, & the pride of life.)  Name some things that are a problem for you personally, 1 Jn 2:15-17. 

4. Fruitfulness… flows from good and honest hearts

People who want to be fruitful in their lives must put their trust in Jesus, and never give up.  If we follow Jesus faithfully, we will produce useful spiritual fruit in our lives, and we will lead others to Jesus so that God’s family multiplies.  How many people have you led to Jesus?  We must desire to bear much fruit to the glory of God, Jn 15:1-8.

5. Church Work… sowing the seed

Sowing the seed of the kingdom is the work of the church, Eph 3:8-21.  As we sow, preaching the gospel, we do not need to know where every seed will fall, but let them fall where they will.  The word will bring forth fruit according to the condition of the heart of those who hear.  We must trust God for the increase, 1 Cor 3:6-9.

        6. Every Person… needs to hear

Although some people will not receive the gospel into their hearts, we do not know who they are.  We should preach the gospel to every person, Mk 16:15-16.


IV. Memory Verse - Mt 13:23

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