From Flickr © madison.murphy
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”
Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Jesus comes to us because we could not enter heaven, our sins fencing us out from the entrance. And for what purpose? To destroy the ground teeming with thorns? To take vengeance upon the unfaithful stewards? No; but to till and tend it, and to sow the word of godliness. For by seed here He means His doctrine, and by land, the souls of men, and by the sower, Himself. Just as the prophet Isaiah has compared the teaching of the people to the planting of a vine (Isaiah 5); here it is compared to sowing, to show that obedience is now shorter and more easy, and will sooner yield fruit.
As a sower does not make a distinction in the ground which is beneath him, but simply puts in the seed, so also Jesus Himself addresses all without distinction of rich and poor, of wise and foolish, of slothful or diligent, of brave or cowardly. However, the greater portion of the seed is not lost through the fault of the sower, but of the earth, the soul which hears and received it. A real steward, if he sowed in this way, would be rightly blamed; for he knows that rock, or the road, or thorny ground, cannot become fertile. But not so with the soul; for there it is possible that stony ground may become fertile; and that the road should not be trodden down, and that the thorns may be destroyed, for if this could not take place, He would not have sown there. By this therefore He gives to us hope of repentance.