The Seed Is the Word

By Laurie Mathers

“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.” Lk 8.5-8a

I’ve always associated the Parable of the Sower with evangelism: when people hear the gospel it goes one of four ways. This made sense to me, since I heard the gospel for four decades without it ever taking root and bearing fruit in my life.

But the other day, these words popped into my head, and I suddenly realized the parable applies to much more than evangelism:

“The seed is the word of God.” (Lk. 8.11b)

This parable is for every one of us, every day. Every time God’s word is read, preached, or remembered, the sower is sowing his seed. Everyone who hears is the soil. And every time we hear, there are four ways it can go. Jesus explains it like this:

“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.” (Lk 8.11-15)

The good soil is a picture of the Christian life: receiving God’s word and holding it fast. It is not just one decision. It’s ten-thousand decisions to cling to God’s word. It is a lifetime of refusals to let the devil snatch it from us, which means a lifetime spent striving to understand it (Mt. 13.19). It means years of holding fast to his word when we are tempted to give in to sin, or to give up on God. And it means a life spent stubbornly refusing to let worries or pleasures distract us from his promises. This is the work of the honest and good heart. And it bears fruit only with patience.