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Parable of the Sower.

-. THE FIRST GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES.
(Beside the Sea of Galilee.)Subdivision B.
PARABLE OF THE SOWER.


a MATT. 13:3-23; b MARK 4:3-25; c LUKE 8:5-18.

      a Behold,

  c 5 The sower went forth to sow his seed [Orientals live in cities and towns. Isolated farmhouses are practically unknown. A farmer may therefore live several miles from his field, in which case he literally "goes forth" to it]:

  b 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed {a seeds} fell by the way side, c and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of heaven a came and c devoured it up. {a them:} [Palestine is an unfenced land, and the roads or paths lead through the fields. They are usually trodden hard by centuries of use. Grain falling on them could not take root. Its fate was either to be crushed by some foot, or to be carried off by some bird.]

  b 5 And other {a others} fell upon the rocky places, c on the rock; b where it {a they} b had not much earth; and straightway it {a they} b sprang up, because it {a they} b had no deepness of earth:

  6 and when the sun was risen, it was {a they were} b scorched; and because it {a they} b had no root, it {a they} withered away. c and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. [This seed fell upon a ledge of rock covered with a very thin coating of soil. Its roots were prevented by the rock from striking down to the moisture, and so under the blazing Syrian sun it died ere it had well begun to live.]

b 7 And other {a others} b fell among {a upon c amidst} b the thorns, and the thorns grew up, c with it, choked it, {a them:} b and it yielded no fruit. [Palestine abounds in thorns. Celsius describes sixteen varieties of thorny plants. Porter tells us that in the Plain of Gennesaret thistles grow so tall and rank that a horse can not push through them.]

8 And others {c other} b fell into {a upon} b the good ground, c and grew, and brought forth a hundredfold, b and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. {a some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.} [Thirty-fold is a good crop in Palestine, but it is asserted that a hundred-fold has been reaped in the Plain of Esdraelon even in recent years. These four several conditions of soil may be readily found lying close to each other in the Plain of Gennesaret. A sowing like this described may have been enacted before the eyes of the people even while Jesus was speaking.] c As he said these things, he cried [a method of emphasis rarely employed by Jesus],

  b 9 And he said,

  a 9 He that {b Who} hath ears to hear, let him hear. [A saying often used by Jesus. He intended it to prevent the people from regarding the parable as merely a beautiful description. It warned them of a meaning beneath the surface, and incited them to seek for it.]

  10 And when he was alone [that is, after he had finished speaking all the parables. The explanation of the parable is put next to the parable to aid us in understanding it],

a the disciples came, b they that were about him with the twelve

  c 9 and his disciples b asked him of the parables. c what this parable might be. a and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [Their questions show that as yet parables were unusual.]

  11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you is given to know the mysteries {b is given the mystery} a of the kingdom of heaven, {b of God:} a but to them c the rest a it is not given. [save] c in parables; b unto them that are without, all things are done in parables. [Jesus adapted his lessons to the condition of his pupils; hence his disciples might know what the multitude must not yet know ( 1 Corinthians 2:6-11 ). Jesus already drew a line of demarcation between disciples and unbelievers; which line became more marked and visible after the church was organized at Pentecost. The word "mystery" in current language means that which is not understood; but as used in the Scriptures it means that which is not understood because it has not been revealed, but which is plain as soon as revealed. Bible mysteries are not unraveled by science, but are unfolded by revelation-- Colossians 1:26 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; Matthew 11:25 Matthew 11:26 ; Revelation 17:5 ; Daniel 2:47 .]

  a 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. [To understand this saying, we must remember that it was the teaching of Jesus which was under discussion. In the beginning of his ministry Jesus taught plainly, and all his hearers had equal opportunity to know his doctrine and believe in him. But from now on his teaching would be largely veiled in parables. These parables would enrich their knowledge and understanding of the believers; but they would add nothing to the store of unbelievers, and their efforts to understand the parables would withdraw their minds from the truths which they had already learned, so that they would either forget them or fail to profit by them. If we improve our opportunities, they bring us to other and higher ones; but if we neglect them, even the initial opportunities are taken away.]

  13 Therefore speak I to them in parables:

  b 12 that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; {c that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.} a because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. b lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them.

  a 14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah [ Isaiah 6:9 Isaiah 6:10 ], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive:

  15 For this people's heart And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, and I should heal them. [The language here is an elaboration of the thoughts contained in the twelfth verse. The people saw Christ's miracles, but not in their true light; they heard his words, but not in their true meaning. Jesus could thus teach without hindrance, but, unfortunately for the unbelieving, they were hearing without obtaining any blessing. In the original passage which Matthew quotes, Isaiah is apparently commanded to harden the hearts of the people. If read superficially, it might seem that God desired to harden their hearts. The true meaning is that God commanded Isaiah to teach, even though the people, by hardening themselves against his teaching, should be made worse rather than better by it. Thus, though rebellious, Israel might not be blessed by Isaiah's teaching; they might, by their example, waken a wholesome fear in their posterity, and cause it to avoid like a sin.]

  16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. [Jesus here addresses his disciples, who were a cheering contrast to the unbelievers.]

  17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not. [Our Lord here gives us a glance into the very hearts of the prophets, and reveals to us their desire to be witnesses of Messiah's ministry. But knowing they were not to see their visions realized, they contented themselves with trying to understand the full meaning of their visions, that they might anticipate the days which were to come-- 1 Peter 1:10-12 .]

  b 13 And he saith unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how shall ye know all the parables? [This is a concession rather than a reproof. Parables could not be understood without a key; but a few examples of parables explained would furnish such a key.]

  a 18 Hear then ye the parable of the sower.

God.

  b 14 The sower soweth the word.

  15 And these {c those} b by the way side, where the word is sown; a are they that have heard; b and when they have heard,; c then b straightway cometh Satan, c the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, b which hath been sown in them. c that they may not believe and be saved.

  a 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the way side. [The four soils are four hearts into which truth is sown. The first heart, represented by the wayside, is one which is too hardened for the Word to make any impression. It represents several classes of people, as: 1. Those whose hearts have been made insensible by the routine of meaningless rites and lifeless formalities. 2. Those who had deadened their sensibilities by perversity and indifference. 3. Those whose hearts were hardened by the constant march and countermarch of evil thoughts. God's word lies on the surface of such hearts, and Satan can use any insignificant or innocent passing thoughts as a bird to carry out of their minds anything which they may have heard. The preacher's voice has scarcely died away until some idle criticism of him or some careless bit of gossip about a neighbor causes them to forget the sermon.]

  b 16 And these {c those} b in like manner are they that are sown upon the rocky places, {c rock} b who, when they have heard the word, straightway receive it {c the word} with joy;

  b 17 and they {c these} b have no root in themselves, but endure {c who believe} for a while; b then, when affliction or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway they stumble. c and in time of temptation fall away.

  a 20 And he that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it;

  21 yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; of the word, straightway he stumbleth. [This shallow, rock-covered soil represents those who are deficient in tenacity of purpose. Those who receive the word, but whose impulsive, shallow nature does not retain it, and whose enthusiasm was as short-lived as it was vigorous. Any opposition, slight or severe, makes them partial or total apostates. As sunlight strengthens the healthy plant, but withers the sickly, ill-rooted one, so tribulation establishes real faith, but destroys its counterfeit.]

  b 18 And others are they that are sown {c which fell} among the thorns, these are they that have heard, b the word, c and as they go on their way

b the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. c they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

  a 22 And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choked the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [This third class represents those who begin well, but afterwards permit worldly cares to gain the mastery. These to-day outnumber all other classes, and perhaps they have always been so.]

b 20 And those are they that were sown upon {c 15 And that in} the good ground; these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard {b hear} c the word, hold it fast, b and accept it, and bear c and bring forth fruit with patience. b thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.

  a 23 And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Christianity requires three things: a sower, good seed or a pure gospel, and an honest hearer. All hearers are not equal in faithfulness. But we are not to take it that the diversity is limited to the three rates or proportions specified. Of the four hearts indicated, the first one hears, but heeds nothing; the second one external influences; the third heeds, but is choked by internal influences; the fourth heeds and holds fast until the harvest. Gallio exemplifies the first ( Acts 18:17 ). Peter and Mark for a time exemplified the second ( Mark 14:66-72 ; Acts 12:25 ; 13:13 ; 15:37-39 ). The rich ruler and Demas represent the third ( Matthew 19:22 ; 2 Timothy 4:10 ), as does also Judas Iscariot. Cornelius and the Beræans ( Acts 10:33 ; 17:11 ) show us examples of the fourth.]

b 21 And he said unto them, Is the lamp brought to be put under the bushel, or under a bed, and not to be put on the stand?

  c 16 No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they which enter in may see the light. [A passage similar to this is found at Matthew 5:15 .tfg.cgi?section=T#">Section

  b 22 For there is nothing hid, save that it should be manifested; {c that shall not be made manifest;} b neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. {c that shall not be known and come to light.}

  b 23 If any man hath ears to hear, let him hear. [This passage is often taken to indicate the exposure of all things on the day of judgment. While all things shall be revealed at the judgment, this passage does not refer to that fact. Jesus did not come to put his light under a bushel; that is, to hide his teaching. All inner instruction and private information was but temporary. Our Lord's design was to reveal, not conceal. What was now concealed was only to keep back that in the end it might be more fully known. Jesus covered his light as one might shelter a candle with his hand until the flame has fully caught hold of the wick.]

  24 And he said unto them, c Take heed therefore how {b what} ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you; and more shall be given unto you. c for whosoever

{b he that} hath, to him shall be given: c and whosoever {b he that} hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. {c which he thinketh he hath.} [Most of this passage has been explained just above. See page 331. It warns us as to what we hear--things carnal or spiritual--and how we hear them, whether carefully or carelessly. As we measure attention unto the Lord, he measures back knowledge to us.]