The disciples questioned Jesus about this parable. He explained it to them privately, saying "Therefore hear the parable of the sower:"
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Each soil shows how the hearts of men and women respond differently to the gospel. The sower is Christ, or one who delivers his message. The seed is the word of God.
The wayside listener hears, but doesn't understand. Luke 8:12 shows that Satan snatches the word from this listener.
Rocky ground symbolizes the eager listener who lacks the stamina to follow Christ. This listener may have failed to count the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33).
The thorny ground listener has a problem with priorities. Rather than placing God first, this person focuses on things of this world. Jesus showed how foolish this was in Mark 8:36, when He said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
Good soil symbolizes the receptive, productive listener. This listener acts on their understanding of the word.
- Matthew 13:18-23
- Mark 4:13-20
- Luke 8:11-15