Focus: In the parable of the sower, the Lord as the sower sows the word of the kingdom as the seed, but in order to produce fruit He needs our cooperation to make our hearts the good earth.
I. Read the parable in Matthew 13:3-9. As you read, consider what is the meaning behind the sower, the seed, the wayside, the rocky places, the thorns, and the good earth.
II. Now read the Lord’s own explanation of the parable in vv. 18-23.
A. First, who is the real sower? Hint: See Matthew 13:36-43.
B. What does the seed signify? Try to find the exact phrase that Jesus uses as your answer.
C. What does soil signify in this parable? Hint: See verse 19.
III. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, For from it are the issues of life.” How does this verse connect with the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13?
IV. Read 1 Peter 1:23, Colossians 3:16a, and Ephesians 3:17a. How do these portions relate to one another and to Matthew 13?
V. What do you think it means for the seed sown into the good earth to bear fruit?
1. The wayside is a high-traffic area with soil too hard to be penetrated by scattered seed.
- Read Ezekiel 36:26. What should the condition of our heart be according to this verse?
- What kinds of “traffic” can cause our hearts to become hardened to the word?
- How can we practically limit this “traffic” to keep our heart soft toward the Lord?
2. The rocky places can’t support substantial root growth because their soil is filled with hidden rocks beneath the surface.
- What do you think is the meaning of “depth of earth” in Matthew 13:5 and “have root in himself” in verse 21? See also Jeremiah 17:7-8. Do you feel you have sufficient depth in your Christian life?
- What are some hidden “rocks” that stop the word from taking root?
- Read Jeremiah 23:29. How can we allow the word as a hammer to deal with the hidden rocks in our heart?
3. The thorns signify the anxiety of the age and the deceitfulness of riches.
- Is it possible to avoid anxieties in this life? If not, then what should we do?
- See Philippians 4:6-7. When we encounter the choking anxieties of life, we shouldn’t be passive; rather, how can we deal with the thorns to clear up our heart for the Lord’s word?
- Do you have any particular anxieties in your life that you are comfortable sharing with your group? Take some time to pray for one another.
Matthew 13:3-9 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the way, and the birds came and devoured them. 5And others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much earth, and immediately they sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered. 7And others fell on the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. 8But others fell on the good earth and yielded fruit, one a hundredfold, and one sixtyfold, and one thirtyfold. 9He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 13:18-23 You therefore hear the parable of the one who sowed. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is the one sown beside the way. 20And the one sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he does not have root in himself but lasts only for a time, and when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately he is stumbled. 22And the one sown in the thorns, this is he who hears the word, and the anxiety of the age and the deceitfulness of riches utterly choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23But the one sown on the good earth, this is he who hears the word and understands, who by all means bears fruit and produces, one a hundredfold, and one sixtyfold, and one thirtyfold.
1 Peter 1:23 Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.
Colossians 3:16a Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…
Ephesians 3:17a That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith…
Ezekiel 36:26 I will also give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man who trusts in Jehovah / And whose trust Jehovah is. And he will be like a tree transplanted beside water, / Which sends out its roots by a stream, / And will not be afraid when heat comes; / For its leaves remain flourishing, / And it will not be anxious in the year of drought / And will not cease to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 23:29 Is not My word thus—like fire, declares Jehovah, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
Philippians 4:6-7 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.