Parable of the Sower

[sower]Title applied to one of the few parables recorded concurrently by all three Synoptists (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). It belongs to that group of parables dealing with the Kingdom of Heaven. The discourse was addressed to a “great multitude” by the shore of Lake Tiberias. Christ was teaching them from the boat. The similitude Jesus employs is a familiar picture of the Palestinian peasant sowing his field. Every detail of typical Galilean fields is depicted: the small foot-paths (“wayside”), hard and beaten, running straight across the field; the parts strewn with stones and boulders; the luxuriant growth of thorns and thistles; finally, the more or less good soil. The sower scatters the seed. Christ tells where each one falls and its fate. Some seed falls on the foot-paths, it is trodden down or devoured by the fowl of the air; some on the rocky ground, this germinates and sprouts quickly, but having neither moisture nor roots it is scorched by the sun and withers away; other seed falls on better ground but the thorns and thistles depriving it of light and air choke it; a considerable portion falls on good soil and yields fruit in varying degrees, thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. Christ Himself fully and minutely afterwards explained to His disciples the truths He would impart by this parable. The sower is Christ; the seed is the tidings of the Kingdom of God; the wayside, indifferent and careless Christians with hard and unimpressionable hearts; birds of the air, Satan; the rocky ground, superficial Christians, creatures of impulse and without stability; scorching sun, temptations and persecutions for the faith; the thorny ground, inordinate desires and passions of the heart, and anxieties and allurements of the world. After showing the three-fold fate of the unfruitful seed, Jesus balances the picture and gives the triple species of the fruitful seed seen in the thirty, sixty, and hundred-fold yield. Points for application are inexhaustible. The precise date when this parable was uttered is uncertain; probably during the second year of His ministry. This parable is read, according to Saint Luke’s account, on Sexagesima Sunday.