Matthew 13:1-23

When Jesus shared the parable of the sower, I think what He was saying in this story is about everyone’s hearts and how we respond to the Word of God.

Everything we think, do, and believe flows from our hearts. And each type of soil represents a type of heart condition. Ask yourself today: Where is my heart? How am I hearing today?

For Jesus, the point is not whether or not you hear; it’s how you hear. There are four heart conditions revealed by Jesus in Matthew 13:1-23.


It is described as soil along the path. This ground has been trampled, and the evil one comes and snatches the seed so that it cannot sink in.

What makes a heart hard? Sin hardens the heart, and a heart that is hardened will sin even more. There’s a principle: Sin leads to a rejection of God’s truth, and the rejection of God’s truth leads to even more sin.

Virtually everything said about God in the Bible will be offensive to a person who is hardhearted. Whether this means God’s sovereignty, His holiness, His love, His unchanging character, His judgment—all of this will be a different kingdom mindset and will be snatched away by a person like this.

Hard-hearted people are particularly called out in kingdom parables because “kingdom” means “rule.” And “rule” means God is in control, and the hard-hearted do not like that! When Jesus came and preached the kingdom of God, He came preaching God’s right to rule over the hearts and minds of all people.

People want to be their own gods and make their own decisions. They want to do what they want to do. They say, “Who are you to tell me?”


Jesus describes it as seed falling on rocky ground. This person receives it, but when troubles come, he or she quickly falls away.

The church has people like this. Shallow hearts are attracted to the joy and excitement of a church where much is happening. They hear the gospel and seem to fit in. But then something happens—loss of a job, sickness, moral failure—someone or something comes along and pulls them from Jesus.

Just being in church, saying the right things, and doing the right things does not make you a person that Jesus wants.


This is the one that the Lord describes as being sown among the thorns who hears the message and responds, but the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth come in and cause distraction.

It’s interesting how the Lord singles out two things here as the thorns: worry and wealth. We do not need to point out how many lives are choked by riches today. It was true even in Jesus’ day; we know that Jesus presented many warnings against riches in His kingdom-minded teachings. Think about these:

• “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:23)

• “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).

• “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24).

Think of this: If this was true in Jesus’ day among people whom we would regard for the most part as being very, very poor, how much truer it is in ours! How much more choked we are with riches—we who have cars and houses and boats and bank accounts and all the modern gadgets of our materialistic culture.

There is something else to point out, too: Riches do not choke a person all at once; it is a gradual process. Like the weeds in Christ’s parable, riches grow up gradually.

There is nothing wrong with riches; it’s whether they are distracting us from God’s work in our lives.


Jesus says this: “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields” (Matt. 13:23, ESV). God gives grace for people to hear with their hearts, but there needs to be some expectation that God might speak. Open your heart to that!

In a strange way, the reality is that the kingdom of God has come to be received by some but rejected by others. And though we may not understand it, the kingdom will only have partial success, and this success is also partly dependent on human response and expectation.

So, the question is: Do you have an expectant heart or not? Do you dread the stranglehold that Jesus seems to put on you? Do you find yourself reluctant to pray and receive Him?

The difference is that, in the case of the fruitful soil, the kind of hearing that is described is an ongoing, warm acceptance of the Word of God in a person’s life. It is like soil that is continually cultivated and nourished to encourage growth and fruitfulness.

May the Lord help us to hear His Word and understand with an expectant heart so we may bear fruit and yield an abundant harvest for His glory!


“Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as depending upon the soil. In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in ourselves. But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become” (A Call to Stand Apart, 23).

“By the parable of the sower, Christ illustrates the things of the kingdom of heaven, and the work of the great Husbandman for His people. Like a sower in the field, He came to scatter the heavenly grain of truth. And His parable teaching itself was the seed with which the most precious truths of His grace were sown. Because of its simplicity, the parable of the sower has not been valued as it should be. From the natural seed cast into the soil, Christ desires to lead our minds to the gospel seed, the sowing of which results in bringing man back to his loyalty to God.” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 33).