In the parable of the sower what do the four examples mean?
“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
1) seed fell by the wayside
2) fell on stony places
3) fell among thorns
4) fell on good ground
The first three descriptions are not of good places for anything to grow, the examples in Matthews account go from bad to good. In fact, in the first example the seed becomes food for the birds (the birds in another parable are explained as not good, these are the birds that steal the word away before they enter people’s heart- Mt.13:31.
Jesus interprets the parable for us so we can understand all the parables (Mk.4:13).
1) seed fell by the wayside:
V.19 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.
2) f ell on stony places:
V.20-21 his 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.”
3) fell among thorns:
V22 “is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful”
Only the last example do we find Jesus say as good. This is the only ground that produced fruit.
4) fell on good ground:
V.23 “is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
Luke adds (8:15) But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience”.
The ground (the soil) is our heart and mind of which we receive the word.
Jesus tells us that he has appointed us to bear fruit:
John 15:2-6 ‘Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”
To have fruit (which is the produce of the Holy Spirit) one must be “in Christ.” They must be walking in the Spirit not the flesh.
Jesus tells the apostles (and us) in John 15:16: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain”
All the believers produce fruit; I don't think it is only this range (30,60,100). What Jesus is trying to get across is that a true believer produces some fruit at varying degrees sometime throughout his lifetime, it can be small to 100%. The yield of the fruit is always measured by the whole life of a tree not just a year. Many times we are pruned back so that we can be more fruitful, so be encouraged if you are in this state right now-- fruit is coming.
It is how we let the word work in the soil (our heart). And most importantly, the underlying reason we produce fruit is because we have understanding of the word. It changes our lives as we follow it and practice it.
No wonder Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs:
Proverbs 2:2-7: “So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding ;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding , If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly”
In Mark 4:11-12 “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables”
Matthew 13:13-14: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand”
Throughout the gospels, for example in the book of Mark, Jesus speaks--
Teaching them on what defiles us- "Hear Me, everyone, and understand (Mark 7:14)
On not having bread -Do you not yet perceive nor understand ? Is your heart still hardened? (Mark 8:17,21 see Mk.9:32, 13:34)
What is this fruit? It is the Holy spirits work in us- for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) (Ephesians 5:9)
Galatians 5:22-26: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”