Why did the parable of the sower come to mind today? Maybe I was feeling like the world was distracting me on this Sabbath day.
I wondered, "How many categories are there for the seeds? Four? That's interesting - I wonder if that somehow correlates with the Gospels?"
Matthew 13:3-9 KJV
1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.3And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 4:1-9 KJV
1And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 8:4-8 KJV
4And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Call me crazy. I don't care. There's one group that actively teaches this idea. They also claim Jesus will be crucified again and that's something I just can't agree with. But they do have some interesting studies that bear hearing with discernment.
As I read the beginning of each gospel, I came up with a simplified theme in the opening chapter for each one:
A detailed genealogy of Jesus is presented, with three sets of 14 generations. As an aside, three times 14 is 42, and this interesting number is the total number of months during which the antichrist reigns, the number of camp locations when Israel is wandering in the desert, the age of Ahaziah when he started his very short one-year reign, and the number of young men killed by bear for mocking Elisha.
In chapter two, Herod and "all Jerusalem" were troubled by the birth of Jesus as announced by the Magi. One would think that the birth of the Messiah would be met with great joy, particularly by anyone who was feeling oppressed during Herod's reign and Rome's occupation. The rejection was instant.
The seeds sown regarding Jesus were by the wayside from the moment they were sown and there's no doubt the seeds were snatched up by the enemy before they could even begin to sprout.
John the Baptist is preaching repentance and many are drawn to his message. But, as soon as Jesus is baptized he's driven by the spirit into the wilderness, where he is to remain for 40 days. John is captured, and the book of Mark has nothing more to say about his ministry. John is not mentioned again until the discussion of his beheading in chapter 6. John is effectively silenced when he runs into trouble with Herod and in prison he is cut off from Jesus.
The seeds sown were allowed to sprout but when trouble started, the ministry that had precluded Jesus' arrival withered and was scorched.
Chapter one describes the prophecy of Jesus, Mary having faith, Zecharias, after not being able to speak because he questioned whether God could prevail against the natural world, and his old age, and provide for them a son. If he was in the temple, one would think he knew all about Abraham and Sarah, right? But he does come around and even sings a lovely song of praise.
In chapter two, a tax is declared by Caesar. Joseph and Mary have a hard time finding a place to stay where Mary can deliver Jesus. Those sound like worldly issues to me.
The thorns sprang up after the seed had sprouted. Unfortunately, the seeds were choked out by the weeds, which Jesus later explains are the cares and pleasures and riches of life. They never come to maturity and produced no fruit.
Ah, John! Not only does this Gospel open with testimony of who Jesus is, but also describes John the testimony of John the Baptist, full of humility and grace. There's no discussion of Jesus' birth or youth - just a whole-hearted jumping in at the beginning of his ministry.
There is no parable of the sower in John. Also notable is that John is not martyred, and John is the disciple whom Jesus loved. And, shortly after the account of the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus walks on the water toward the disciples, who happily take him into their boat. There's no mention of the storm that's elsewhere described, and no sooner does Jesus enter the boat than it immediately is translated to their intended destination.
That sounds very rapture-esque to me. And it sounds to me like the seed fell directly into good soil, sprouted, and bore fruit. This also sounds like the best group in which to find oneself.
There are some notable differences in each version of the parable of the sower listed below and my thoughts on what those differences might mean.
1) The order of the numbers that indicate fruitfulness for seeds that fall on good soil. In Luke, the 30-fold and 90-fold are omitted.
I did a study on this recently that talks about this particular instance of the differences and some interesting gematria connections.
2) The admonition for those "who have ears to hear, let them hear" is slightly different. In Mark, it's not prefaced with "He said, or he cried." In Mark, Jesus simply said it. But in Luke, he cried it.
It sounds to me like the urgency increases with each gospel in order. Given the urgency of the end times, that makes sense to me.
3) The parable starts with Jesus going out of the house and sitting by the seaside in Matthew. The multitude is gathered so he teaches from the midst of the water. In Mark, there's no mention of leaving the house; the story simply says he starts to teach the multitude, again from the midst of the water. In Luke, the crowd was "from every city" and there's no mention of having to teach from the boat.
4) In Matthew, the seeds by the wayside are devoured by fowls. In Mark, the seeds are devoured by fowls who are specifically "of the air." In Luke, the seeds are not only snatched up by the same kind of fowl, but are also trampled first.
Satan is described as the prince of the powers of the air. Could it be that the group described in Matthew is protected from the forces of Satan, but still subject to other persecutions? Would Satan prioritize those who have said they believe in Christ but are withering under the pressure of temptation or distracted by the cares of this world above those who have still not accepted Jesus as their savior? They're the ones closest to the door and snatching them away is probably the best use of his limited time.
5) The seeds in rocky places were scorched in Matthew and Mark. In Luke, they simply withered away due to lack of moisture.
This is an interesting difference. When I read about something being scorched, it immediately makes me think of great tribulation. The groups represented in Matthew and Mark are really in for some hard times.
What do you think? Do you see the correlation between the seeds and the gospels? As always, take the idea to God in prayer and let Him guide you in study.
For now, perhaps study what made John so special and see if there is anything you might learn from reading that wonderful book in scripture.