Matthew 13:3-8 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying behold, a sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, ...some fell upon stony places, ...some fell among thorns, ...but other fell into good ground. (See Matt. 13:3-8 & 18-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15).
Jesus used parables extensively to teach New Testament doctrine. Some parables are simply told, while others are given and explained in detail. In the parable of the sower, He both tells and explains it for the benefit of his disciples, as well as us today. Matthew 13, verses 3 through 8 contain the parable, and in verses 18 through 23, Jesus explains it. The reason for the explanation was that His disciples did not understand the message He wanted to teach them. This fact is confirmed in Luke's account of this incident as he wrote, and his disciples asked Him, saying, what might this parable be? (Luke 8:9).
The sower was an agricultural worker that planted seed by scattering it upon the ground. The object of a parable is to use characters, items and other examples that are familiar to the listener - things that they can understand and relate to. Certainly, all in the presence of Jesus at this time knew the reason for, and the process of planting seed. They also knew that when the sower scatters the seed some would fall by the wayside, which were the untilled paths that surrounded the field. Not having sufficient earth to cover them, they were eaten by birds. They were aware that some seed would fall in areas of the field having shallow earth covering a stony base. Not having sufficient depth of soilto properly root, plants that came from these seeds would wilt under the hot sun and wither away. These are the stony places, referred to in the parable.
Some areas of the field may not have been sufficiently plowed and cleared, leaving thorny weeds and brambles. Although seeds that fell in these areas would germinate and plants would emerge, they would be choked out by the brambles and thorny weeds that were more plentiful and took up most of its nutrients. Some seed would probably fall in such areas among thorns.And finally, Jesus hearers also knew that as seed was sown, some would fall in areas of the field that was well plowed, having deep earth, and being free from thorny weeds. These areas were the good ground. Seeds falling here would be productive and yield a hundred... sixty... or thirty-fold. Being located in an agricultural nation, all hearers in the presence of Jesus could understand the parable as stated. But what was the application - what was Jesus teaching them? Not understanding, Jesus them proceeds to explain the parable.
Jesus said that the seed being planted is word of the kingdom - the gospel of the New Covenant. The various types of soil referred to represent different type of hearers. The wayside soil is compared to a hearer that is totally unreceptive. The seed, God's word (Luke 8:11), that is heard but not heeded, is barren. In such cases the adversary of God comes quickly and takes the seed away before it even has the opportunity to take root. Mark calls the wicked one, referred to by Matthew as Satan, and in Luke's account, he is called the devil. The wayside soil represents a hearer that is receptive, but his understanding and conviction is too shallow to sustain itself in times of tribulation or persecution. Like seeds that germinate in shallow soil soon die, sothe word of God dies in the heart of the hearer that is not well grounded in faith.
Seed sown among the thorns, is God's word that is also heard by receptive minds. The thorny weeds and brambles represent the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. Such is the hearts and minds of many hearers. A new Christian growing up, or planted among worldly people that rely on riches, is very apt to be influenced by his peers to the extent that the word of God is choked out, not allowed to grow, and, in time, completely dies. However, he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit is the hearer represented in the parable as the good ground. Good, well-tilled ground that is free of weeds is receptive to the seed sown in it. A good heart and mind of a person that is open and eager to receive the word of God will hear it, understand it, and bear fruit in the Kingdom of God.
The seed sown is the word of God. When sown in good ground, it will take root and grow into a mature Christian. A mature Christian will sow more seed from the word of God, and when sown, will grow, and produce many more Christians, which will sow more seed from the word of God, and when sown ...etc.