The First Parable of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23



1.                  Matthew says Jesus came “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” (4:23).


a.                   He did many mighty works to demonstrate t the people that the kingdom of God was coming upon them (12:28).


b.                  He taught his disciples that the kingdom of God was to come first in their thinking (6:53).


c.                   But when he began to use parables to teach about the nature of the kingdom, this one came first.


2.                  “A sower went out to sow ...”


a.                   They understood that; their lives depended upon the sowing of grain so a crop could come along.


b.                  Since they were familiar with that, they could take in one of the most basic spiritual concepts of all.




1.                  The Lord grows his kingdom through the sowing of seed.


a.                   It’s another case where life works in spiritual matters in a way similar to what it does in the material creation.


i.                    God puts life in a seed.

ii.                  It can bring forth after its kind and produce a harvest.

iii.                Even a man who doesn’t understand everything about how that new life comes up, and who could never manufacture it on its own, can sow the seed and tend the crop.


b.                  But in the Lord’s parable “the word of the kingdom” is the kind of seed we’re talking about.


i.                    “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God”  (Lk. 11:8).  “The sower sows the word” (Mk. 4:14).

ii.                  That’s the only kind of seed that could grow the kingdom, isn’t it?

iii.                Nothing else has the “life” in it, the power to bring forth and produce a harvest of righteousness.

iv.                It is the message, not merely of what we must do, but what God has done for us and what he wants to do for us.

v.                  It has the potential to deliver us from the paths of evil, to win our love, and transform our heart and destiny.

vi.                What it needs is to fall upon good soil - and that’s the subject of this parable.


2.                  The soil is the heart of the hearer, and the kind of soil it is determines whether the seed turns into a harvest.


a.                   Some seed falls along the path and gets picked up by the birds before it ever has a chance; there are hearts who will make no effort to understand the word, so the evil one is glad to snatch it away.  (v. 19) (Mk. 4:15)


i.                    “The devil comes and takes away the word from these hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” (Lk. 8:12)

ii.                  The heart may be hardened like the wayside either by unbelief or by unwillingness.

iii.                People who are plenty smart enough to work any phone or computer, who know all the names of the singers and their songs or every slugger and his batting average, stare at the word of the kingdom and say “It’s over my head.”


b.                  As other seed falls on the shallow soil over the ledge rock and grows like crazy until the heat is on, they are those who receive the word immediately and joyfully but never develop any depth of conviction.  (v. 21)


i.                    As soon as any difficulty or trouble comes along because of their interest in the word, they give it up.

ii.                  They “endure for a while” (Mk. 4:17), but never have enough root to keep from falling away in a time of testing (Lk. 8:13).

iii.                It can be anything from something said by someone that doesn’t strike that person right to something which, in perspective, would be only a minor inconvenience – but to this kind of hearer it is a stumbling block worth giving up the Lord for.


c.                   Some other seeds fall among the thorns and start growing but get choked out, and these are hearers of the word who let work and money and fun stifle the influence of the work in their lives. (V. 22)


i.                    “Who hear but as they go on their way” (Lk. 8:14)

ii.                  “The case of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Mk. 13:22),. “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things enter in” (Mk. 4:19), “the cares and riches and pleasure of life” (Lk. 8:14).

iii.                “Their fruit does not mature” (Lk. 8:14) because there is too much competition for their attention, energy and time.

iv.                No living thing, whether it is a marriage, relationship or an assembly for worship and fellowship, or a walk with the Lord, can survive when the heart is there only a third of the time.


d.                  But just as some seed fell on good soil and produced an abundant harvest of grain, the word also falls on some good and honest hearts who understand it and hold it fast.


i.                    They accept it and bear fruit (Mk. 4:20).

ii.                  They bear fruit with patience (Lk. 8:15).

iii.                It’s odd that they’re not as noticeable sometimes as the others, but they’re always there.

iv.                They make the kingdom the priority they seek; they endure the heat of difficulty or trouble; they make the word part of their understanding of reality.

v.                  The fruit in their lives changes the world for them and those who their lives touch.


3.                  These truths about the seed on the soils have some very meaningful applications in our life as a congregation.


a.                   We must maintain our interest in the sowing of the seed of the kingdom.


i.                    The sower’s life was dependent on a harvest of grain; he had to sow.  So do we.

ii.                  Each one of us must make every effort we can to sow the seed along the way - the word.

iii.                Every effort to sow it must have our involvement, our interest, and the support of our prayers.

iv.                Camp and VBS are opportunities to do this.

v.                  Our classes every week should teach the word and need to have our participation.


b.                  We must accept our limitations in this process.


i.                    We can sow the seed; the harvest will depend on the interaction between the seed and the soil.

ii.                  The hearer has the say.  We can’t manipulate that fact away.  There is no way the talent or methods or dedication of the sower can change it.

iii.                This is partly respecting God’s place; he is the one whose work produces life, not us.


c.                   We must pay more attention to the good and honest hearts than to the hardened, shallow or over-crowded.


i.                    Otherwise we will lose faith in the power of the gospel and be overcome by discouragement.

ii.                  Fred: “He’ll never forget what he just learned.”

iii.                The harvest does not have to be immediate to be real.




1.                  The first parable of the kingdom allows us to gain a healthy perspective of our efforts to serve in the Lord’s kingdom.


2.                  It also give us a chance to take a good look at our own hearts.


a.                   Is it the word of the kingdom that impresses me, or not?


b.                  Does it find a ready and lasting welcome in my heart, and is it bearing fruit?


c.                   Acts 2:41