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Pastor's Sunday School Blog

Sunday School Lesson

“The Sower and the Soils”

June 4, 2017

Mark 4:1-20

Quick Facts:

Jesus often used parables, earthly illustrations, to teach spiritual truths. Parables are illustrations, word pictures, and stories familiar to the hearer’s context meant to reveal spiritual truths and scriptural principals. Many of the parables Jesus used to teach were drawn from agriculture.

Pastor’s Notes:

The parable of the “soils” is meant to show the different responses to the presentation of the Gospel (“seed”).


“sower” – the Son of God/anyone who shares the Gospel of salvation

“sow” – sharing/communicating/witnessing the Gospel

“soils” – the human heart (different responses to the hearing of the Gospel).

“fowl” – Satan

Important to view this parable as presenting the different responses to the Gospel … (1) no response (2) an emotional response (3) redemptive response

“Faith that has not been tested is not faith … faith that fizzles was faulty from the first”

Dr. Arian Rogers

The initial response to the Gospel, when tested, will reveal the reality of the response. Praying a prayer or making some emotional response to the Gospel does not guarantee one’s salvation. The reality of one’s salvation, at some point, will be tested for verification.

The key to understanding this parable is the “seeds” ability, when planted in the human soil, to grow and produce fruit. In the first three illustrations, the “seed” produced no fruit; in the fourth illustration the “seed” produced fruit.

The Word of God and the Hardened Heart (Mark 4:1-4, 14-15).

Important to understand … the sower’s intent was simply to sow seed … in this story he was not responsible for the type of soil … just sowing the seed.

God didn’t call you to choose the soil where the seed is planted, but to sow the seed.

The “wayside” (KJV) or the “path” (HCSB) would have been ground trampled down by foot traffic … the seeds, though sown, remained on top of the soil.

Some have suggested the seed (small and lightweight) was blown away from the garden soil landing on the outskirts of the garden

“birds” interpreted by Jesus to refer to Satan quickly devour the seed/remove the seed before the seed can germinate.

It is not the hearing of the Word that redeems, but acting upon the Word. Satan will do all he can to keep the Word of God sown in our mind from reaching our heart.

The Word of God and the Shallow Heart (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17).

Reminder: the sower is not being careless … he is not intentionally sowing where he knows seed will not grow … he is not aware of what is under the surface or what other vegetation is growing … he is just sowing seed.

“Stony” or “rocky” ground will not allow the seed to root and will result in a failure to germinate.

NOTE – The emotional response (“received it with joy”). An emotional response to the Gospel can often be shallow and short lived.

The Test: “sun” which represents problems/persecutions shows the shallow (emotional) response to the Gospel seed. People are often excited to respond to the offer of ETERNAL LIFE AND THE BLESSINGS OF GOD until they realize the cost of that response, or that salvation doesn’t take away all your problems. When problems come they become disillusioned with God, deny Him and desert what was a faulty faith.

DISCUSS – share an illustration of someone who may have made a profession of faith, but later, because of problems, denied their faith.

*Note – There is no time frame given from the time they had an emotional response and the time the “seed” withered; the withering of the seed could have been sooner or later.

PASTOR’S REMARKS – I have seen many respond to the Gospel, pray and profess, and never follow their profession in Christ with commitment to Christ of any kind. ARE THEY SAVED?

The Word of God and the Distracted Heart (Mark 4:7, 18-19).

The Word is sown, however, because of the desires of the flesh, the unwillingness to surrender self and selfishness to the Lord refuse a REAL relationship with the Lord.

Please note – in Jesus explanation (19) He makes it clear that the “word” was choked and could not produce.

In each of the above illustrations the “seed” identified by Jesus as the Word was incapable of germination and died failing to produce fruit. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word.” Absent the Word true faith cannot be produced.

PASTOR’S REMARKS – Because, in each of the three illustrations, the seed (Word of God) could not germinate (produce salvation), each represents a failed response to the Gospel leaving the hearer in an unredeemed state.

The Word of God and the Fruitful Heart (Mark 4:8-9, 20).

“Fertile” or “good” ground is the receptive soil (heart) where the “seed” (Word of God) germinates producing the fruit of salvation.

The harvest referred to in verses 8 & 20 is what happens when salvation is real … it is the hearer who now produces “fruit.”

NOTE – Read John 15:1-8 … “fruit” is the product of one’s redemptive relationship with Christ.

QUESTION – Can one’s life not change, or only change initially and be born again?


(1) It is the responsibility of the redeemed to sow the seeds of the Gospel into the soil of human hearts.

(2) Many/most will reject the Word of God for reasons of sin and selfishness.

(3) Some will receive the Truth of the Gospel and produce the fruits of salvation resulting in the glory of God.

Theological Theme: People will respond to the Gospel either with denial or acceptance.

Christological/Christ Connection: Jesus was the original sower Who continues to sow His seeds through His disciples.

Missional Application: God calls the believers to sow the seed of His Word trusting Him for the results

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