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sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the
path, and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some
fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.
Some fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked
it. Some fell into good soil and grew, and when it grew it produced
a hundredfold. (Luke 8:5–8)
The parable of the sower is found in
Matthew, Mark, and even some writings that are not in the Christian
canon, such as the Gospel of Thomas. Because the parable is found
in a relatively uniform manner in various places, and because scholars
have concluded that Jesus spoke in parables, we can assume that
this parable did in fact come from the historical figure of Jesus.
The parable stresses the mystery of the unexpected acceptance of
the Kingdom of God despite much failure in hearing, being heard,
and understanding. In Mark’s version of the parable (Mark 4:14–20),
Jesus interprets the parable for his inner circle of followers,
though most scholars conclude that such interpretations were later
additions by the early church. Mark’s allegorical interpretation
reads the sower as the speaker of the good news, and the seed as
the word with potential to take root and “bear fruit” (4:20).
The path is interpreted as hearers who are vulnerable to various
symbolic dangers. Birds represent the evil that takes away the work
sowed in Christ’s followers. Rocky ground represents hearers who
eagerly accept the word with enthusiasm but eventually fall away.
Thorns represent listeners who are consumed with secular matters.
The good soil represents hearers who patiently accept the word and
eventually bear fruit.