He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.”
This parable of the sower and the seed should be both a warning and an encouragement to all who endeavor to labor in the gospel: a warning against the folly of taking at face value every profession of faith in Christ, but an encouragement when many who profess prove unreal. We remember that even when the divine-human preacher was the sower of the gospel seed there were many who heard in vain and who never brought forth fruit unto perfection. It is our business to sow under all circumstances (Ecclesiastes 11:6), knowing that the seed is incorruptible (1 Peter 1:23). Though many give but momentary thought to the message, it will accomplish the purpose of God (Isaiah 55:11) and all who hear in faith will be saved (John 5:24).
The Word tests as well as saves. Where the heart is occupied with other things—such as the cares of this world or the deceitfulness of riches—there will be little appreciation of that message that speaks of another life altogether and of riches that can never pass away. Where possible, the preacher is to break up the fallow ground and sow not among thorns (Jeremiah 4:3). On the other hand, he is to be ready in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2) even though this involves some seed falling on hard, unprepared hearts, only to be devoured by the birds of the air. These birds are fit pictures of Satan and his demon host, who are ever on the alert to hinder the gospel.
We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed o’er the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
The soft, refreshing rain.
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 160.