3Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
Jesus first presented the parable of the sower in verses three to nine.
The parable of the sower has to do with receptivity to God’s will. There are three soils that do not receive God’s message, and there is a soil that does.
saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.
We should not call this parable the parable of the sower but the parable of the soils. The idea is how soils act in response to seed. The same seed has different results. Fertilization occurs in one soil and not in three others.
Jesus later (13:19f) compared seed to the Word of God. The “sower” here is the evangelist. There are four responses to the message of the sower. The first parable is about a sower who planted seed in four different kinds of soil:
In soil packed hard by walking where birds eat the seed
In a thin layer of soil with rocks underneath where seed could not take root
In soil with thorns where the seed sprouted but the thorns choked them out
In good soil where the seed produced abundant fruit
The seed fell on four types of soil. It was the same seed in every case, but there was no fruit borne out of three of the soils. It was the soil (or the receptivity of the seed) that was the problem in three cases. The condition of the soil made the difference in producing fruit.
And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside;
Some seed fell on the road. This seed did not fertilize at all because of the hardness of the soil. This is a hardened individual who does not respond to the Word of God.
and the birds came and devoured them.
The first illustration of receptivity is where there is no positive volition to God’s Word at all. This verse begins the discussion on the various types of ground that receive the seed. The first situation was where the seed fell on a path packed down with traffic. Seed cannot penetrate soil like this.
We find the interpretation of this parable in verse 19.
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. Mt 13:19
Jesus later in the chapter interpreted the “birds” as representing Satan. The sower is the Lord Himself (v. 37). The “seed” is the Word of God (v. 19). The “field” signifies the world (v. 38).
The onus of response to the Word does not lie upon us but upon the person who hears the Word.
The business of the believer is to sow the seed. The obligation of the world is to receive or reject the Word. They refuse to believe the message.