The Parable of the SowerEGP Blog post from December 29, 2012
Luke 8:11–15 (NASB)
 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.  “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.  “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they° believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance°.
Luke 8:13 Lit who believe
Luke 8:15 Or steadfastness
As with most parables, there’s alot of symbolism for spiritual truths. The seed is the Word of God (or message of Christ), the soil is symbolic of our hearts (it also is a reference to Adam being created from dirt in Genesis 2:7), and the conditions surrounding the soil are symbolic of our lives and beliefs.
Earlier, in Luke 8:5, Jesus said, “…some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.” I think that “the road” is symbolic of the mainstream or “the wide gate” of the lost people (Matthew 7:13–14), where the Word is “trampled under foot,” and Satan and his minions continue to deceive them, “so that they will not believe and be saved.” This same phrase is seen in Hebrews 10:29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Next is the rocky soil, which some say is an underlying bedrock, others claim that it’s rocks from being close to the pathway. Whatever the case, it cannot grow strong roots because of foundational obstacles. Whenever temptation, affliction (lit. “pressure”), or persecution (see parallel passage in Mark 4:17) comes along, they “fall away.” The Greek word translated “fall away” (σκανδαλιζω [G4624], skandalizo, pronounced skan-dal-id’-zo) is literally “to cause to stumble” and is where we get the word “scandalize” (to shock or horrify by doing something considered immoral or improper). How many people who claim Christianity have fallen into scandals?
Next is the seed in the soil among thorns, which produces plants, but they cannot bear fruit because they are choked and poked by worries of this world, deceitfulness of riches, pleasures of this life, and desires for other things (see Mark 4:19). Many argue about whether those in this category are saved, especially with verses like Matthew 7:19, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Consider this parable in Luke 13:6–9, “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”
The last is the seed in good soil, with “an honest and good heart.” This doesn’t mean that they already had “an honest and good heart,” but that it was truly changed upon conversion, as it says in Ezekiel 36:26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” These will hold tight to the Word and, “bear fruit with perseverance,” meaning that they will bear fruit no matter the circumstance!
I’ve heard people call this the parable of the soils because it references several different soil conditions, but Jesus Himself called it “the parable of the sower” in Matthew 13:18. So, instead of being just about how the soil receives and uses the seed, perhaps it’s more so about the one casting the seed. Mark 4:26–27 says “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.” And also in 1 Corinthians 3:7 it says, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” These passages lead me to believe that the sower is someone sharing the Good News. Maybe the message here is that the sower casts seed to all different types of soil. While anything outside of spreading over good soil may just be residual spillover, seed are still cast to the different soils, regardless of whether or not it may be received. If the seed is received and produces fruit, then praise God! If it is not, then praise God!