Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23


There’s a difference between hearing and listening. To illustrate this, one time President Roosevelt decided to greet everyone that came by to shake his hand by saying “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Most of them didn’t listen and responded with a blessing or affirmation for him. They heard him, but they didn’t listen. 


Jesus also knew this and told the parable of The Sower to illustrate it. In this parable, we see that everyone hears, everyone is exposed to the Word, but only a few actually listen and respond as they need to. 


Key Terms in this Parable

  1. The Sower | Jesus & those who share His Message.
  2. The Seed | The Word of God.
  3. The Ground | The Human Heart
  4. The Fruit | Lives changed


4 Types of Ground (Responses of the Heart) 

  1. The Hard Heart (18-19) … This heart didn’t understand the message. Their heart was so hard that the Word just bounces right off. How does a heart become so hard? Romans 1 tells us how. We all know God is out there. Deep in our hearts, we all know it. It’s anh innate knowledge. But not only that, nature also points us to Him. His fingerprints are everywhere. But some people repress that knowledge so often that it continues to pack down and harden until the Gospel just bounces off it. 
  2. The Shallow Heart (20-21) … This heart has a great start and joyfully hears the Message. They have an initial response that shows promise, but it soon withers and forgets the Word. 
  3. The Crowded Heart (22) … This heart hears the Message and is interested, They want to follow Jesus. They know how to act. They want to do right. But they have so much going on that the Word gets crowded out and forgotten in the day-to-day trudge they go through. “Love, joy, and peace are at the heart of all Jesus is trying to grow in the soil of your life. And all three are incompatible with hurry.” —John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
  4. The Fruitful Heart (23) … This heart hears and listens. Listening leads to understanding and that understanding impacts their lives. The Message is absorbed in and changes who they are. This change leads to fruit.  


Four Tips to Better Listen to God’s Word: 

  1. Ask God to speak to you. … Just a quick one line prayer, “God, speak to me today.” 
  2. Slow down long enough to listen. … This goes against our culture, but it’s necessary for real fruit in our lives. 
  3. Talk about what you’re learning. … Putting what you learn into your own words helps to solidify it in your brain. Tell someone about it or write it in a journal. 
  4. Be ready to take action. … Ask yourself what you should do in response to what you just read or heard. Good intentions don’t lead to fruit, but actions do. 


What’s the point of the story? 

Jesus wants us to be hearts that listen and act instead of merely hearing. 


What kind of ground are you? 

(I actually have a shirt that asks this in a slightly different way intended to spark conversation: What kind of dirt are you? It certainly draws some looks and gets people to ask about it.)


Further study/resources the pastor used to prepare this message


  • Preaching the Word, 
  • Christ-Centered Exposition, 
  • ESV Expository Commentary, 
  • New American Commentary


  • Tell Me the Stories of Jesus: The Explosive Power of Jesus' Parables by Albert Mohler
  • Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus by Klyne Snodgrass
  • The Story-Telling God by Jared Wilson