The Parable of the Sower – Should we Just Let the Birds Come?

The parable of the sower is not supposed to be a critique of the one who sows seed or his agricultural methods.  It’s what happens to the seed afterwards that the parable is concerned with.  Let’s take a quick look:

The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:2-9; and Luke 8:4-8)

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.

“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word (logos) 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. (Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; and Luke 8:11-15)

One more thing to consider before getting to some implications and questions. There are those that seed AND those that water. (1 Corinthians 3:6) Whether or not all seeders should be waterers and vice versa is a question for another time, but one thing is clear, whether one sows the seed or waters it, God causes the growth. 

I’m pretty sure that most of you reading this will understand the meaning, but here are some implication/application questions:

1.  Should we Christians, believers, followers of Christ, etc., be following other seed sowers around picking up their haphazardly tossed seeds from the side of the road and putting them in good soil?

2.  Should we set up scarecrows or do other things to drive the birds away? (Genesis 15:11)

3.  Should we protect those who have received the word, from conditions or enemies which are always seeking to take it from their hearts?

4.  Should we move those seeds which fell into the rocky soil into better soil?  Should we add fertilizer?

5.  Should we do what we can, after they have received the word with joy to protect that joy?

6.  Should we try to keep these new receivers of the word from entering into environments which are harmful to growth?

7.  Should we take the seeds which fell amongst the thorns and transplant them in less dangerous and occupied ground?

8.  Should we teach them how to deal with worry, money, and the pleasures of life so that they don’t get choked?

9.  Should we just uproot throne patches before sowing?

10.  Should we just be more careful where and how we’re tossing seed?


Should we just let happen what’s going to happen?




0 thoughts on “The Parable of the Sower – Should we Just Let the Birds Come?

  1. Kirk Stephens says:

    I think it helps to seek men of peace (possibly fertile soil) to present the Gospel to in word and deed. Even when you have a healthy crop, a hail storm sometimes comes along and wrecks all the work. As for all those other seeds, yes, we must try to return them to the fertile soil.
    the great commission says take the Gospel to all nations for we know the Lord is longsuffering seeking that none should perish. At some point though, we don’t want to be casting pearls before swine?

    • Miguel says:


      I wondered what angle the first commenter would take. I think it’s interesting how you see the soil as person of peace. So, in your view, we SHOULD move the seeds. Let’s see what others say, and then we can come at it from all perspectives.

  2. David Bartholomew says:

    The different soils are different people. God presents his kingdom to everyone. This is his choice because it is just. An unjust God would only present the possibility of being part of his kingdom to a chosen few.
    Because of this we do not have the right to deprive anyone of hearing the gospel. If we move the seeds from where God has cast them, we are having the arrogance to correct God.
    What we should do, however, is that when we see seed growing in good soil we should water it, and provide it with fertilizer and care to help it grow. These are those who will grow to share the gospel with others, and multiply the kingdom beyond what the seed would grow in other soils.
    The not so good soils? We dare not be presumptuous and stop sharing the gospel with them, especially if there is some growth – no matter how little.
    And we need to remember that people can change in the same way that soil can be changed when it is tilled. But it is not up to us to do the tilling. God will do the tilling when the time is right.

  3. Miguel says:

    David, I appreciate your joining in on the conversation.

    I see that you took “the other side” of thinking here. Perhaps it is arrogant of us to suppose that we could move the seeds. Perhaps it’s not even our business. I lean towards one view, but I will not reveal it until more have had a chance to comment.

    What I think we all can agree on, is that seeds in good soil must be watered when we have the opportunity. But, I would say it is likewise presumptuous of us to label other’s as the different soils too.

    As to tilling, I have started a series on this and you can find that here:

  4. Nate says:

    Questions 1 and 2:
    How would you propose to move the seed in the first place? If the seed is the word (vs. 11) then once it is out there it is out there. Throw more if you’d like, but moving it seems, to me, an impossibility. Jesus cries, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” making reference to Isaiah 6:9-10:

    “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

    A truth restated by Paul in 2 Cor. 4:4:

    “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

    Our role is to proclaim/herald/preach (kerusso) the Gospel. The response is not our responsibility or within our control. So why do we feel the need to make it our responsibility and attempt to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit’s prevenient grace?

    Question 3:
    In the sense of discipleship, which we must be doing (Matt. 28:19), yes! But I think this question is a little harder to pin down than that. Are we talking about people who didn’t count the cost (Luke1:27-29) and never really committed to Jesus, jumping ship when the going got tough, in other words tares/goats? Or are we talking about people who were saved but willfully reject God at some point (Hebrews 6:4-8)? Our understanding of soteriology will play a huge role in how we answer this question.

    Luke 8:15
    “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”


    Should we just let happen what’s going to happen?

    Do we have a choice? 🙂

    We must do, James 1:21-22 says we deceive ourselves if we claim to have faith but sit on the sideline, but isn’t that growth and action the inevitable outflow of being brought from death to life? (Ezekiel 37:1-14; 36:26-27; 1John 2:1-6)

  5. Tom Schultz says:

    I think you’ve missed the point of the parable of the sower. If you agree that all parables have one primary meaning, then what is the meaning of this one? As I see it, it is not about the soil as though listeners should work hard to prove they are good soil. So many sermons tell listeners to change their soil type or warn of the dangers of their present type. Instead I see this parable as an encouragement to the sower to keep on sowing, knowing that not all the seed will produce a crop–do it anyway.

    I’m sure there is lots about discipleship, exhortation, etc. that can be mentioned, but that is not the point of this parable. Wasn’t Jesus about to send out the disciples at this time? What better thing for them to hear than the encouragement to keep sowing despite the disappointments and lack of aparent fruit.

    I just recently posted a blog on my site ( along these lines.

    • Miguel says:


      This post was designed around the idea of “missing the point of the parable.” It’s interesting to note the responses to the set of questions and what assumptions are made about the parable itself. I would be careful in saying that parables only have one point. That should be determined by context.

      I do appreciate and agree with your statement, “I see this parable as an encouragement to the sower to keep on sowing, knowing that not all the seed will produce a crop–do it anyway.”

  6. Hi Miguel,

    Some very interesting propositions you make, and some very interesting comments have followed!

    I believe as you do that there is a wealth of treasures to be learned and put into practice from Jesus’ parables. There may be one main point in each, yet it is limiting the greatness and wisdom of God to say that other very important points are not included.

    As such I encourage you in this learning from the Parable of the Sower. As you know, I also have been studying this parable at my blog.

    I would say that considering that the seed is the word of God, and that God’s word will accomplish what it is sent out to do, and that the soils are different conditions of the heart, would we really want to be taking the word of Life away from people? It would then not be us protecting the seed from the birds, but actually acting as those birds ourselves.

    We should proclaim the word and allow the word to do whatever work it is intended to perform. I am becoming increasingly convinced that even in those apparently unfruitful soils (or people) God’s word can still have an effect – not everyone becomes a Christian at their first hearing about Christ, sometimes there is work that needs to be done prior to conversion. And that a believer has allowed his life to become unfruitful does not mean that he can once more be restored to the joy of fruitfulness.

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