Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 26, 1898

The Parable of the Sower


February 28, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in RH 09/26/1899.

In the parables Christ revealed the mysteries of redemption. He used the things of the natural world with which His hearers were familiar to represent the spiritual and moral truths which He wished to communicate. He presented His truths in parables, in the form of a story, because the Pharisees would not listen to direct truth. Parable teaching was popular, and commanded the respect and attention of both the priests and rulers, and also the people of other nations. There were many who would keep His lessons in their mind until their hidden meaning should be discerned. But while some of His hearers would understand the spiritual truth taught, there were many who would never reach to their deep meaning. The disciples would come to the great Teacher to inquire, and He instructed them. Christ would gladly have taught all who had interest enough to say, “Explain to us the meaning of your words.” 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 1

The lessons of Christ were to be repeated by His disciples. Simon, Andrew, James, and John had been called by Christ to forsake their nets and follow Him, and the promise was given them, “I will make you fishers of men.” [Matthew 4:19.] Those uneducated peasants of Galilee were to fulfill the divine commission. Christ’s lessons were to be carried to all peoples, nations, and tongues. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 2

In His zeal Christ was indifferent to His need of food and repose, and His mother and brethren sought to draw Him from His work. They thought the Saviour beside Himself. They thought if they could speak with Him, they would draw Him away from the multitude. But they could not reach Him for the press, and they sent word that His mother and brethren were without desiring to speak with Him. But Christ was absorbed in the solemn and awful warnings He was giving to the people. He desired that His words should find a lodgment in some hearts. He could not be interrupted or broken up. His relatives could not draw Him away. Under such circumstances, His duty to them was secondary, and He made a statement that would give those anxious, worrying relatives something to consider. He did not rebuke them, but He spoke words that have been immortalized. He seized upon the incident to convey a lesson that would be of great benefit to His mother, His brethren, His disciples, and the vast concourse of people before Him. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 3

In answer to the message, He said, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” [Matthew 12:48.] Christ never manifested any lack of respect for His mother or His brethren; but this was a point where He could fix the attention of the people, and answer the question that was agitating many minds as to what they should do if they received Christ. He knew that some present would accept His words, and that it would bring to them determined opposition from fathers and mothers and relatives. He read the hearts before Him, and stretching forth His hand to His disciples He earnestly said, “Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.” [Verses 49, 50.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 4

Here is the assurance to all who follow the teachings of Christ that they shall become members of the heavenly family. Says Christ, Obedience to My Father which is in heaven, this is the bond of union between Me and all who shall become members of the heavenly family. All who accept the word of truth will enter the hallowed circle which binds to Me every believer as brother and sister and mother. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 5

As soon as these words were spoken, and while some were yet considering them, Jesus changed His position, and going to the seaside, began again to teach the multitude. Seating Himself in the boat that was waiting to take Him across the lake, He spoke to the people who stood on the shore. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 6

And He spake many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold a sower went forth to sow.” [Matthew 13:3.] The Saviour has the illustration before Him. That man, to all human appearance, is throwing away his substance. He is indeed parting with his seed; but is he throwing it away? “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and chocked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” [Verses 4-8.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 7

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given: and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not: and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: lest at any time they would see with their eyes, and would understand with their heart and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” [Verses 10-16.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 8

All were acquainted with the process of tilling the soil, and this lesson was to repeat itself to their minds every time they were employed in this work. He who studies from cause to effect will be an intelligent worker. He will know what must be the condition of the soil to ensure the best returns from the seed that is apparently thrown away. The early and the latter rains are essential to give moisture to the ground. The heat of the sun is needed; electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed, to cause it to burst its confines and spring into life. But who was to do all this work? Through unseen agencies the miracle-working power of God was revealed. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 9

The Lord would have the lessons of the sowing and the reaping connected by invisible links. The seed of itself has no power, but the Lord has furnished the soil with the needed properties which, combined, will produce a harvest. The Lord is the husbandman. His power alone can cause the sunshine, the clouds, the dew, the refreshing showers, and the properties in the air combine to cause the seed to spring up, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” [Mark 4:28.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 10

Christ now tells them the meaning of the parable. It is the kingdom of God that is represented. His Word is the seed. “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower,” He says. “When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which receiveth seed by the wayside. But he that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that receiveth seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word and he becometh unfruitful.” [Matthew 13:18-22.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 11

The thorns of sin grow without cultivation; they will grow in any soil; but grace must be carefully cultivated. The love of the world in the heart leaves no room for Christ. Those whose hearts are divided, claim to believe the truth, but do it not. They profess to accept Christ. They want the crown, but refuse to lift the cross. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 12

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” [Verse 23.] 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 13

The kingdom of God is a community of people who have united under the leadership of Christ. They feel honored in being His loyal subjects. They are as a united family. The disloyal subject is to return to his loyalty and give himself to God. Rebellion to the law of God keeps men under Satan’s rule, members of his apostate family, to resist the truth. 13LtMs, Ms 26, 1898, par. 14