The Parable of the Sower

In Paper 151, Tarrying and Teaching by the Seaside, Jesus started to change his teaching methods by using parables to transmit the truths he wanted to convey. The Apostles all had a go at interpreting the Parable of the Sower and ended up with very different interpretations. Then, at the end of Section 3 (More About Parables) Jesus said to the apostles:

“Now will I tell you the last of the parable of the sower. I would test you to know how you will receive this: The kingdom of heaven is also like a man who cast good seed upon the earth; and while he slept by night and went about his business by day, the seed sprang up and grew, and although the man knew not how it came about, the plant came to fruit. First there was the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And then when the grain was ripe, he put forth the sickle, and the harvest was finished. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear.” [Paper 151:3.15, page 1693.5]

In the next paragraph we are told:

Many times did the apostles turn this saying over in their minds, but the Master never made further mention of the addition to the parable of the sower.  [Paper 151:3.16, page 1693.6]

In the study group we decided to experiment with this exercise of interpreting parables by attempting to find the meaning of what Jesus intended by this last parable of the sower. Each of us had a go at it and this is what we shared the following week:

Verona Armstrong, Bateman’s Bay

“The kingdom of heaven…”: Jesus, himself in the last parable of the sower is himself the sower. The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is the important truth about the Gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached. Jesus drew on his discourse to the apostles in Paper 147:4.9 The Spiritual Level of The Rule of Living and emphasised it over the other five rules of living as a rule by which they should live. Always Jesus instructed his apostles that he was not here to establish an earthly kingdom.

“…good seed upon the earth…”: Jesus came to sow the word of God, the good Seed upon the earth, in the hearts of his apostles in order to establish the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven so that they would be enabled to continue his teaching upon the earth after his departure back to the Father. They were not to be afraid as he would send his spirit to be with them always.

Jesus’s teachings about the earlier parables of the Sower explained to his apostles and his followers that there were also four different categories of persons where the seed might fall other than that sown by the good sower, that they should be wary of:

  1. The hard heart
  2. The shallow heart
  3. The crowded heart
  4. The fruitful heart

The Fruitful Heart. In this last parable of the sower Jesus spoke to his apostles privately concerning the fruitful heart and his remarks were directed specifically to them. Jesus had already established that each of his apostles’ hearts were in the right place. So he knew that their hearts were receptive and that his sowing of the word of God fell on fertile soil which in turn would be nourished by the apostles enabled by his spirit.  Jesus anticipated that the seed – the Word of God – would send down roots and be nurtured by his apostles and would bear good fruit.

Jesus’s daily conferences with his father about his apostles and his teaching drew on his own life’s experiences and his astute observations of nature and the great differences in humanity as he encountered them in his daily life. Thus did Jesus use the parables of the sower to impart a comprehensive overview of what they could expect from their own teaching experience.

“…he slept by night and went about his business by day, the seed sprang up and grew,…”: Jesus was not ignorant of the way the seed (the word of God) would grow nor was he about to teach his apostles about the seed’s maturation process. He had so often communed with his father in prayer and had no concern about the truth of what he taught the apostles hence he had a clear conscience and slept well and went about his daily business similarly confident. He was not concerned about how the apostles would fare after he left them, he knew them to be resourceful, intelligent and that they would be guided by the spirit. They all loved Jesus and did not doubt his word. They were also aware that it was their responsibility to plan, each to his own ability his method of teaching in fulfilling the work of the Master after he left.

“…and although the man knew not how it came about, the plant came to fruit.”: Jesus had absolute faith in the consultations he had had with his father and absolute faith in his chosen apostles (except one) who followed him so faithfully. He was without fear about the messages he taught and without fear that his apostles would convey in whatever way they knew, the truth about the kingdom of God to their followers, after Jesus’ death.

It was Jesus, the sower: In the last parable of the sower it was Jesus who was the sower; also it was Jesus who would put forth the sickle and reaped the harvest. Jesus’ expectation was that the fruit of the harvest – the abundance of grain – would feed the family and produce enough seed for future harvests. So also would it happen that the apostles’ efforts would be rewarded by increasing numbers who would be drawn to follow the Master and form the religion of Christianity.

“First there was the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”: It was not Jesus’ intention to embark on further explanation or discussion about the last parable of the sower. The parable itself drew to its conclusion. Similarly Jesus as the sower would say no more on the matter.

Vern Verass, Canberra

These are fruits of the spirit as civilisation evolves. We know Thought Adjusters have flocked to Urantia since Jesus was here and in combined ministry with Michael’s Spirit of Truth mortals will respond positively to spirit leading. Agondonters will believe without seeing and progress by informed faith. The seed takes root and the soul grows – the lure of the eternal faith-adventure carries the child of time to meet the sower of all life in the universe of Nebadon our father/brother who has prepared the way.

Cecilia Bendall, Tasmania

To me the message of the parable is that the gospel Jesus had come to declare, will one day rule Urantia. I feel that what Jesus talked on in the parable he spoke of in plain English earlier when going through Samaria:

After Jesus had heard similar objections to the gospel of the kingdom presented by Thomas, Nathaniel, Simon Zelotes, and Matthew, he said to the twelve:

“I have come into this world to do the will of my Father and to reveal his loving character to all mankind. That, my brethren, is my mission. And this one thing I will do, regardless of the misunderstanding of my teachings by Jews or gentiles of this day or of another generation. But you should not overlook the fact that even divine love has its severe disciplines. A father’s love for his son oftentimes impels the father to restrain the unwise acts of his thoughtless offspring. The child does not always comprehend the wise and loving motives of the father’s restraining discipline. But I declare to you that my Father in Paradise does rule a universe of universes by the compelling power of his love. Love is the greatest of all spirit realities. Truth is a liberating revelation, but love is the supreme relationship. And no matter what blunders your fellow men make in their world management of today, in an age to come the gospel which I declare to you will rule this very world. The ultimate goal of human progress is the reverent recognition of the fatherhood of God and the loving materialization of the brotherhood of man.’ [Paper 143:1.3-4, page 1605.5-1608.1]

William Wentworth, Canberra

The Parable of the Sower – the unexplained conclusion:

The single principal idea. The message of the kingdom is destined to grow, flourish, and achieve its purpose. We can be quite confident that once the message has taken root, it will successfully proceed to its conclusion.

Explanation. Just as the wheat plant will grow to maturity when once the seed germinates on good soil, so will the spiritual message likewise flourish and reach maturity when early recipients of the message receive and believe it. Just as in nature a plant grows even when the sower is not in attendance, so in spiritual reality spiritual growth occurs even when the teacher is not present.

Rita Schaad, Newcastle

After two years of teaching and feeling over and over again that the meaning of the kingdom fails to get through to the wider public and especially even to his apostles, Jesus decided to use parables from this time onward.

The truth that is hidden therein… a parable’s focus is to convey a Truth – it seems to me to be trust and faith – and in this case, patience! – that we should hold when going about our lives with sincerity; that things will unfold and progress according to the Fathers will regardless how unfinished and fragmented the world may look, and that the teachings of Jesus – the kingdom of heaven – will come to pass.

And like the sower, we will choose the best (seed) we can muster, our knowledge about weather and seasonal variants and apply it with the utmost care – and then, step back and let God….!

Be not discouraged; human evolution is still in progress, and the revelation of God to the world, in and through Jesus, shall not fail. [Paper 196:3.33, page 2097.1]

Kim McKenzie, Brisbane

I was particularly struck with reference to ‘hearing’ and ‘ears’ and wondered if it was referring to the growth of ‘clairaudience’ and the ability to hear the voice of God from within.

Phillip Marriott, Adelaide

I keep thinking it is about Jesus’ mission to sow the seeds – the Gospel – and the future. When it will come to full fruit, the results will be varied. It could even mean all the way to the stage of a Finaliter. The Eternal Son’s Spirit Gravity will bring us all back together…. eventually (bringing in the full harvest!).