Matthew , Mark and Luke all wrote a version of the Parable of the sower and they all had subtle differences. Here is the transcript from the Jesus Bible into parable. (Matt 13:3-9; Mark 4:3-9; Luke 8:5-8)

As the people stood along the shoreline Jesus taught parables to them such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some of the seed fell on along the path, where it was stepped on, and the birds of the air came down and ate them. Other seed fell on rocky ground with not much soil. They sprouted quickly and began to grow, but because the soil was shallow the plants soon wilted under the hot sun. They soon died away because they did not have deep roots and the soil retained no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up and choked out the plants so they could produce no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, where it sprouted, grew and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had first been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear let them hear and understand.” TJB 11:27

Jesus did not use parables to hide his teachings but to reveal them. Parables were a common teaching technique used by Rabbi’s that are similar to modern day sermon illustrations. They create word pictures so they could be easily remembered and with some thought can also be understood.

The symbolism Jesus used in his parables would have been easily recognised by the audience e.g. the seed represented the word of God; yeast, sin; the farmer, God etc. Generally parables were used to communicate a single truth which the Rabbis’ would leave unexplained for their listeners to solve. In this case the disciples needed help to develop the skill of unpackaging parables.


  1. These parables would enrich their knowledge and understanding of the believers; but they would add nothing to the store of unbelievers, and their efforts to understand the parables would withdraw their minds from the truths which they had already learned, so that they would either forget them or fail to profit by them.

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