The Duty of the Sower
Mark 4:3
Listen; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

A pastor or preacher is a workman hired and sent out to sow the field of God; that is, to instruct souls in the truths of the gospel. This workman sins —

1. When, instead of going to the field, he absents himself from it; nothing being more agreeable to nature and Divine law than for a servant to obey his master, for a seedsman to be in the field for which he is hired, and whither he is sent to sow.

2. When he stays in the field, but does not sow.

3. When he changes his master's seed, and sows bad instead of good.

4. When he affects to cast it on the highway, i.e., loves to preach only before people of fashion and influence.

5. When he fixes on stony ground, from whence there is little hope of receiving any fruit. If interest, inclination, the spirit of amusement, or self-satisfaction determine a pastor to attend chiefly on such souls who seek not God, and whose virtue has no depth, he has but little regard to his Master's profit. He must not, indeed, neglect any, but he ought not to base his preference on worldly motives.

6. When he is not careful to pick out the stones, and to pluck up the thorns. The sower Complains of the barrenness of the field; and perhaps the field will complain, at the tribunal of God, of the negligence of the sower, in not preparing and cultivating it as he ought.

7. When he does not endeavour to make the seed in the good ground yield fruit in proportion to its goodness.

(Quesnel.)In framing this parable, our Lord classified the hearers of the Word according to His own experience as a preacher, basing His classification not so much upon generalities as upon well-remembered illustrations. It would not be difficult to exemplify this, by specimens drawn from the records of His dealings with men (Bruce, e.g. has found examples of each kind of hearer in St. Luke 12:11, 13; Luke 9:57, 61, 62, and in the case of Barnabas). It will suffice at present, however, to give point to His descriptions, by recalling the divers effects produced by His claims to the Messiahship.

1. There were men hardened by Jewish prejudice, and seared with worldliness, who looked only for material advancement by the establishment of a new kingdom, and yet flocked to hear His words, meek and lowly as He was. They might possibly have been impressed, had not the Pharisaic enemies of the Cross, the emissaries of Satan, stepped in with their specious arguments, and caught away the seed before ever it found any lodgment in their hearts.

2. There were others of an emotional temperament, who were carried away in the excitement aroused by His sudden popularity, who, when they witnessed the wonderful works that He did, would have taken Him by force and made Him a king; and yet, staggered by the first check their enthusiasm received, within twenty-four hours "went away backward, and walked no more with Him."

3. There was another class, more limited, no doubt, who saw in Him the beauty they desired, and recognized His goodness; men, too, whom He loved in return for all that was best in their lives; but who failed at last because their heart was not whole. Underneath all this there was "a root of bitterness" — love of riches, or pleasure, or even distracting cares of home; and though for a time these blemishes showed no vitality, not springing up simultaneously with the crop of new desires, yet by the vapidity and rankness of their growth they just spoiled the life when it was on the eve of bearing fruit.

4. The last class was composed of those whose hearts the Baptist had prepared, and the Lord had opened, who were "waiting for the consolation of Israel:" men like Andrew, John, Nathanael, or women like the devout band who "ministered to Him of their substance," and in varying degrees of productiveness bore fruit in their lives.

(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

WEB: "Listen! Behold, the farmer went out to sow,

Propagation in the Seed
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