Parables: The Parable of the Seed Study Guide

This past weekend, as we celebrated Palm Sunday and the launch of our North Miami and Parkland campuses, Pastor Doug shared a powerful word from one of Jesus’ most notable stories, the Parable of the Sower. In this message, we explored the power of a story, the four types of people Jesus is alluding to in this parable and where each of them stand in relation to Him, and how God wants to use us to sow seeds in the lives of the people around us.

Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.


For the Note Takers

Stories Don’t Just Tell Us, They Show Us: Jesus constantly spoke in parables about the secrets things of God. He brought the grand, deep knowledge and understanding of God and His Kingdom into common language and connected it to everyday things that discerning listeners could understand. He used terms, ideas, and scenarios that made sense in their cultural landscape, things people would recognize, relate to, and react to. His illustrations were never so far removed that they didn’t connect with the general audience; they were always easily identifiable for the people. He made the things that are not visible, the mysteries of God, approachable and relatable.

A parable is like a doorway that opens up to deeper truths, but it requires critical thinking and a discerning ear.

God Works in Ways Not Visible to Us: Right now, God is working in your life in ways that you don’t see, that you can’t perceive or understand. He is doing things beneath the surface, under the radar, behind closed doors that you may never know about. And all of this is being done because “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB). What happened yesterday was not an accident nor what happens today, and God wants to use it all to work in your heart and mind, in your decision-making, in the way you feel and the way you treat others. He is weaving all things together, drawing people to His love and to His kingdom.

If You Are Curious Enough, You Will Find God (Mark 4:1–9): Similar to how the seeds are sown by the farmer in the parable, God sows seeds in the world, in our lives, in our circumstances, in our hearts. He sows seeds of His love and redemption, of His word. He uses His Word and He uses us to sow seeds in the lives of people.

How these seeds grows, only God knows. How the process unfolds and the seeds develops into a crop that yields much fruit is a great mystery. You can’t always see what’s happening with the seed that sown in your life or the lives of others.

Often, these seeds are not seen or perceived, but He’s been sowing them throughout the soil of your life for longer than you can ever imagine. And there are times where it seems like nothing is happening, but God is working below the surface and sprouting something beautiful in our heart or in the hearts of those He’s used us to minister to and sow seeds of the gospel into.

If You Are Curious Enough, You Will Find God (Mark 4:10-13): To those who are curious enough, to those who stick around, who desire to understand the mysteries of God, to seek the meaning behind the mysteries, you are going to be enlightened; you are going to receive the revelation of God that these simple, relatable stories are about.

Parables don’t make people blind, deaf, or dumb, the people were that way already. We all come into the world blind, deaf, and dumb when it comes to the things of God. We don’t understand or see or hear as well as we think we do. Those who approach the words of the Lord without a seeking heart often find themselves confused or discouraged by it. But those who come with a seeking heart will find Him. Again, parables are like a door, and sometimes if you look through a door you may not really understand what you’re seeing, but when you step through the door you get a clearer, up-close, full view. So, who are you? The one who looks through the door and then leaves with the crowd or the one that sticks around because you want to understand Jesus’ words?

The Condition of Your Heart Determines the Quality of Your Harvest (Mark 4:13-20): Notice that the seed is the same. The seed that goes out, that is scattered is the same seed no matter which soil it falls on. That’s because there is only one message, one gospel, one truth. It is unchanging, it is the same forever. But there are going to be different responses to the message based on the conditions of the hearts hearing it.

The four kinds of seeds represent the a) unresponsive heart that is so hardened that the seed can’t even penetrate the soil (19), b) the rocky soil is the impulsive heart that is initially excited and moved but it’s nothing more than an emotional response that falls away when persecution and social pressure comes (20–21), c) the preoccupied heart that embrace the word with joy but allow the things of this world to distract them and choke away the Word in their life (22), and d) the good, responsive heart that receives the Word and produces good fruit (23).

The crowds who threw down palm branches and shouted “Hosanna” are like the second seed, the impulsive heart, who got caught up in the emotion of the moment, the wave of excitement that the Messiah had perhaps arrived, but many of these same people abandoned that almost immediately as they were swayed by the priests to only a few days later shout “Crucify Him!” As John Gill wrote, this group, “whilst they are hearing, assent to what they hear, but when they are gone, either forget it, or, falling into bad company, are prevailed upon to doubt of it, and disbelieve it.”

The preoccupied seed fails to grow not because of trials and persecution, but because of distractions and pleasures. John MacArthur calls it the “worldly heart, swept up in the deceitfulness of riches.” In such a person, Calvin writes, “sinful affections of the flesh prevail.” John warns against this in 1 John 2:15–17.

The last seed—the good seed is seen in John 15:1–8 where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

None of the other seeds remained in Him, for whatever reasons. And what happens to those seeds? “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

This parable should cause us to reflect on the kind of heart we have.

Quote to Remember: A parable is like a doorway to a mystery.—Pastor Doug Sauder


QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group.

1. Share about a time that the Lord worked in your life under the soil, beneath the surface.

2. What is the value of sharing the truth of God through parables and stories? How have you seen this to be true in your life whenever you’ve tried to explain something complicated to someone?

3. How are you currently seeking to understand the deeper things of God? What steps are you taking in your life?

4. What condition is your heart in today? Be honest.


VISION 2023: GET IN THE STORY!

Imagine a city filled with the hope of Jesus . . . Imagine schools, businesses, neighborhoods, families, entire communities walking with Jesus, loving one another, living generously, and radiating the truth of the gospel. Imagine South Florida full of people who are connected to God, one another, and to those in need! That’s what Vision 2023 is all about! It’s a city-changing, five-year vision to make 60,000 new, passionate, fully-devoted disciples by 2023.

We believe as God’s people saturate the region with the gospel, generosity grows, stronger families are formed, the elderly are cared for, orphans, addicts, and widows find lasting hope, and true social changes happens.

Do you want to see South Florida changed for Christ? Click here to get in the story today!


A LOOK AHEAD

Join us this Wednesday as Pastor Fidel Gomez from our Hollywood campus breaks down the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Luke 12. Find out who Jesus is referring to in this parable and what it means for our world.

This weekend is Easter! Starting on Good Friday with a reflective look at the work of Jesus Christ on the cross through the lens of the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers and then concluding with a powerful Easter message centered on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we know the Lord is going to do amazing things as we celebrate the resurrection.

Invite your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and everyone in between to join us!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.