The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15)
This parable is divided into three parts. The first part is the parable proper, showing how the seed is sown by the sower but requires a suitable environment to grow and yield a crop (v 5- 8). The second concerns the nature of parables, and explains why Christ spoke in parables (v 9 -10). The third is the explanation given by Christ to the Disciples of the initial parable (v 11-15).
Looking at the parable, the seed is the word of God – the Gospel (v 11). The first fell along the path, and Christ said that this was the devil taking the word away from their hearts (v 12). St Ephraim the Syrian notes that the devil is not allowed to penetrate the other soil where the seed has taken root, showing that if the heart is open to the word it cannot be taken away by external factors.
The rock is the soil that has some growth, but there is no root (v 13). St Theophylact of Ochrid finds that it depicts those who “hear the word, and then do not endure temptations because of human weakness, and deny the faith”. This is differentiated from the external cares that are the cause of the seed falling among the thorns (v 14). As such, it is necessary to endure through all of the difficulties, lest we wither or be choked up (v 6- 7). As Christians, we aspire to be fertile ground for the Gospel so that it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us. Despite the richness of the soil, without the seed there would be no fruit.
St Cyril of Alexandria, commenting on this parable, writes “The parable points out to the eyes of the mind what is impossible to see with the eyes of the body”. According to St Theophylact, should we not understand at all or understand only partially it is so we, “not fall under greater condemnation for understanding the mysteries and then disregarding them”. This is why Jesus says through “hearing they may not understand” (v 10).
Source: Lychnos November/December 2018