The Lord asked, “Know you not this parable? And how then will you know all parables?” (Mk 4:13). He had reference to the Parable of the Sower. In that parable some of the most basic lessons of Christianity are to be found. Yet, the Lord repeatedly warned, “Take heed what you hear” (Mk 4:24). But even as important, “Take heed therefore how you hear” (Lk 8:18)! There must have been a reason for the recurrent emphasis of the Lord. How was the Parable of the Sower heard that day?
The wayside hearer was typified by that seed which fell upon the hard road. The fowl of the air came and snatched it away. This is the man who hears but fails to understand the word of God. He comes before God as do His people, but never regards what is said. Some wayside hearers have even been baptized and others never miss a service, but the Word of truth never really makes a lasting impression upon them. It comes in one ear and goes out the other.
This is the soil which immediately sprouts forth, but because of shallowness soon withers away. The stony hearer is the man who fails to think things out completely. Some people’s whole life is littered with things they start, but never finish. It may be a hobby, a new fashion or learning to play a piano but eventually they give up without accomplishing their goal. When Christianity became difficult, this man quits! He withered away because he had no roots. Yet surprisingly, he once received the Word with joy. There are many who enjoy hearing a good sermon but few rarely profit from it. They may be pleased with the Word and yet not be changed and ruled by it. Demas was such a person.
This is the seed which lacks fruit. It became choked by the thorns and thistles. The thorny ground hearer is the man who is crushed by the cares and pleasures of this world. He is the hearer who has so many interests and demands in life that often the most important things get crowded out. He does not deliberately banish prayer, the Scriptures, and the church from his life. He often thinks of them and wishes that somehow he had time for them. He intends and resolves to make time for them but his crowded life never really gets around to it. The stony ground hearer is easily recognized. He never grows spiritually and he never bears any fruit.
This is the soil that produces. The good ground hearer is the man who hears and applies what he has learned. He produces the good fruit of the good seed. He not only believes but is also baptized. He not only studies God’s Word, but also is able to teach it. He not only ask how one is doing, he is also there to help with others are in need. As Jesus said, “…My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Lk 8:21). And again he said, “…blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Lk 11:28).
It is distressing to think that this sermon has been preached many times and in various ways, but the audiences rarely, if at all, knew that it was talking about them. It is preached to save souls, your soul and mine. Little wonder that the Lord said, “Take heed how you hear.”