In the Parable of the Sower, What Is Wayside Ground?

The Parable of the Sower

In last week’s blog, we took a look at what a parable was and what the disciples understanding of Jesus message was. In this week’s podcast, we are going to begin to look at the different types of unfruitful ground so that we might learn and align ourselves with God’s plan for our life. Jesus mentioned three types of unfruitful ground; Wayside Ground, Stony Ground, and Thorny Ground. Let’s take a look today at the first type of ground, wayside ground.

This is part 4 of the Series “The Parable of the Sower?” You can find Part 1 ‘What Is the Parable of the Sower?’ here, Part 2 ‘How Important is Understanding Jesus Parables?‘ here, Part 3 ‘What Are Fruitful and Unfruitful Places with God?’

In the Parable of the Sower, What Is Wayside Ground?

Speaking to some people is like trying to grow wheat in the passing lane of the local expressway 1.

  • This quote shows the essence of wayside ground.

Mark 4:4 (KJV)
4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

  • In His explanation to the disciples, what did Jesus tells us about way side ground?

Mark 4:15 (KJV)
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

  • He told us seed sown by the sower on wayside ground doesn’t stay around long enough to germinate because Satan comes immediately for it and takes it away.
  • What does that mean?
  • How can we overcome it?

The Most Important Clue to Avoid Becoming Wayside Ground

Matthew 13:19 (KJV)
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

  • Why is it hard for wayside ground to bring up a harvest?
  • Why does Satan have such access to the seed sown in this type of ground?
  • According to Matthew the problem with wayside ground, was the hearer didn’t understand what he heard.
  • Lack of understanding the Word is the only element which makes potential harvest-able ground Wayside ground.

Whose Responsibility is It to Understand God’s Word?

  • According to Jesus understanding is in the realm of the hearer.

Definition: understanding – to understand, comprehend, put together, have insight into.

  • We have traditionally thought understanding was the realm of the preacher, or Bible teacher.
    • That it was his or her job to help us with understanding the Word.
  • But it was the hearer who had the Word stolen from him not the sower.
  • We thought if the preacher would preach it better, if the teacher could teach better, understanding would be ours.
  • It was the hearer who didn’t bring forth fruit not the preacher.
  • I can tell you as a former pastor, that I would love to have had the ability to open up people’s heads and hearts and pour in the little bit I know of God’s Word. I know if I could have that ability it would help them. As a pastor, you see people struggle. You want to help them, that’s the shepherd’s heart. But you can’t help them this way. That’s the lesson of wayside ground. Understanding lies in the realm of the hearer not the sower.
  • Are there any areas of Gods’ Word which you are failing to grasp or understand?
  • Follow the advice of Proverbs 2.

Proverbs 2:3–5 (KJV)
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, And liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, And searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.

  • Are you crying out for knowledge?
  • Are you lifting your voice for understanding?
  • Are you seeking understanding as you would silver or in other words do you apply the same discipline to the study of God’s Word as you do getting up and going to work every day?
  • Working every day is searching for silver right?
  • If you are, then you have successfully fulfilled your responsibility to God’s Word.
  • The rest is on God.
  • It’s His job to get understanding over to your spirit.
  • But, if you’re not crying out for knowledge, or lifting your voice for understanding, if you are not seeking it as you would seek treasure, than the responsibility for being wayside ground is all yours.
  • Think about what Proverbs 2 is saying to you with respect to the engagement of God’s Word.
    It’s saying your heart must be in position to hear God’s Word BEFORE you ever try to engage God’s Word.
  • It’s good to cry out to God for understanding before you come to church.
  • Before you go to the next Bible study ask the Lord to open your heart so you may understand.
  • Before you open your Bible to read it, invite the Spirit of God to help you with what you are reading.
  • You have to prepare to prosper.
  • You have to get ready to grow.
  • Being nonchalant and dispassionate about God’s Word is a sure signal for crop failure.
  • Don’t just try to wing everything.
  • Successful life is lived on purpose with purpose.
  • Being casual with God’s Word is lukewarm living.

Revelation 3:16 (KJV)
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

  • Being ‘spewed out of Jesus mouth’ is hardly a picture of a fruitful life.

Call to Action:

Be proactive where God’s Word is concerned. Put Proverbs 2:2-3 into operation in your every day life. Many say grace before they eat a meal (1 Tim. 4:4-5) that is a good practice. In a similar way, praying before you engage God’s Word will bring understanding into your life.

Questions: What other areas do you flow in when it comes to understanding God’s Word? Please leave your comments in the comments section below.



  1. David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 156