What Are Fruitful and Unfruitful Places with God?

The Parable of the Sower

A rich man said to his minister, “Why is it everyone is always criticizing me for being miserly, when everyone knows that I have made provision to leave everything I possess to charity when I die?”
“Well,” said the minister, “let me tell you about the pig and the cow. The pig was lamenting to the cow one day about how unpopular he was. “People are always talking about your gentleness and your kindness,” said the pig. “You give milk and cream, but I give even more. I give bacon and ham—I give bristles and they even pickle my feet! Still no one likes me. I’m just a pig. Why is this?” The cow thought a minute, and then said: “Well, maybe it’s because I give while I’m still living.”  1. Our desire as believers is to be rich in fruit and good works while we are alive. The Parable of the Sower gives us insights into the realm of fruitfulness showing us exactly how we come to this.

This is part 3 of the Series “The Parable of the Sower?” You can find Part 1 ‘What Is the Parable of the Sower [Podcast]’ here; Part 2 ‘What Was the Disciples Understanding of Jesus Parables?‘ here.

Mark 4:3–8 (KJV)
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 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. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

Fruitful Places and Unfruitful Places

  • In this parable, there is seed sown in two types of places.
  • Fruitful places and unfruitful places.
  • Each type of place experiences one of three results.
  • Seed sown in fruitful places yields thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.
  • Seed sown in unfruitful places also has one of three results related to wayside ground, stony ground and thorny ground.
  • What is the determining factor between fruitful and unfruitful yields?
    • Not the seed. Both places receive the same quality seed.
    • Not the sower. The sower sows the seed in both places.
    • There is only one thing left. The ground.
  • According to Jesus, if you can get the ground right, you can get the harvest right.
  • Wrong ground brings little or no harvest.
  • Right ground brings great and greater harvests.
  • The ground is the focal point of the parable.

Jesus as the Sower of His Own Parable

Mark 4:1 (KJV)
1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

  • Jesus is in a boat using it as a ‘floating pulpit’ to teach the people standing on the shore.
  • Note the last phrase, ‘and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.’
  • Drop down now to verse eight.

Mark 4:8 (KJV)
8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

  • Note the first phrase in verse one, ‘And other fell on good ground’.
  • The word ‘land’ in verse one and the word ‘ground’ in verse eight are the same Greek word.
  • This paints a picture for us.
    • Jesus is sowing to the multitudes on the ‘land’.
    • Jesus is ‘sowing’ the principles of the Sower.
    • Jesus is not only sharing the parable of the Sower, He is also demonstrating the very principles He is teaching in a real life way.
    • Jesus is the Sower.
    • The people on the ground are the ground. Did you get that?
  • We could say it this way. Jesus is the Sower of His own parable.

Jesus First Instruction: Listen and Look

Mark 4:3 (KJV)
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

  • The very first words Jesus utters are in the area of hearing.
  • The word ‘listen’ in verse three is an imperative or commandment.
    • It is not a military type commandment but a ‘let me get you attention’ type commandment 2.
  • With that in mind, ‘hearken’ can be updated to 21st century language as ‘Listen up.’ It was a directive from Jesus to ‘hear’ along with a bringing of the crowd to order.
  • The word ‘hearken’ is followed by the word ‘behold in verse three.’

DEFINITION: behold – behold, see, look. The word is used to promote or prompt attention.

  • When you add the word ‘behold’ to the original ‘hearken’, Jesus was saying was, ‘Listen Up. Pay attention and take a close look at this sower sowing.’
  • You can put the importance of these two words, ‘listen up and pay attention’ in perspective by imagining Jesus walking into your study, strolling into your living room, appearing in your kitchen or wherever you study God’s Word. Picture Jesus pulling up a chair in one of those locations and looking you straight in the face and saying, “Emery (or insert your name) “Listen and take a look at this.”
  • The words ‘hear or hearken’ occur fourteen times in eleven verses in Mark 4.
  • Jesus starts the parable with a call to hear in verse 3 and ends the parable the same way.
  • So, there is an emphasis in Mark 4 on the idea of ‘hearing.’
  • In fact, Jesus ends the parable the same way He starts it.

Mark 4:3 (KJV)
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

  • He ends up in verse nine with…

Mark 4:9 (KJV)
9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  • There must be something to this ‘hearing’ business.

Sower, Seed, and Ground

  • Sower, seed and the ground are the main components of the Parable of the Sower.
  • Start with the sower.
    • Jesus doesn’t tell us much about the sower.
    • The Sower is not the focal point of the parable.
    • All Jesus lets us know about the Sower is he did his job.

Romans 10:14 (KJV)
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

  • Sowers sow.
  • Sowers sow seed.
  • They sow the Word.
  • They preach the Word.
  • According to Jesus, read it closely.
  • The quality of the harvest is not up to the sowers.
  • The quality of the harvest is up to the hearer.
  • What about the seed?
  • In this parable, just like the Sower the Seed did its job.
  • If the ground was right the harvest was realized.
  • It is assumed the Sowers are sowing the quality seeds of God’s Word and not illegitimate seed.
  • Misbegotten seeds come from the world’s granaries rather than the storehouses of heaven.
  • One characteristic of seed we should be aware of?
  • Seed always produces bigger than its size.
  • This is the nature of seed.
  • God’s seed has God’s life in it.

John 6:63 (KJV)
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

  • The greatest possibilities for your life can come from just one word from God.
  • Just one seed.
  • The saying, ‘One word from God can change your life forever’ is a true word.
  • God’s Word produces God’s life.
  • His seed always produces.
  • There is no such thing as bad heavenly seed.
  • There is no such thing as old age of miracles is past seed.
  • There is no such thing as molten seed.
  • God’s Word is timeless and never fading.
  • It will produce in every generation of men.
  • It is unlike the natural seed of men which one day goes viral and the next day vanishes.

ILLUSTRATION: How to Tell Bad Seed from Good Seed
Naturally, to find out if an old bag of leftover seeds is still able to grow, pour the seeds into a container full of water and allow them to sit overnight. The seeds that are still able to germinate will sink to the bottom of the container while the bad seeds will remain floating on top. 3.

  • If you know the seed is good and the sower has done his job dispensing the seed, the only thing left to impede a potential harvest is the ground.

Call to Action:

In next week’s post, we’re going to start breaking down the three types of unfruitful ground. Because you are going to see if you can get the elements that make the ground unfruitful and get them removed out of your life, what you will have left is thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold ground. A harvest of God producing seed is a done deal when you align your heart according to the Parable of the Sower.

Question: God’s is God’s life. How precious is the Word of God in your opinion? Please leave your comments in the comments section below.

  1.  The Parable Of the Pig And Cow — Grace and Glory, Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 803
  2. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Mk 4:2–3
  3. . http://www.todayshomeowner.com/video/how-to-determine-if-old-seeds-are-still-good-for-planting/#tabs-1