One of the parables the Savior taught is referred to as the sower and is one of a small number of parables reported in all three of the synoptic Gospels. “A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8: 5-8 in the Bible) Matthew added this, “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold…” (Matthew 13: 8-9 in the Bible)
The Seed is the Word or Gospel of Jesus Christ
It is also one of an even smaller number of parables Jesus explained to His disciples. The seed that was sown was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13: 19 in the Bible)), “the word” (Mark 4: 14 in the Bible), or “the word of God” (Luke 8: 11 in the Bible). In our language the Word is the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles and prophets, also referred to in the scriptures as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The different soils on which the seeds fell represent different ways in which we receive and follow these teachings.
Some Fell by the Way Side
The seeds that “fell by the way side” (Mark 4: 4 in the Bible) have not reached soil where they might possibly grow. They are like teachings that fall upon a heart hardened or unprepared. We are all faced with the question, what do we do with the Savior’s teachings as we live our lives?
Some Fell on Stony Ground
Some seeds “fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4: 5-6 in the Bible). Jesus explained that this describes those “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness,” but because they “have no root in themselves, … when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4: 16-17 in the Bible)
What causes hearers to “have no root in themselves”? Christians who are not completely converted to the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices. Any one of us can develop a stony heart, which is stony ground for spiritual seeds. Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.
Some Fell Among Thorns
Jesus taught that “some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit” (Mark 4: 7 in the Bible). He explained that these are “such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4: 18-19 in the Bible). What does it mean to be unfruitful? To not allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to change us from our worldly conduct to drawing near to our Savior by keeping His commandments.
This is surely a warning to all of us to allow the gospel teachings to help us become more righteous and fruitful.
Some Fell in Good Ground
The parable of the sower ends with the Savior’s description of the seed that “fell into good ground, and according to Matthew brought forth fruit” in various measures. Jesus explained that “the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 in the Bible). We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:6–7 in the Bible). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and keeping the commandments of God. We must also seek that mighty change of heart (Alma 5:12–14 in the Book of Mormon) that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.
Some of the article was taken from the remarks of Dallin H. Oaks in General Conference April 2015.