The Parable of the Sower & the Seed (Matthew 13:1-23) is probably the first parable Jesus delivered in his public ministry. The parable is found in the “Sermon on the Sea” — one of three great sermons Jesus gave which are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (The Sermon on the Mount, Chapters 5-7; the Sermon on the Sea, Chapter 13; and the Olivet Discourse, Chapters 24-25).
Unlike the other parables of Jesus, this parable does not contain a twist or surprise in the story. The parable and its interpretation have become so familiar to us that we may overlook the fact that it must have sounded pointless to those who heard it without any explanation.
Just what you’d expect to happen in the story happens. There is no puzzle, no contradiction, no one violates cultural norms, and there’s no explanation given to the multitudes. They must have thought, so what? Why would Jesus tell this story?
The people of the day had expectations about what the Messiah would do when he came and Jesus wasn’t meeting their expectations. The Jews believed that the Messiah would establish the kingdom of God over the whole world. They were disappointed that nothing seemed to be happening, not even the overthrow of Roman rule and the religious leaders of the day were increasingly antagonistic toward Jesus.
The disciples must have wondered why. Since Jesus’ teaching was so profound and He was being confirmed as the Messiah, why did his ministry have apparently so little effect?
The parable of the sower & the seed is the answer.