The Parable of the Seed
One of the parables that Jesus taught during his ministry was the parable of the sower. He said that a sower went forth to sow:
And when he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:4-8)
The seed was the same seed planted in each spot of ground and the quality of the seed did not determine if it grew but it was the place where the seed was sown. The seed represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it has the ability to grow and develop if it is planted in the right type of soil and it is nourished. Jesus explained that the seed that fell by the way side is like the gospel being given to someone and because they were not ready to receive it because of sin or some other problem their heart is not able to receive it and it did not grow.
President James E. Faust explained the different types of soil where the seed was sown and how it relates to how the gospel is received by Heavenly Father's children:
“In this parable, the seed is the same but it lands on four different kinds of soil. The Savior also explained the meaning of the parable. The seed that “fell by the way side” represents those who hear the word of God but do not understand it and fall into the clutches of Satan. The second seed, which “fell upon stony places,” describes those who joyfully hear the word and thrive as long as all goes well. But when trials come and they feel peer pressure because of their beliefs, they are offended and do not endure. The third seed, which “fell among thorns,” represents those who hear the word, but worldliness and riches are more important to them, and they fall away from the truth. The last seed, however, which “fell into good ground,” represents those who hear the word, understand it, live it, and reap great eternal rewards.” (“Of Seeds and Soils”, James E. Faust, General Conference Address, October 1999)
The important thing to remember is that the type of soil the seed is planted in will determine if it will grow. In this situation it is not the quality of the seed because the seed is good and will grow if planted in good fertile ground and if it is nourished. The prophet Alma helps us understand the process of growing the gospel seed when he said:
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. (Alma 3228-41)
What type of soil are we providing for the seed of the gospel? Is it fertile ground where the seed will take root and grow and develop or is it rocky ground that is hard and impossible for the spirit to be felt? President Faust talked about how we can prepare the seedbeds of faith and allow the gospel to grow:
“We also need to prepare our own seedbed of faith. To do this we need to plow the soil through daily humble prayer, asking for strength and forgiveness. We need to harrow the soil by overcoming our feelings of pride. We need to prepare the seedbed by keeping the commandments to the best of our ability. We need to be honest with the Lord in the payment of our tithing and our other offerings. We need to be worthy and able to call forth the great powers of the priesthood to bless ourselves, our families, and others for whom we have responsibility. There is no better place for the spiritual seeds of our faith to be nurtured than within the hallowed sanctuaries of our temples and in our homes.”(“Of Seeds and Soils”, James E. Faust, General Conference Address, October 1999)
President Faust said that our homes are the best place to nourish the gospel seed and if we do we will see it grow and produce the fruit that the gospel brings. We first must be willing to keep the commandments and serve others and as we set the example our children will see the fruit of the gospel in our lives and they will desire to have it as well.
As the seed grows and bears fruit it will become the Tree of Life whose fruit is most desirable above all other fruit. That fruit is the gift of eternal life. But that is the subject of next week.
Your comments and questions are welcome.