“The sower went out to sow.” Thus begins one of Jesus’ most famous parables. This is the story of a man who scatters seed liberally and randomly and about four different types of soil which yield four different harvests. My intention here is not, however, to explain the full parable and its meaning, but is only to consider this short opening sentence and see how the word of God speaks to us through this sentence. I believe there is rich instruction for us related to evangelism. Let’s explore this short sentence phrase by phrase.
THE SOWER went out to sow. First, we read of the sower. Who is the sower? I believe this is a description of the disciple of Jesus Christ, because every disciple of Jesus is to scatter the seed of the word. In Mark’s version of this parable, it is said, “The sower sows the word (4:14).” So the disciple sows the word of God. Notice that the sower is defined by what he does. The fundamental task of a sower is to scatter seed, or to sow. A sower who does not scatter seed reveals that he is not truly a sower. And what is the seed? According to Luke 8:11, “The seed is the word of God.”
A primary task of the disciple is to proclaim the gospel, the word of God. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said that His disciples would be fishers of men. Now He is saying that His disciples will be sowers of the word of God. So one of the distinguishing marks of the disciple of Jesus is that he or she is a sower of the word of God, whether that means the whole Bible or it means the gospel of Christ.
The sower WENT OUT to sow. In order to perform the task required by his title, the sower must go out. He must grab his seed and he must leave where he is and go out and find someplace to throw his seed. The sower must physically leave the comfortable and the familiar and go out in search of soil that may receive the seed and may produce a harvest.
Just so, the disciple grabs the seed of the word of God and goes out to find a place to throw that seed. He goes out to the field of his workplace and scatters the seed. She goes out to her daughter’s soccer team and scatters the seed. The point is that the disciple grabs the seed and GOES OUT. The field will not come to them, so they go out to the field. The disciple is sent out by his Lord (Matthew 28:19; John 20:21) and so he GOES OUT.
The sower went out TO SOW. This verb gives the purpose of the activity. Why did the sower go out? What is his goal, his motivation, his intent? The sower did not go out to aimlessly wander and to conserve his seed. No! He went out for an express purpose, and that purpose was to take his seed and scatter as much as possible to attain the hoped-for result of a harvest. The sower went out TO SOW. (Consider Isaiah 55:10-11, where the LORD says that His word will not return to Him empty without accomplishing all His desire.)
In the same way, the disciple fills his heart and his mouth with the seed of the word of God, the gospel, and then goes out with the express purpose of proclaiming the word to bring in a harvest of souls. There is a compelling reason why the disciple risks going out and sowing the word, and that reason is to “turn men from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God (Acts 26:18).” The sower went out to sow, because it is only when the disciple of Jesus Christ goes out into the darkness and sows the gospel of salvation that men and women will be reaped as a harvest for Jesus Christ.
So can it be said of you, “The sower went out to sow”? SDG rmb 4/27/2016