AMEN Matthew 13:18-19. With the explanation of the first parable came a renewed exhortation to hear with a view to understanding and submitting to its truth (cf. v 9). Jesus explains the symbols in “the parable of the sower” to the disciples. Thus He gives a model for interpreting the other parables He spoke (cf. vv 36-43).
Jesus had come sowing “the word of the kingdom.” One question that would naturally arise is, “Why was Jesus’ ministry not more fruitful?” And the answer would be that productivity is determined by receptivity, and receptivity is a matter of the heart.
For the disciples, who would continue the activity of sowing that Jesus had begun, the unstated problem or question Jesus answers is, “What are we to do and expect during the time of the King’s absence which extends from His rejection until His second coming?”
The answer is that they are to sow “the word of the kingdom” in the hearts of those who would hear. In so doing, they could expect four different reactions to the message. These responses would reveal the heart condition of those to whom it is preached. Jesus explains that the four soils symbolize four responses the disciples may expect from their preaching the word. Not all preaching would be productive, but some would. The Parable of the Sower would guard the disciples against any unrealistic expectations, but it would also offer encouragement that their work would not be in vain.
Some hearers would be uninterested, and so in their hearts “the word” would not germinate. They would hear, but “not understand,” and hence not believe (cf. Luke 8:12). The birds represent “the wicked one,” Satan, who “snatches away what was sown in his heart.” Clearly, this first type of soil represents the unsaved.