Parables are strange little things. Everyone loves a good parable. If there is a part of the bible that remains common knowledge it is probably some of the parables, like the Sower and the Soils. But what makes them strange is that while the crowds might remember them, they don’t really hear them. If you are hearing the parables alone, it is because your ears aren’t working. The understanding, the explanation, only comes by faith. And that understanding is often at great odds with the surface friendliness.
In the case of the Sower and the soils, them point is not really to identify soils which is what we so often do. The point is to recognize the overwhelming grace of the sower. And to understand that you are good soil. You who have heard and accepted the Word, you are good soil and will be made fruitful. Because the Word of God does what it intends.
The parable of the sower is one of those pieces of the biblical story that live apart from its context, but compared to something like The Good Samaritan which carries its meaning as a stand alone set piece, the context of the sower is important. Ripped out of the real life of a real Jesus, likewise ripped out of the real life of the real church, the sower leads us to the hidden god. It is only as a parable that explains the fact of the real Kingdom of God which is present in Jesus Christ and his body the church that the sower yields the gospel. The sower functions first as an explanation of why the Kingdom seems so often to be defeated. God has chosen in this age to work like seed through the Word, and the word requires ears.
But in with that primary thrust of explanation there are a couple of moral lessons worth pondering: fruitfulness vs. unfruitfulness and the things that lead to unfruitfulness, and recognition of differentiation of fruitfulness.
The sermon ends with a look at the implied eschatological meaning, all growing seasons end in a harvest.