The Parables of Jesus - Lesson 2
The Parable of the Sower
By the end of this lesson the learner will be able to:
1. Identify the elements of the setting and the metaphors of the parable that are significant to interpret.
2. Identify some interpretations that are not conveyed by the parable.
3. Identify the major message of the parable
4. Observe that the parable is retold in different ways in the Synoptics.
Teaching Aids and Materials:
- Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV, NIV, NRSV, etc.)
- A chalkboard, marker board, or overhead projector.
A very helpful resource for answering some of your own questions about the meaning of Jesus' parables is David Wenham's The Parables of Jesus, Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 1989.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 5-10 minutes)
- Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements; songs.
- Lead the class in a prayer that will include thanking God for the power of his word to produce fruits of righteousness in our lives.
- Q: What are some everyday items around the house that when used in some contexts very little occurs but when used in the right context is very effective.
- Share with the learners the lesson objectives.
- Have someone read Mark 4:1-9.
Learning Experiences: (about 20-25 minutes)
Part I: Identifying the metaphors that should be interpreted
- Q: Who is Jesus talking to? A: Crowds Q. Who is the Sower? A: Jesus, therefore this parable is primarily about explaining some misunderstanding of Jesus' activity. Q: What is the seed? A: God's Word of the coming kingdom Q: What is the sowing? A: The proclamation of the coming kingdom through Jesus' ministry Q: What are the four different soils? A: path/road = unreceptive people; rocky soil = people who lose faith during times of persecution; thorny = people distracted with wealth and other things; good soil = receptive people Q: What is the crop produced? A: Righteousness
- Explain that most Jews would be familiar with hearing a metaphor of a farmer used to describe God's activity with Israel. Read Isaiah 55:10-11. Also see how this metaphor was used by early Christian writers: James 1:21; Colossians 1:5-6; 1 Peter 1:23
Part ll: Identifying interpretations not conveyed by the parable
- Q. What points have you heard made by using this parable that you believe were not being conveyed by it? (Allow 3-4 adults to share)
- Here are some examples: Some people are either born with the ability to receive the word while are others are not Only _ of those people who hear the word will respond The word of God received by a person of genuine faith produces miraculous growth The word of God should be spread gently
Part III: Identifying the major message of the parable
- The ministry of Jesus should not be considered ineffective simply because it is not accepted by some; rather its power is demonstrated in the lives of those who do receive it.
- Those who are not citizens of the kingdom did not receive the word either because of (1) Satanic involvement in the lives of some, (2) unwillingness to pay the cost in suffering or (3) distraction with material gains.
- Citizens of the kingdom have the word of God deeply planted into their internal spirit and produce righteousness in their lives.
Part lV: Observing how a parable is retold differently by each
- Draw the learners' attention to the differences between the parable of the Sower in the Synoptics. (Distribute handout 2 and put up overhead 2 "The Parable of the Sower in the Synoptic Gospels")
- Q: What things strike you as different in Matthew and Luke's retelling of the same parable? A: (1) In Mark and Luke the comparison is between people and terrain while in Matthew it is between a person and a seed, and (2) Matthew emphasizes that the second type of person receives the word with joy before falling away. Application: (about 5-10 minutes)
- Ask the learners to identify other examples of how people react to the presentation of God's powerful word. See if they can identify other kinds of reactions that tell us more about them as people than it does about the effectiveness of God's word.
- Ask the learners, "Based on this parable, what do you think Jesus would want you to remember as you evangelize others."
Assignment: (about 2 minutes)
- Reflect upon the time you believed in God's word in your life. Next week, be prepared to share some examples of "fruit" that has been produced in your life since then.
Review the lesson objectives. Let them know the title of next week's lesson: The Prodigal Son
Identify the elements of the setting and the metaphors of the parable that are significant to interpret. Identify some interpretations that are not being conveyed by the parable. Identify the major message of the parable. Observe that the parable is retold in different ways in the Synoptics.
Parable of the Sower
in the Synoptic Gospels
Mark 4:13-20 Matthew 13:18-23 Luke 8:11-15
Some people are like terrain along a path where seeds are stolen by birds; they are robbed of the word by Satan One type of person is like a seed sown along a path, stolen by a bird; that one does not understand the word and is a victim of the evil one. Some persons are like terrain along a path where seeds are stolen by birds; they are robbed of the word by the devil.
Some people are like plants on rocky ground that lack roots; they fall away during tribulation or persecution. Another type of person is like a seed sown on rocky ground; that one hears the word, receives it with joy, but falls away due to tribulation or persecution. Some person are like plants on a rock that lack roots; they fall away during testing.
Some people are like a field with thorns in it; they are lovers of the world, and cares, delights, and desires choke the word, and it is unfruitful. Another type of person is like seed sown in thorns; that one herars the word, but cares and delights choke it, and it is unfruitful. Some people are like a seed sown in good soil; they hear and hold fast the word and bear fruit.
Some people are like the good soil; they hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit. Another type of person is like a seed sown in good soil; that one hears the word, understands it, and bears fruit. Some people are like a seed sown in good soil; they hear and hold fast the word and bear fruit.
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