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Unit 7–Jesus Teaches and Performs Miracles
The Parable of the Sower
Matthew 13:1–30

Lesson 73

Background
Jesus’ parables often utilized images that His listeners would have found familiar. So it is with this parable. Jesus’ original listeners knew well the farming methods of their day. However, these methods may not be familiar to your students.
In Bible times, a farmer’s field consisted of thin strips of land set between walking paths. Once the soil had been prepared, the farmer would go out into the field with a sack under his arm and fling the seed all around him, letting the seed fall where it would.
Sometimes the wind would blow the seed onto the walking path, ground that had been packed hard by countless travelers. Unable to penetrate the surface, the seed made great food for the birds.
Rocky soil was another problem. This wasn’t soil with a few rocks in it. Instead, this was a part of the field where the bedrock rested close to the surface, covered by only a thin layer of soil. Seeds that landed here wouldn’t

be able to send their roots deep into the ground and so wouldn’t survive for long.
The seed with the weeds in it looked harmless enough, but lurking within were the root systems and seeds of countless weeds that were waiting to spring up with the good seed and choke it.
Given that these three fates could await the sown seed, it’s a wonder that the farmers tried at all. But they continued to sow the seed because they knew that while they might lose some or even most of the seed, some would land in good soil and yield a great return.
In your classroom you most likely will have students who compare with each of the types of soil. It’s hard to tell which kids are what soil when we’re teaching them. But creating receptive “good soil” is the work of the Holy Spirit. God desires us only to spread the seed of God’s Word, trusting Him to make it grow (see 1 Corinthians 3:6–7).

Central Truth
Our loving God in Christ welcomes us into His kingdom and empowers us to grow in faith through His Word.
Objectives
Acknowledge that at times we resemble each of the four types of hearers described in the parable. RtreupsetnintgofininJdeisfufesrefonrcefotrogiGveonde’ssWs. ord, Demonstrate a desire to grow in faith and godly living.
Materials
The Basics Reproducible 73 Web Resource 73a
Bible Prep
Post in advance so students can bookmark references before class time.
Matthew 13:1–30 1 Corinthians 3:6–7

Classroom Devotion

When Jill was in third grade, she and thrive. God also provides us with

was given a tree seedling to plant people in our lives to help us grow as

at home in honor of Arbor Day. She they teach us God’s Word. (List people

rushed home, proudly cradling that who teach you about God.)

seedling, hoping to find the perfect spot to plant it.
We are like that tree. We need constant care and encouragement to continue to grow. Because this tree was

Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for
helping us to grow and thrive in Your Word. Keep our faith healthy and strong so that it does not become

planted in the right location, it received choked out by the cares and distrac-

enough sunlight to grow and thrive. tions of life. Help us to sow the seed

When we came to know and believe of faith as we tell others about you.

in Jesus as our Savior, God planted We pray in Your name. Amen.

us. As we read and learn God’s Word,

His Spirit gives us all we need to grow

Sing “Pass It On” (AGPS 196).

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Take a moment to look at a topographical map of a farming community. Ask, What colors do you see? (Lots of green, signifying farmland) Compare this map to a map of the Middle East, namely Israel. Ask, What do you notice about this land? (A lot more brown for mountains, desert, and a small amount of green) Talk about how fertile Israel is especially because of the rivers flowing through the land. Say, Israel was not all desert; the people could provide food for themselves through farming. Refer to the Background section to learn more about farming during biblical times. Say, Today we are going to discuss a parable about a farmer. It is called the parable of the sower. Sower is a name for a type of farmer.
Sowing the Seed
Let’s begin by looking at parables. As a class, you can read aloud Matthew 13:10–17 which helps to define the purpose of parables. Ask, What is a parable? (A parable is a story used to teach a spiritual truth.) Some students will be able to list familiar parables from the Bible. Make sure students understand that parables have a particular meaning. Jesus used parables as an education tool for those who could not read or write.
You could even discuss how oral stories helped to pass down traditions for years before we had access to the printed word. It was easier to remember a story than a list of facts. A possible activity: Make a list of unrelated items: bowling ball, window shade, acorn, and so on. Send half the class out to the hall or have them plug their ears. Orally share the list with half the class. Have them write down what they remember in two minutes and collect their papers. Now, retell the list in story form: I was walking down the street when I noticed a bowling ball in the gutter. When I picked it up, there was a message attached to it, but the message was written on a piece of window shade . . . Make the story as silly as you want, emphasizing the list of words. Now, have these students record the words in two minutes. You will probably discover that the students who heard the story will remember more words. It is easier to remember and, sometimes, understand things when you can form pictures in your mind.
Back to Matthew 13:10–17. Ask, Who questions Jesus about His teaching? (The disciples) Remind students, The disciples spent a large part of Jesus’ ministry following Him and listening to His lessons. They were able to interact with Him and ask Him questions. Why would that be important? (They could learn from Him, hear the lessons again and again, ask Him to explain when they did not understand.) Say, The disciples had an advantage. Look at Matthew 13:16–17. Jesus knew that they
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understood and believed that He was God. They took what Jesus said as the truth. Jesus points out to the disciples that many will long to be in their place to be able to follow, see, and hear what Jesus has to say. Look at Matthew 13:13–15. In these verses, Jesus explains why He needs to speak in parables. Ask, In Matthew 13:13–15, what was wrong with the people? (They could not hear, see, or understand Jesus’ role in life. Some may have believed Him, but they could not understand His teachings.) So, as a good teacher, Jesus uses storytelling to illustrate His point.
Say, Now that we understand the time period, let’s look at the parable of the sower as if we were there when Jesus first shared this parable with the crowd. We may not know who Jesus is and definitely do not

know that He will die on the cross to forgive and save us. We want to learn more about Him, but we may have a limited understanding of the Word of God.
If you choose, distribute copies of Reproducible 73, which contains a readers theater review of the parable of the sower. Continue by reading the readers theater as a class. You can read it simply as it is written or use props to signify the different characters (i.e., a feather for the birds, flashlight for the sun, tree branches for the thorns, smiley face for the successful seeds, and so on).
Review
Direct students to write definitions for sower and parable as they find them in the glossary at the back of the book.

Matthew 13:18–23 explains the meaning of the parable. Students can fill in the second column of the chart with the meaning of each type of seed and soil. Take a few minutes to review what is written and the meaning of each part of the parable before moving on.

A Chance to Sprout and Grow
Remind students that though we try to do our best, we continually fail to keep God’s Word perfectly. We receive full forgiveness though Christ’s death and resurrection. Keeping this great news in mind, encourage students to list three names of people who may not know about Jesus (a friend, neighbor, family member, or the like). Encourage students to keep those people in their prayers as they share Christ with them. The culmination of the parable of the sower is that faith grows thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold.
With this in mind, review the parable. If you choose, make use of Web Resource 73a at this time. Notice that the sower spreads the seed and tends to it. He expects some of the seeds will not grow and flourish. The students should remember to tell others about Jesus and continue to pray for and share God’s love with them. Remind students that it is only through the Holy Spirit that others will come to faith. There are no special words or actions we can say or do that will cause unbelievers to become believers. Together read 1 Corinthians 3:6–7. These verses remind us that through the Church, the Word is planted and nurtured by God’s people, but only God can make it grow.
Living Your Life
As you look at the four given choices, students should be able to identify the correct answers. Add the correct letter to the lifestyles column. As you discuss the answers, brainstorm possible ways to
minister to each type of person.
Remember
Allow time for students to fill in the vowels to complete the Bible memory verse and to commit it to memory. Stress that God’s people are blessed because they come to know (see and hear) Jesus as their Savior. If you choose to do so, have students highlight the verse in their Bibles.
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Discuss what a seed needs to grow and possible things that could harm the seed (bad soil, animals, lack of water or sun). Groups or individuals could plant seeds to share at home or with neighbors. Students could create Bible verse signs (Matthew 13:23) with wooden craft sticks to include with their plants. Or students could just decorate seed packets with a church schedule to share with neighbors.

This is a game to help review the parable of the sower. You will need the following:
* A short story or fable (Aesop’s Fables would work)
* Stepping stones or pieces of paper
* I ndividual strips of paper to draw groups labeled: good soil (20% of your class), rocky (20%), thorny (20%), path (20%), birds (10%), and thorns (10%)
In a class of twenty students, the breakdown would be four students each in good, rocky, thorny, and path and two students each in birds and thorns. How to play:
Before class, the teacher should read the fable and write ten questions about it. These questions should be kept secret and come from all parts of the story. Group students according to their roles and read their directions.
Good, rocky, thorny, and path seeds: You are to read this story to yourself in your small group. As a group, you will answer questions according to what you have read. For each correct answer, you will move one pathway step closer to heaven. (The students do not know it, but not everyone will receive the full story. Give the full story only to the good soil, so

they will successfully reach heaven. The other soil types will receive only a portion of the story, so they will not be able to answer all the questions.)
Birds and thorns: Hinder your team’s chances to get to heaven. Remove paper stepping stones from the floor or distract soil students by making noise but not touching them.
All four teams will line up with paperstepping stones in front of them. There is one stepping stone for each question, ending with the final question being heaven. The students can work together to answer the questions; for each correct answer they can move ahead one space. There will be distractions and unfair questions since everyone did not get the full story. Finally, the good soil people will “win” by making it to heaven. Those team members can go and help the other teams make it to heaven by sharing answers. This is a good demonstration of evangelism so that everyone, except the birds and thorns, will eventually make it to heaven. This shows that the crop will produce thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold.
Discuss how everyone felt at the end of the exercise. How can we help others be successful in life?

Take a look at 4.2.2.4, Examples of Interdependence between Plants and Animals, found in the Science volume of the Concordia Curriculum Guide. Learn about soil—where does it come from? How can we improve it for planting? What kinds of living things help improve soil? What human actions harm the soil, making it unfruitful or causing it to erode?
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The parable of the weeds, which ties into the parable of the sower, can be found in Matthew 13:24–30. Read Matthew 13:24–26. Say, These seeds will be successful, because they landed on good soil. But what also landed on the soil? (The enemy’s seeds) Ask, Why might it be a problem if the enemy’s seeds landed on the soil as well? (There might not be enough space for all the plants to grow. The enemy’s plants may take up the good plant’s soil or may choke the good plants.)
Read Matthew 13:27–30. What is the master’s response when the servants want to pull the weeds? (No) Ask, Why do you think the master will allow the weeds to continue to grow in the garden? (So that the good plants are not pulled up as well) Ask, According to the master, when will the weeds be separated from the

wheat? (At harvest time) What will happen to the weeds? (They will be destroyed.)
What does this mean? Read Matthew 13:36–43 for the explanation. Then do the following activity.
First, establish the characters: master, field, good seeds, weeds, enemy, harvest, and reapers.
This parable is about judgment. Create a chart with three columns (characters/setting, my prediction, actual character). In small groups have students predict who the characters are and then read Matthew 13:26–43. They can add to the chart who the characters actually are in the parable. The groups can finish the chart by writing a lesson to be learned from this parable on the worksheet. Groups can share and come up with a consensus as to what the parable is about.

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Teacher Guide Lesson Plan