The Sower

Matthew 13:3 (ESV) Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
(see also Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:1-15)
This parable ​​​is easier than most to interpret... because Jesus himself tells us what it means:

Matthew 13:18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

The "message of the Kingdom" may include much of Jesus' teaching, but likely starts with Jesus' repeated warning :

"Change your way of thinking -- the Kingdom of God is near!"

We're quite attached to the way we think about things, and we aren't typically willing to question, let alone revamp our thinking strategies -- particularly if it involves acknowledging the rule (i.e., "kingdom") of anyone else besides ourselves.

There are three reasons why the message (seed in the parable) never yields fruit:
  1. it isn't understood, (the seed that falls on the path)
  2. the resulting challenges are too much, (the seed that falls on the rocky ground)
  3. the distractions of life take over. (the seed that falls among weeds)

In order to let the message of the Kingdom compete against opposing messages, we need to:
  1. take the time to understand it
  2. be prepared for challenges, and don't immediately cave when they come
  3. avoid becoming too invested in the non-essentials of life