The parable of the sower is the only parable for which Jesus offered an in-depth interpretation. The main point at the end of the parable is that our response to God’s word depends on the condition of the soil of our hearts. When our hearts are committed to Jesus then his teachings take root and we become fruitful. We all want the children that we teach to receive God’s word in faith and to grow in their relationship with the Lord. This is a great opportunity to help them see that they can nurture their faith by being aware of the things that interfere with spiritual growth.
- Our relationship with Jesus grows like a seed.
- We respond to God’s word by hearing and following Jesus.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
– Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)
If you’re doing this lesson as part of a series, then explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a different parable that Jesus told. Explain that a parable is a story told to help people understand something about God’s kingdom.
Use a disposable baking tray with some soil in it to create a ‘garden’. In one quarter of it scatter stones, in another quarter of it press the ground down hard, in the third quarter place some thorns or thistles, in the last quarter have nice potting soil. Have sunflower seeds or wheat seeds ready to scatter as you explain the story.
If your class is small enough have the children sit in a circle with the tray in front of you. Tell the Story from Luke 8.4-15, using the tray as a visual aid. Sow the seeds into each matching quarter of the tray as you get to each part of it.
It’s really helpful that Jesus explained what this parable means. Jesus was helping us to see that our relationship with God is best when it’s alive and growing. God’s kingdom might start very small in our lives but it has the potential to grow and be fruitful. The seed of God’s word is being planted in each of your hearts whenever your parents speak to you about God, and whenever you come to church, and whenever you read the Bible. How you respond depends on the soil of your heart. Here are four children who respond differently:
- Hard-hearted Harold hears about God but does not believe at all. Something might have caused his heart to become hard so that the seeds of God’s word don’t get to settle and grow. Perhaps people have walked all over his heart like a pathway and his heart grew hard. We should pray for Harold that the Holy Spirit would soften his heart.
- Rocky Rita is excited about Jesus when she hears about him but she doesn’t believe deeply so she stops following Jesus when it gets tough. We should pray for her that she would learn to believe in God with all her heart so that her roots can grow deep!
- Worrying Waldo has weeds of worry in his heart. He hears God’s word and the seeds grow but then he gets so worried about things that he forgets to trust God. We should pray for Waldo that he would learn to trust God with all his heart and have God’s peace.
- We should be more like Good-hearted Gwenda. She hears God’s word and she believes. She speaks to God regularly and trusts him. She prays for her family and forgives those who are mean to her. The seeds of God’s word are growing in Good-hearted Gwenda’s life and she’s growing in her relationship with God because the soil of her heart is good!
Remember that there is hope for those whose hearts are hard. Jesus can give us a new heart! (You can speak to the older kids about the key verse from Ezekiel 36.26).
Thank God for his word and that he wants each one of us to know him and grow in our relationship with him. Pray for the children that they wouldn’t have hard, rocky, weedy hearts but that they would have soft hearts that receive God’s word.
- What were the four types of soils in the parable?
- What did they stand for?
- What can we do to help the seed of God’s word to grow in our hearts?
Craft (Growing Flower)
Supplies: Paper, crayons/markers, seed.
Prepare a folded paper for each child with a flower drawn on it. Let the children color in the flower and glue a seed to the bottom of the flower. The flower can be folded up and unfolded to make it grow!
Feature Image Credit: The Sower by Jean-François Millet, ca. 1865