The students will be able to liken the four types of ground to the spiritual receptivity of those who hear the Word of God.
Introduction: Begin your class session by showing your students a handful of seed. Ask them what needs to be done to this seed to make it grow. They will respond that it must be planted.
Progression of Events:
Climax: Those who hear the Word of God and keep it are like the good ground.
Conclusion: If we want to be fruit-bearing Christians, we must be hearers and doers of God's Word.
Response: Your students will be able to parallel the types of ground to the receptivity of those who hear God's Word.
Prior to the time this parable was spoken by Jesus, He had used word pictures but this was His first complete parable. In fact, from this point in Christ's ministry until its end He often spoke to the multitudes in parables (Mark 4:33-34).
The crowds of common people had been gathering around Jesus in increasing numbers, and the Pharisees' opposition was now growing more intense. It seems as though the Lord's intent in using this method of teaching was that only the true seekers would be blessed with understanding the truth (Mark 4:10-12). Those who had already responded to the teachings of Jesus would be able to understand the parables, but those who had rejected His truth would lose even the capacity to hear (Mark 4:25).
The parable of the sower and the seed needs little explanation because Jesus clearly interpreted it for us. As one commentator said, "The parable needs application, not explanation." Jesus said if you can't understand this parable you will not be able to understand any of them (Mark 4:13). Unless your heart is good ground (Mark 4:20) the parables, or for that matter, any of the teachings of Christ, are meaningless (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Have several deflated balloons.
"Your life without Jesus is empty, and not very pretty, just like this balloon. When you are saved, or ask Jesus to come into your heart it becomes full and a lot more interesting to look at."
(Blow up a red balloon part way. If possible, draw a heart on it before class.)
"But we can still grow in Christ just like this balloon can still be larger."
(Continue to inflate balloon.)
"Reading, praying, attending Sunday school, being helpful when we can — these are ways our hearts grow. These are good hearts. When we are most useful is when we can still grow."
Other balloons to use during the discussion:
1. One with small hole so it will not inflate; this is where the seed falls on the wayside and is unable to grow.
2. A very small balloon or one that has been tied smaller; this is the rocky soil, there is no room for the seed to grow.
3. Inflate a balloon; this person hears and believes and is saved but the cares (thorns) puncture it; use a pin to prick and pop the balloon, so that Jesus is no longer in the heart.
Use three or more graduated-sized hearts from construction paper or drawn on chalkboard. The more we do for Jesus the bigger our hearts grow and the closer we get to Jesus. Start with smallest heart and add larger ones as children are asked how we grow. We grow by reading the Bible, praying (ask children for whom and for what we should pray), learning memory verse, coming to Sunday school, inviting and bringing friends to Sunday school, helping friends (ask for ways of helping friends), obeying parents, obeying teachers and ministers, doing homework, etc.
Make two large hearts, one with stony ground and one with good ground (see Patterns). Show the stony heart. Nothing good grows there because the ground is hard. how the good heart. This one has good soft soil. These little "seeds" (the Word of God) will grow into good "plants." Talk about what good things Jesus will put into our hearts when we receive the Word and obey it. If we really believe Jesus we want to receive His Word into our hearts. You could mention Luke 6:45 and John 3:16.