Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Isaiah 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

MEMORY VERSE: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. —John 15:8

CENTRAL THOUGHT: In the parable of the seed sown in the field, the parable of the fig tree, the parable of the vineyard and the analogy of the vine, we see a common truth: God is looking for fruit. He has done everything necessary for the production of fruit; He is willing to work with us and bear long with us so we will bear fruit; and now it is up to us to rid our lives of the things which choke His Word and cause us to become unfruitful.


Luke 13:7 “Cumber”: render sterile or barren.

Luke 13:8 “Dung”: cast fertilizer or manure. “They carry dung into their gardens to moisten the earth, and dig about the roots of the trees, and lay them bare, and cover them again, and prune them, and smoke them to kill the worms” (Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible).


As we begin the study into the third type of ground—that which produced thorns and weeds, choking the new plant into unfruitfulness, we are reminded of two other parables, one in the Old Testament and the other in the New, that bring out a similar scenario.

Luke records the parable of the fig tree, no doubt given by Jesus to warn Israel of the impending destruction and His willingness to have mercy and work with them. In a general way, He also graciously bears with all souls who begin to grow in His grace.

The poetic imagery of prophet Isaiah hundreds of years earlier expresses God’s desire for fruit from His chosen people then, and His touching cry, “What more could I have done?” again shows us His heart, broken by the wild, bitter produce He found after all His years of toil with these people.

In each of these stories, we see His heart’s desire: He is looking for fruit. Fruit is the natural outcome of relationship, of union. It is right that He should expect it.

The parable of the sower reveals the four things that choke the Word and stifle all fruit- bearing. Notice that the Word germinated and “sprang up.” They (the believers, or new plants) “went forth.” They had come past the blade stage and were forming the ear. The thorns which choked the newly forming fruit were identified as, 1) cares of this world (Matthew and Mark) and cares of this life (Luke), 2) the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew and Mark) and riches of this life (Luke), 3) lusts of other things (Mark), and 4) pleasures of this life (Luke).

The emphasis in this lesson is the tender care, forbearance, patience, and toil that Christ is willing to invest in His crop. Surely our hearts should be moved to action and watchfulness in our own lives that we bear our Lord fruit, much fruit, that He may be glorified.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. How many years had the owner of the vineyard sought for fruit from the fig tree?
  2. What was the dresser of the vineyard willing to do before the tree was cut down?
  3. What Old Testament prophet told the story of God’s vineyard?
  4. Name the things God had done for His vineyard.
  5. What disappointment did He receive, and what was His lament?
  6. Share an experience in which God cultivated and fertilized about you so that you would bear fruit for Him.


Aren’t you thankful for how the Lord works in your life, digging about you, pruning you, and amending the soil of your heart? He has ways of dealing with each of us to rid us of the weeds that so easily overtake us and choke the Word.

Ultimately it is up to us to respond to God’s dealings and provisions with careful diligence, or our end will be like the word picture in Proverbs 24:31 of a vineyard—a life—all grown over with thorns and nettles and the stone wall broken down, the result of sleepy, indolent slothfulness and neglect.

Thorns are not easy to deal with. When we built a new house, we gathered out many wheelbarrow loads of rocks, had topsoil brought in, carefully smoothed out the dirt, and eagerly sowed grass seed, anticipating pretty green grass as the weather warmed and the rain fell. But what was this? Thistles? The children and I spent many hours going about with a shovel and sharp hoe, hands covered with heavy gloves, to extract the prickly base heads of thistles and haul them to the burn pile. I can’t even imagine the work involved in clearing land of goatheads!

I can, however, tell you that it is a daily task to keep the weeds out of my heart’s garden. Just a little inattention, a little indulgence to the flesh, a little lack of prayer, and little sprouts of noxious weeds begin to crop up. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who daily checks me and prods me to action.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


This chart portrays the way a majority of people spend their days. Just a glance at it is proof of the many things that can get in the way of our walk with the Lord, just as thorns that choke the Word. When it comes right down to it, going to church, having devotions and helping others all takes time. There is not a section on this chart for any of those things; that means it is in our hands. Jesus was constantly pointing to things eternal, for He knew that all things pertaining to this life will one day disappear. May the Lord teach us how to manage our seconds, minutes and days. If we fail to rid our hearts of the choking thorns in this life then it is certain that we will live in eternal regret.

—Sis. LaDawna Adams