“The parable of the sower is preeminently a parable of caution, and caution about a most important subject,—the way of hearing the word of God.
It was meant to be a warning to the apostles, not to expect too much from hearers.
It was meant to be a warning to all ministers of the Gospel, not to look for too great results from sermons.
It was meant, not least, to be a warning to hearers, to take heed how they hear.
Preaching is an ordinance of which the value can never be overrated in the Church of Christ. But it should never be forgotten, that there must not only be good preaching, but good hearing.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 250. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.