Matthew 13; Luke 8, 13

Joseph Smith said, “I have [a] key by which I understand the scripture. I inquire, what was the question which drew out the answers?” With that in mind, we also can ask what situation or question the Savior was responding to when he told parables.

"Parables," Susan Howe, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
In Matthew 13 the Lord presents the parable of the sower and explains that His use of parables is to reveal "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." Parables are stories that the audience can relate with. The stories can be interpreted to mean different things, depending on the sensitive and spiritual preparation of the hearer. To those who have prepared themselves spiritually Jesus says, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." To them Christ’s parables will be applicable and meaningful.

“How to Read a Parable,” Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, September 1974
The parable of the sower “is a story of vital personal relevance, for everyone hearing the gospel message can find his own ‘category’ and evaluate his ‘yield.’ In other parables the Savior tells how to measure our productivity. Comparing God’s kingdom to treasure or to a costly pearl, Jesus drove the point home that one gains eternal wealth by selling ‘all that he hath’ or, in other words, one must be willing to continue in his word and do all that he commands.”

Chart 9-7: "The Wheat and the Tares," Charting the New Testament
On occasion Jesus would share with his disciples the deeper meaning of His parables. This chart shows Jesus' interpretation for the parable of the wheat and the tares found in Matthew 13:24-43.

Chart 9-8: "Joseph Smith's Explanations of Parables in Matthew 13," Charting the New Testament
Joseph Smith interpreted the parables in Matthew 13. For instance, Joseph said that the Book of Mormon serves as an example of the treasures the householder brings forth (Matt. 13:52). These explanations come from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

“Echoes from the Sermon on the Mount,” John W. Welch, The Sermon on the Mount in Latter-day Scripture
Wording from the Sermon on the Mount appears in Jesus’ parables, especially the parable of the sower and the parable about the laborers. “In Mark 4, after explaining to the disciples in private the meaning of the parable of the sower—namely that all hearers of the word will be judged by the amount of good fruit they bear—Jesus told (or reminded) the Twelve that they too will be judged by what they bring forth: “Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?” (Mark 4:21). This truncated statement in Mark makes full sense only if one assumes that the Twelve (and the readers) were aware of what had been said in Matthew 5:14, extending some kind of actual commission or call for action. Otherwise the thought is left dangling about the point of this little parable.”

“The Coexistence of Opposites: The Wheat and Tares Together,” excerpted from The Parables of Jesus: Revealing the Plan of Salvation, by John W. Welch and Jeannie S. Welch, with art by Jorge Cocco Santangelo and art commentary by Herman du Toit.
“The parable of the wheat and tares implies that troubles would arise soon after Jesus had started His Church and that they would be widespread throughout it. As soon as the householder was gone and while his workers “slept,” the enemy would sow the field with the seeds of weeds that look like wheatbut are not. These look-alikes could be anti-Christs (literally look-alikes), false prophets, false doctrines, or competing alternates for the gospel. This parable thus gives a foreboding prophecy of coming problems, some of which were probably already beginning to be felt by the disciples, in addition to other difficulties that would soon actually be faced in early Christianity, eventually leading to a great apostasy.”

“Of Soils and Souls: The Parable of the Sower,” by Jared M. Halverson, Religious Educator 9, no. 3.
“Jesus refused to give up on the seemingly barren soil that surrounded Him…. In interpreting the parable of the sower, the Master was preparing His disciples for the wide range of soils they would encounter in their preaching, not that they might make final decrees but preliminary diagnoses. By identifying a soil’s existing state, the disciples would be able to decide how best to treat it for more successful sowing in the future. In this regard, the Savior’s explanation of the soils was of immense value—an explanation He gave only to those who would be sowing and nurturing the seed. Theirs would be the work of plowing hardened earth, removing stones, or uprooting thorns, depending on the soil before them.”