“So listen to the parable of the sower:” (CSB – Read the chapter)
It’s always funny to me when God does this. I began the reading plan that included this verse the same morning that I began writing a sermon whose focus was this passage among others. You will have seen that message before you read this blog entry. That’s why I touched on the same passage multiple times within such a short time span. So then, if God has something to say through this text, what does it mean?
Well, let’s start with unpacking the parable itself which Jesus does over the next few verses. Odds are, if you’ve been around church very long, or if you grew up in Sunday school or Vacation Bible School, you’ve heard this parable before.
A farmer is out sowing seeds and basically throws them all over the place. Jesus’ audience could have imagined this scene. Over the course of our winter (November through January) a farmer would scatter seed in his field and then come back with a plough to put it in the ground. The scattering process itself was mostly haphazard. Seeds would fall all over the place, only some of them where the richest soil allowed them to grow fully and healthily.
Jesus, in particular described four different places the seeds might have fallen. Some fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and some in the rich soil of the field itself. Later, to the disciples, He explained that the seed represented the message of the Gospel, and that each different place it fell represented a different type of person receiving it.
The path is a person who hears the word and walks away from it. Satan comes and snatches it out of his heart and mind before it has a chance to penetrate. The rocky ground is the person who hears the word and gets really excited about it, but has no depth. It’s all show and no substance. She never gets past that initial wave of feeling. As a result, when the going gets tough later on because of her claims to faithfulness, she quickly abandons them rather than walk through hardship of any kind.
The thorny ground is a person who hears the word and genuinely wants to respond to it, but has so much else going on in his life that he can’t. All his other obligations take up so much of his time that, while the word really does grow in his heart, it never grows healthily enough to bear any fruit. The final soil is the person who hears it, clicks with it, and runs with it to abundance.
That’s the story. We’ll talk about the point next time.