Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
The Parable of the Sower
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’
The Parable of the Sower Explained
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
GOOD SOIL by The Rev. Dr. Linda Flatley
For the next few weeks ss we continue our year with the Gospel of Matthew we’ll be looking at a few of Jesus’ parables. This parable of the sower is one of eight parables in this chapter. Parable literally means to “throw alongside”. C.H. Dodd describes the parable’s purpose: “to tease the mind into active thought”. It get’s you thinking about the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ words. In his parables Jesus paints a word picture often with a hidden meaning that is slowly revealed or as in this case he has to explain it’s intended meaning. Parables are their own literary genre and often have more than one meaning: not a metaphor, not an allegory but a story usually about something to which the people can relate.
In this case, Jesus may have looked out from his pulpit on the boat by the lake and noticed a sower on the hillside sowing seed. In those days farmers would walk along casting seed around them. Farmers didn’t plough first. This is the scene Jesus uses to tell his listeners about the word of God and the 4 types of soil on which it lands. The sower in this case is Jesus, then after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension first disciples are the sowers, and today we are the sowers, the followers of Jesus, the ones who have followed after in our life-long discipleship. You are the good soil where the seed of God’s word has germinated and grows and is now producing fruit as we keep God’s vital community in the North Beach going and growing. This parable is encouragement for us as it was for the first hearers, especially when we go out and share the good news of God’s abundant love. We don’t face the same persecutions the first century believers encountered at least not in this part of the world. However, we often face rejection and get discouraged when even our own family members and friends don’t want to listen to our God talk. This parable teaches us that God’s word falls on all people. They represent all different kinds of soil. Some will be receptive and others don’t get it. Our mission is not to persuade them but to keep casting the seed, the word of God, as far and as wide as we can. God does the rest and God gives the growth.
I was talking to a neighbor about a car that had broken down in the chapel parking lot. I suggested to the neighbor that it was the grace of God that the car would break down here in the Chapel parking lot where we could help. It was not the time for a sermon and I don’t know what kind of soil those few words fell on as I didn’t get a response from the neighbor… more of a quizzical look above the mask. Was the soil hardpan (as in I don’t believe in that stuff)? Was it shallow ground (the person might think about it for a minute then dismiss it0? Or were my words cast on thorny ground (where the cares of the world and lure of distractions crowd out any further interest in God’s grace)? Was it perhaps good soil where that encounter will produce good fruit? I may never know… and that’s okay. My life’s work is to accept that there are different soils. Even in the rockiest of ground we find greening and flowers growing. I know many of you love gardening and have green thumbs with indoor plants too: the way things grow are parables for us and in the weeks ahead we’ll have more examples.
For now extravagantly cast the word of God everywhere, don’t prejudge but bear witness to the one true God, the love of God, and the unique manifestation of God in Jesus Christ. We cannot force someone to hear a message they are not ready to receive, it’s like telling a joke, if someone is not in the right frame of mind they just won’t get it, your words fall on deaf ears. But never underestimate the power of planting the seed of God’s word.
I’ll close with these words from Paul in Romans. For faith comes from hearing…. In Chapter 10:14 “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” This is the way of fruitful discipleship. The word is near you on your lips and in your heart. You are good soil share the fruit of God’s love with others. Amen.