The Meaning of the Parable
The text this week is Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23. This is the parable of the Sower, and its explanation. Jesus tells this parable to a group of listeners beside a lake. He explains the various places that the seed sown by the Sower can land. Some can land on the path, some can land on rocky ground, some seeds fell among thorns. Only some fall on good soil and produce a magnificent harvest.
Jesus then explains what is meant by this parable. He goes point by point of what is meant by each place the seed lands. I do not need to repeat what the text so clearly explains. The point is that most of the seeds (the word) do not take root. For one reason or another it fails to produce a harvest. This points toward the reality that the word is likely never to be grasped and uplifted by the majority. It seems likely that the movement of Jesus’s disciples is that of the remnant. Certainly Scripture lends itself to that view.
However, for those that grasp the word, and act upon it, that is the seed that finds fertile soil, the return is nothing short of amazing. A hundredfold, or sixtyfold or thirtyfold. This would have astounded those who heard Jesus tell of this because a good harvest in those days was a tenfold return. So, for those who hear the word and are “good soil” for it, the return and the joy are awesome. It may be but a remnant that is so situated, but this remnant can and will change the world.
It All Involves Risk
What seems clear, but remains unstated in this text is that all of this is risky. It is risky for an actual Sower, so it will be risky for us as well. A farmer planting is risking many resources in the hope that a crop will produce a good return. There is money and time put into the effort with no guarantee of return. This risk does not stop the Sower and so it should not stop us. Yes, the word may fall on ground that is not suitable for growth, but when it does find fertile soil, the reward is worth all the risk. The message that Jesus offers is not to hedge your bets and minimize your risk, but rather to sow with joyous abandon, because we just don’t know where that fertile soil is. We just know that when it finds fertile soil the harvest will be magnificent.
The risk for us may be fear of embarrassment, or the fear of lost relationships of lost business opportunities. Or simply being “that person”, or worse a bible thumper. So be it. The risk is worth it when the word and witness we sow finds fertile soil. This parable is about the risk and reward of evangelism. This is who we are as followers of Jesus. No risk, no reward is a cliché because it is true. God has not called us to silence or “risk averse behavior”. We are to put it out there and pray that our witness finds places to grow, so that the harvest may be plentiful.
So, go forth like the Sower in this parable. Spread the word, scatter seeds everywhere God puts you. Do this joyfully as our response to God’s gifts to us. We ourselves have heard the word, and are the fertile soil. Therefore our faith grew. What better response to this gift of faith than to spread the Good News, or sow the seeds if you will. The seeds that took root in us is our belief. The sowing of seeds for others is our obedience.
Praise Be to God