In the Parable of the Sower, we read:
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, 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 produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)
This, perhaps more so than others, seems to be a simple parable. The Sower, Christ Jesus, scatters His seed generously. The seed falls upon different terrains – rocks, thorny soil, pathways and good soil. The seed falling among rocks, thorns and pathways, as one might imagine, does not grow and mature. Rather it is eaten by birds, choked by thorns or withered as the sun beats upon the rocks.
As simple as this parable seems, there are MANY deep, meaningful and relevant lessons. Let’s look at two – first the Sower and then the Seed Snatcher!
Most sermons that I’ve heard that were based on this parable seem to emphasize the soil – the bad, the thorny and the good. But this is not the Parable of the Soil. The parable focuses on the Sower, Jesus. It is Jesus who is sowing His seed, the Word of God. As He is sowing, the seed falls seemingly everywhere – where birds feed, on rocks, among thorns and, finally, on good soil. It seems that a quarter of the seed falls in a good place while three quarters falls in places where it will not thrive and grow.
I recently seeded my lawn for the second time! I purchased one of those hand-held sowers. You pour in the seed, turn the crank and the seed flies out the bottom. You can adjust a knob to determine how much seed is sown. The instructions say that the sower should walk in straight lines across the lawn and then walk a second path of straight lines that run perpendicular to the first. Well, this would all be well and good for the person who has a big (think football field) lawn to seed. But my lawn is tiny. And it has beds of shrubbery. It is also bordered by curbing and a street as well as a pea graveled driveway. I don’t want seed in the beds and in the driveway. I’d just have to pull that grass later or spray it with vinegar to kill it. I also don’t want to seed the curb and the street. So I determined that a better method for me would be to seed by hand. That way I could be very careful about where my expensive, cool-weather, nutrient-rich seed fell. It would fall exactly where I wanted it to – where I wanted grass to grow!
So why does Jesus, the Sower, scatter His seed so broadly and, seemingly, so mindlessly? Doesn’t He know that seed won’t grow on rocks and among thorns?
Well, here’s what Jesus knows. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick” (Luke 5:31 NIV). Jesus died upon the cross to save sinners. His purpose was to extend salvation to all. There are those who may dwell in thorny places and those who think their lives are “on the rocks;” they need to hear the Gospel, too. They need salvation. Romans 10:14 (ESV) poses three powerful questions – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
We are to sow God’s seed, spread His truths, share His word and extend His hope to all.
Even though I’ve been careful sowing my seed by hand, there are still some bare spots in my yard. What happened? Lots of things – some of that seed didn’t get enough water, some fell on spots of thatch, my neighbor’s dog watered some for me as did my other neighbor’s cats and some of that seed – that good seed on good soil – was eaten by the birds. I know; I saw them! Even though I buy food for the birds and maintain two well-stocked bird feeders, some prefer to eat my grass seed. Patches of my yard were invaded by seed snatchers! They ate the seed before it could take root.
Satan waits and watches to snatch good seed, too.
Before the truths can take root in hearts, Satan snatches it.
Satan knows that seed has life in it. He knows that seed has power. He knows that seed is capable of producing more.
What, then, are the lessons?
First as children of God we are called to sow in faith His seed trusting that He will bring about a harvest. It is not our decision to determine who is worthy to hear the truth. Scripture teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 ESV). All need to hear. All need to be prayed for – that hearts will be softened to receive the good seed.
Secondly, we are also to sow, water, nourish and protect the seed in our own lives knowing that the Seed Snatcher is watching for an opportunity to “steal, kill and destroy” us and our seed (John 10:10 ESV).
THIS WEEK as Matthew 13:9 says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Examine your heart. Is it hardened? Thorny? Rocky? Or has the world worn a path bare – too much television, too much time spent with the wrong company, too many wrong substances imbibed…? Examine the soil of your heart. Take action to improve its condition, to ready it to receive seed.
If seed has been sown and is growing, continually examine it and cultivate it for a good harvest!