Parable of the Sower | Zack DeBerry
Scripture: Matthew 13:1-9
Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock.
The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.
In today’s text we hear what has become known as the Parable of the Sower. In Jesus’ day sowing seeds was generally the way that wheat was planted. The sower would broadcast the seeds in a sweeping left to right swing of the arm. As the seeds are thrown from the sower’s hand, they cover a larger area, so not every seed ends up exactly where it should be. Everyone in Jesus’ audience knew that seeds thus scattered would end up in very different places.
Even though the sower is the first thing mentioned in the parable, he is not the main character; he is only the catalyst to get the seeds and the various soils together. The parable is actually more about the seed and soil than the sower, who is not mentioned again after the planting. Some of the seeds fell on the path, where some alert birds saw them and ate them. Some fell in rocky soil, sprang up quickly and succumbed to the heat of the sun. Some seeds were choked out by the thorns and weeds as they grew. However, some fell on good soil and did exactly what it was supposed to do, produce abundantly.
As a parable of the kingdom, the meaning has to do with how the kingdom is received by various groups and individuals. If we are anywhere to be found in this parable, we as hearers of the word are the soil. It is a little humbling for us to be dirt, but there you are. As soil, the question that the parable asks us is, “How have you responded to the good news message of the kingdom of God?” Have we allowed it to be snatched away from us and eaten? Did we not allow the roots to sink deep, so that it has withered and dried up in our lives? Have we allowed the worries and cares of the world to choke out the joy of the kingdom? Are we producing as good soil should, spreading the good news and enabling growth for ourselves and others?
These are not easy questions to answer, even if we know the answers. We need to be honest in looking at what kind of soil we actually are. My father was a nurseryman and in his greenhouse, when he seeded plants, he used his own soil mixture. He knew exactly what each plant would need, so he put those elements together in a modified cement mixer and produced the perfect soil to match the seed.
Likewise, God knows exactly what kind of soil you need to be for the seed he has placed in you. Though it may sound old fashioned to some folk, I think that the best place to get the right mixture is in God’s greenhouse, the Church. It is in the Church that we find the right nutrients that will bring the seed within us to full maturity.
Each one of us needs to take a soil sample and analyze what is going on in our lives. We do not have to be county agricultural agents to know whether or not we are producing. What do you need to become the “good soil” that God intended? Get in there, get dirty and find out.
God, may we accurately and honestly look at our lives and look at what we are producing and sowing. I pray that we would be mindful as we daily scatter seeds that will point people either to You or to something or someone else. I pray that we would be people that Humbly point others to You.