In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus shares some parables with a group who has gathered to hear his earth-shattering new teachings. Parables are simply stories that illustrate a point or theme. Many involve farming, seeds, and plants. One is about a farmer who sows his seeds.[i] That is an expression with which we are not very familiar these days and certainly doesn’t come up in daily conversation. But we can certainly still relate to plants and the fact that they grow from seeds, right?
So, the farmer scatters his seeds. Jesus explains that some land on the path and birds eat them. Others land on rocky ground where the soil is shallow. They sprout and grow but quickly wilt and die as they do not have good roots. Others wind up amongst thorns which grow up and choke them out. Still others land on good soil and grow, multiplying the farmer’s crops many times.
What does this mean? Well, this is one of the parables that Jesus explains to his disciples.[ii] Jesus explains that the seed falling on the path is like one who hears the message about God’s kingdom and when he doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and takes it away. The seed falling on the rocky soil is like one who hears the message and is filled with joy and excitement but because it doesn’t have strong roots dies when it is exposed to challenges. The one falling amongst the thorns is like one who hears the message, but it is choked out by the enticements of a false life. And the one falling on the good soil is the one who gets it and thrives, creating multiple seeds to follow.
In the parable, God through Jesus is the farmer. We are the seeds. But Jesus isn’t here anymore to share the message. So, what does the parable mean for us? We’re now the farmers. And the meaning of the parable is multiplied.
What is the message that we are spreading? The Good News. That despite our wrongdoing, Jesus allows us to be made right with God so that we can enjoy his Kingdom. We should help prepare the soil to receive the seed so that it has the best chance of survival. This is before the message is spread. How do we do that? By living a life filled with love and grace. The farmer is indiscriminate in his scattering of the seed. We must spread the message to everyone, without judgment about whether the seed will take root and survive. Once the seed begins to grow, we must nourish it, just as plants need water, fertilizer, and the right amount of light. We also do this by living a life of love and grace. What does the farmer not do? Rip up the plants that he believes won’t grow. A certain amount of farming is about letting nature do its thing. We must let the grace of God do its thing. We do our part and God will do the rest.
Think about the seeds that you are casting this week. Share them abundantly!
[i] Matthew 13:1-9
[ii] Matthew 13: 18-23