Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower 

Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower       – Matthew 13: 1 – 9 and 18 - 23  

Our reading today was the very well known “Parable of the Sower”.

Jesus used parables extensively in his ministry.

They were a great way of engaging with people of all ages – after all, who doesn’t enjoy a good story?

Jesus would use subjects that were familiar to his listeners. He then provided a narrative that was so simple everyone could follow it.

But his parables were not just simple stories. Actually, they were cleverly designed to stretch people’s imagination and convey something far more important. 

So, at the start of this reading, Jesus looks out at the thronging crowds of people on the beach and begins to tell them his story of the sower.

Even then he knows that only a small proportion of the people hearing him, will really understand what he is trying to convey to them. For many, his words will fall on ‘deaf ears’ a central theme within the parable itself.

So, what were the key elements to this parable?

The story as Jesus tells it is fairly straightforward.

A sower scatters his seed over the ground and it thrives or fails to grow depending on the soil it lands on. It becomes clear that Jesus (or God) is the sower and the soil represents people and the different ways in which they hear and respond to his message.

There are people, he says – that represent the seed that has fallen on the hard path where there is no soil. They have not heard or, tried to understand, God’s word and there is no scope for the seed to grow.

 

There are those people represented by the shallow, rocky soil who have heard the word, and have understanding of it. But their faith just can’t stand up to being tested. When life gets difficult their faith just collapses.

 

Then there are those represented by the weed-infested soil whose faith is choked by all the ‘seemingly more important’ things in their lives – material possessions, success, having a good time. Or even just by having filled their lives with so much to do, that there just isn’t time for anything else.

 

Then there are those people represented by the ‘good soil’. These are the people who have both heard God’s word and worked hard to understand it.  

 

Amongst these people are those whose joy and spiritual wellbeing acts as an encouragement others. They not only grow in their own faith, but also invite others and help them to grow as well.

 

What can we learn from this?

 

In the reading itself, Jesus challenges the crowd with the words ‘Let anyone with ears – listen’.

He knew they all had ears!  But he wanted them to really listen to the message he was trying to convey to them.

Most importantly, he wanted them to think about what that message might mean for them in their own lives.

The parable of the sower gives Jesus an opportunity to ask each of us to reflect on the four soils and ask of ourselves:

What sort of soil are we?

What if we don’t feel confident that we are entirely ‘good soil?’ Does that mean he has given up on us?

I don’t think so. We know that Jesus understands human nature very well. He understands our human frailty and how hard it is for us to truly to comprehend the Kingdom of God.

After all, Jesus own disciples struggled with it much of the time!

For me, this parable shows that Jesus is perfectly aware that we all have all four kinds of soil in our make-up.

 

And this will have affected our path to faith: where and when our faith started, the way it has grown and maybe waned at times, and where we are right now.

Jesus knows that we will sometimes falter and fail to be the good soil we aspire to be.

The good news is that when that happens he continues to call us by throwing his seed at us. He pours out his love on us over and over again.

 

And when he finds even the smallest patch of good soil in our hearts, he calls us back to him and nurtures the Kingdom within us.

 

But we have to play an active part in this partnership.

We need to want that seed in our heart to flourish.

 

And we need to listen and learn and engage wholeheartedly with the loving God who calls us.

 

Amen.

 

 

Val Carpenter

July 2020