“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it. Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it. But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain” (Luke 8:5-8 NET).
Jesus frequently told stories as he was teaching the people, stories that are referred to as “parables.” These were taken from everyday life in rural Palestine of the first century. They were stories, but they were more than stories – they were told to teach a truth to people and in a way that they could be remembered.
While we do not refer to farmers very often as “sowers” today, this parable talks about a farmer planting seeds. The method of planting was quite different from what I experienced growing up. These seeds, for a grain crop, were scattered from the farmer’s hand as he walked through his field which had been previously ploughed and prepared.
The problem with just flinging seeds out is that you don’t know where they will land. And they did land everywhere! Obviously the farmer was trying to get the seeds to land in his prepared soil so he could harvest the grain when it was ready. But seeds being seeds, they landed on the path (which would have been way too hard to grow in anyway), as well as on rocks and thorns.
What is Jesus’ point with this story? He explained it in Luke 8:9-15. The seed represents God’s word. The types of soil are people who hear the good news of Jesus. Some respond, some don’t. Some are faithful for a while until it becomes difficult while others grow to bear fruit. But isn’t the point that we need to be planting seeds – that we need to be teaching others God’s word?
When we begin trying to teach people about Jesus, we can’t see their heart. We can’t know by looking at them what type of soil they may end up being. We obviously want to teach people who are going to apply the word of God to their lives and become active, faithful and fruitful Christians. But when we teach, what we say will end up being heard by all types of people.
I once heard someone teaching on this parable and their emphasis was that the parable is about the soils and our need to be teaching people who are the good soil. The problem I have with this interpretation is that we cannot tell what type of soil someone may be. And people are different than soil in that they can change. A person who might not have an interest today may be interested later when circumstances in their lives have changed.
So what is the lesson for us? We need to be planting the seed, which is the word of God. That is the task God has given us, not to judge the soil of people’s hearts. We plant, we try to nourish what has been planted. But it is God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Lets get out and plant some seed!
Readings for next week:
25 July – Luke 10
26 July – Luke 11:1-28
27 July – Luke 11:29-54
28 July – Luke 12:1-34
29 July – Luke 12:35-59