3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.” (Matthew 13:3-4 NIV)
The above Scripture is taken from Jesus’ parable of the sower. In order to make sure we are staying in the proper context, before you go on please take some time and read the entire passage, found in Matthew 13:1-23.
I freely admit it, I hate gardening. Yes, I get the whole it’s nice to grow your own produce. But is it? I mean you spend months out of your lives planting, watering weeding fertilizing your tomatoes. Maybe, depending on your garden, you give up a good part of your weekend working in the soil. I spent 15 minutes in the grocery store. Doesn’t seem a fair trade-off.
Maybe it would be Ok if your garden produced just enough for you. But it either gives you a small yield for all the work, or such a great yell you don’t know what to do with it. You find yourself reduced to driving around at midnight, leaving bags of zucchini on people’s front steps.
My Dad loved to garden. We had a huge garden every year that took up a little over an acre of land. That big a garden took a lot of hands to keep it growing. Well,mostly my Father’s hands and mine. We dug, used the rototiller, planted and watered. We picked off bugs and sprayed. We harvested. A good portion of my summer was spent helping him in the garden.
I never developed a love for gardening, actually the opposite. But that didn’t mean I didn’t learn a thing or two from my father about the process. I learned that where you plant is as important, if not more so, than what you plant. You plant in good fertile earth with the proper nutrients. You make sure you plant where there is the right amount of sun, and a supply of water. If you don’t plant in the proper soil you’re just wasting your seeds and your time
Which makes Jesus’ parable of the sower so interesting. This parable may be familiar to you, describing the different types of soil, or human heart, in which the word of God can be planted. It describes the shallow heart, the heart full of sin and the heart so deep the Holy Spirit can take root.
But let’s lift our eyes off of the ground for a moment and look at the sower. In the sower we see a wasteful extravagance. This guy is throwing seed everywhere. He throws it on the rock, in the shallow ground, he throws it in the middle of the weeds and in the good earth. A knowledgeable farmer would never be this wasteful.
But I believe this is a part of Jesus’ point. He describes exactly how God pours out HIs grace and his word upon the world. No one is spared an opportunity to hear HIs word. Everyone gets to experience His grace even if it doesn’t take hold. God doesn’t just go to the obvious “good soil” He is extravagant. He is hopeful, He pours out His love on all of us even if it might seem wasteful.
And aren’t you glad? Every now and then in the middle of a patch of weeds, or even pushing up through rock and concrete, a seed will reach for the sky and bloom. Sometimes even bear fruit. Some of us had hearts like that. We weren’t the obvious ones who were ready to receive the Gospel. We had hearts full of the weed of sin. We were ready to give way under the heat of persecution. We were shallow. Yet against the odds the love of God bloomed in our hearts. Thank God for His extravagant waste.
But if that is true, aren’t we called to follow in His footsteps? That is, after all, what it means to be a disciple. We follow. While we ought to check our own hearts to make sure its rich soil for the Gospel, we are also asked to look at how we sow the seeds of the Good News. Do we only invite those to church whom we think will say yes to us? Or heaven help us only ask those who “fit in” with us? Are we sharing the love of Jesus with those we think will reject Him? Do we love those who turn their back on God? Do we look at everyone, no matter their struggles, as someone Jesus died for? Do we tell them?
This week you’ll come across every single type of soil Jesus describes. Sometimes you’ll find more than one soil in a single heart. Will you sow the seeds? Will you sow the seeds in glorious, wasteful extravagance? WIll you follow the sower?
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><