Scripture: Luke 8:1-15
Key verse: (15) “But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.”
Reflection: The parable of the sower is incredibly frustrating for me. The sower seems so foolish — casting valuable seed in such a haphazard way, scattering it on the path and in the rocks and amidst the thorns and in shallow soil. By dumb luck, some lands in good soil and brings a harvest. Why waste so much seed? Why throw seed on the path in the first place? Who does that? Why not do some weeding before you plant, pull out those thorns and thistles and till the soil? Why not break up that rocky ground and add some fertilizer and top soil and prepare the dirt before you start casting valuable seeds to the wind? What a waste! What kind of farmer would ever be so wasteful?
No wonder the disciples had trouble understanding this parable! They were rural folk who knew a little something about farming. They may have been fishermen, but even they knew you don’t waste seed like that. In a world where too many people are starving, how can the sower be so careless with such valuable resources? In a world of scarce supply and unlimited demand, where the gap between limited resources and insatiable need causes acute pain, the parable of the sower makes no sense. In this world, seeds must be sown very carefully. In this world, scarce resources must be wisely employed, not cast to the winds. That’s the way things work in this world.
But Jesus is not talking about this world, is he? He is not teaching the crowds gathered beside the sea about the harsh realities of market-driven economies. He is not talking about the persistent gap between limited supply and insatiable demand. He is not talking about the pain caused by the ways of this world. He is talking about the Kingdom of God. He is talking about God’s world: a place not defined by limited supply and unending demand; a place where the supply of seeds is never-ending so the Sower need not worry because there is plenty of seed to go around. And the seed that lands in good soil, well, it yields 30 and 60 and 100-fold. It floods the wheat market, so wheat seed becomes dirt cheap.
It starts with a seed. That seed is the Word of God, the Gospel of God’s love for all people made known in Jesus, embodied in his life and witness. There is not scarcity when it comes to this love. God need not conduct a soil test before sowing the seed to consider whether the soil is worthy of being sown, worthy of receiving this love—which is a good thing! God knows I’ve got some rocky patches in the fields of my soul. Maybe you do too. There are some thorns and some briars and a few places that are a bit shallow—Lord, have mercy. But if the seed of God’s love finds that place within us that is good dirt, then by the power of the Holy Spirit, something good can spring forth, yielding a harvest beyond anything we could ever imagine. According to Jesus, that’s the way the kingdom of God works.
And so with the Sower, we keep sowing seeds: the seed of God’s Word, the seed of God’s love, the seed of God’s hope. We keep sowing seeds refusing to give into the despair when they are snatched away or choked by the thorns or whither under the scorching sun because they lack depth. We keep sowing seeds of faith and hope and love trusting in God’s time a harvest of righteousness will spring forth. We keep sowing seeds even as we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer: “Break up the soil of our souls, O God. Pull the weeds of worry that choke out your Word. Dig deep within our hearts that the seed of your Word might take root and yield abundant fruit in our lives for your kingdom. We wait with patient endurance. Amen.”
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].