Parable of the Sower

Scattering the seed. This is common enough among the people to be understood as one way to plant a field. Obviously, some seed would be wasted, but it’s hard to say just which seed would take root, so sow generously!

Synoptic versions:

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One Reply to “Parable of the Sower”

  1. At first glance, this is what I thought:

    The crazy farmer takes some desperate action. Instead of carefully working the soil, he simply scatters the seed in all directions.  The agricultural audience that heard Jesus speak this parable must have been chuckling as he shared the story. As in classic humor, woven into the funny story is a truth that penetrates.

    But the NIV Study Bible notes provide this clarification:

    In Eastern practice the seed was sometimes sown first and the field plowed afterward. Roads and pathways went directly through many fields, and the traffic made much of the surface too hard for seed to take root.

    Gulp. I stand corrected. Seems odd to me, but there you have it. The method, of course, is not the point of the parable. Jesus taught in parables in an effort to relate to people and perhaps to give them something to discuss without being religious and therefore immune to persecution. So let’s look at the details first:

    1. Scattering the seed. As the note suggests, this is common enough among the people to be understood as one way to plant a field. Obviously, some seed would be wasted, but it’s hard to say just which seed would take root, so sow generously!
    2. fell along the path. Not likely to work well here. Between the birds and the trampling of feet, there is little hope that this will produce any crops. These are the ones who hear, but Satan immediately takes the Word from their heart. How? Perhaps by distractions, my #1 enemy, or some other temptation. C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters comes to mind or Steven Furtick’s noise from Crash the Chatterbox. In some way, quite personal I’m sure, Satan finds a toe-hold and moves us away.
    3. rocky places…shallow soil.  Ones who hear with joy, believe for a while, but fall away quickly when trials come along. It’s troubling to think about this location because there are really times of great joy that we remember with such fondness. Don’t let this warning dampen your spirits. Sing with joy! Be joyful! We don’t have to be somber all the time, but we must be aware that some joy is not rooted in Christ and therefore will not hold for long.
    4. thorns. Those who hear the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth squelch the one who would believe. The desire for other things, riches and pleasures, keep them from producing fruit. The key word here is desire. In our culture, the quest for the newest, best, shiny thing is constantly in front of us. As I write this blog this morning, Amazon is celebrating Prime Day, an invented day of sales because we always need something new. The constant desire for the next best thing is incredibly distracting, even consuming, for many. Lord, help us to be content!!
    5. good soil. Yet even in the apparent random scattering, some seed takes root in good soil. This reminds me of the wildflowers planted along roadsides as part of the Beautification Act of 1965, inspired by Lady Bird Johnson.

    “In a nutshell, her program is, ‘masses of flowers where masses pass.’ Water, lights and color-mass of flowers-those things spell beautification to her,” Lady Bird wrote in her diary after a meeting.

    The concept is a great metaphor for us to examine. It is my hope that by spreading the Gospel everywhere we go we will create lights and color-mass of the beauty of Christ for the entire world to see.



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