Jesus’ parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23 is probably so familiar to most of us that we have trouble hearing it properly. One of the best ways to freshen up an old story is to try telling it to someone, in your own words – then go back, and check how well you went. Did you remember all four types of soil? Did you get them in the right order? What did Jesus say when the disciples asked, why did he keep telling parables? What exactly did Jesus say the seeds represented? And the types of soil?
A parable is a story that can be true, or it can be made up; but either
way, it contains a truth about something else. Jesus often uses parables to
describe things to do with the Kingdom of God, and you have probably been
told by someone, sometime that he used stories about everyday matters to
help people understand. But Jesus says, that’s not at all the reason. He
used stories about everyday matters to engage their interest; but the
stories were a kind of judgement.
The way the different soils reacted to the seed was a picture of how
different people reacted to Jesus’ stories. Some of them simply didn’t get
it. It was as if they had never heard them at all. Some of them thought
Jesus was wonderful. But they didn’t do the extra work of developing a deep
understanding or commitment, so as soon as they experienced any kind of
opposition, their faith shrivelled up and died. Some people committed
themselves to following Jesus’ teaching, but after a while, life got busy,
and in the process of trying to juggle everything, something had to give,
and it was following Jesus. But some people heard Jesus’ stories, and they
understood what he was saying; and in them, the message flourished, and it
produced a huge crop – maybe even a hundred times what it started out as, or
sixty, or thirty times as much.
The challenge for us is to ask, what sort of soil am I? How have I reacted
to hearing Jesus message about the kingdom? And what exactly is the crop
that I am producing?