Matthew 13:23 “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
This is traditionally called “The Parable of the Sower,” and it is labeled as such in the Bible in front of me. However, it would seem to more accurately be called “The Parable of the Soil.” It’s the same sower in each case, and the same seed; what produces the difference is the quality of the soil. The justification for calling it “The Parable of the Sower” is that it is the sower who is desiring a crop; that’s why he’s sowing. If he didn’t want a crop, he wouldn’t be scattering seed. In the interval between speaking the parable and explaining it, (verses 10-17) Jesus makes it clear that his disciples are sowers, because they have been entrusted with “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven,” (verse 11) and in verse 19 He makes it very clear that the seed is the message of the kingdom. One thing we need to be careful to remember is that if the seed isn’t sown, no crop can be expected at all. Those who know about the kingdom of God are responsible to share that knowledge. Whether it will be received or not isn’t their responsibility, but sharing is. The problem is, it doesn’t take many times of being rejected or embarrassed to make us give up sharing! That’s part of the Biblical admonition to “die to self.” When we are focused on how our actions will reflect on us, we won’t be bold in sharing. When we are more worried about whether someone will like us or think well of us than whether that person will go to heaven or hell, we won’t be bold in sharing. The sower should be focused on the magnificence of the seed with which he has been entrusted, and be excited to share it. As we have opportunity, helping prepare the soil is certainly a worthwhile activity. Doing a “data dump” on someone who isn’t ready for it doesn’t produce good results! We certainly need the Lord of the Harvest to give us wisdom in how to sow.
This of course applies to me, and it’s a very timely lesson. Given the time of year, I’ve been getting our garden ready to plant. For a few weeks, actually, I’ve been taking a bucket out and gathering the rocks I could see in the garden area, dumping them outside of it. Then I borrowed a neighbor’s tiller and went over the ground thoroughly. It was shocking how many more rocks I turned up, including some about as big as my head! This is the third year we’ve had that garden, and that was proof that my tilling the previous two years wasn’t deep enough. This year, after two passes with the tiller I scattered composted cow manure, and then went over it a third time. All of that sounds good, but in the end, there were small rocks all over everywhere! I had to go back with the bucket and gather a LOT more rocks! Yesterday one of the church members, who loves this sort of thing, went in and made rows and furrows in about half the area, and I will do the same for the rest. Then it’s planting time! All of this is hard work, but the anticipation of harvest is very motivating. I need to let that carry over more and more into my ministry, being willing to put in the effort to cultivate people, preparing them to receive the Word and supplying it to them in doses they can receive. I’m a bad one for doing data dumps! At the same time, I must remember that I’ve been given good seed, and rejoice to share it so that it may multiply many times over.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You for the many opportunities You give me to share Your Word, formally and informally. Keep me from drawing back at the work or the risks involved, but be a faithful servant, following Your directions on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!