Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-23
This weeks reflections focus on the Parables of Jesus which form a substantial part of His recorded teaching. Jesus spoke a great deal in parables to put across His points to those listening. He made them specific to the common culture, norms and situation of the time He was in so those listening would understand the context, though He did state that many would hear but understand.
Parables are short stories which teach a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus cleverly designed them to draw listeners into new ways of thinking, to develop new attitudes and new ways of acting. However, as I have said, many people did not grasp the meaning of what He was saying and Jesus said it was because of their ‘hardness of heart’ (pride, arrogance and prejudice) that they were prevented from understanding and accepting His teachings.
By nature, a parable invites the reader or listener to supply the interpretation, and though difficult to interpret the meaning is often clear in most cases. Even Jesus’ enemies often understood His parables, although they didn’t accept the lesson taught. So it led me to think what a modern day parable might look like – what lessons could we reveal about wearing face masks or social distancing in present times? Perhaps you could write your own? I’ll have a go at writing one at the end of the week.
But today I want to focus on the Parable of the Sower.
The Kingdom of God is central to Jesus’ teachings. Matthew speaks about it as “the Kingdom of Heaven.” In the parable of the sower Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed planted in the hearts of men and women. Each of us has the seed of the kingdom within us but it will only grow if we nurture it – give it proper care and feeding.
Matt.13:3-9 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell amongst the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Jesus doesn’t offer an explanation of this to the people but He does go on to tell His disciples the meaning in verses 18-23.
So what is the meaning and significance of this parable to us today?
There are many ways of responding to God’s Word. Some people hear it but reject it, some may accept it but not act on it, while others hear it and embrace it and use it to shape their lives and all they do.
Just as the farmer scatters seed throughout his field, so God gives His Word to the entire world.
Just as the seed cannot take root on the trampled and hardened path, God’s Word is rejected by people having hearts hardened by pride and hatred.
Just as the seed that falls on shallow soil wilts in the sun, some people have shallow faith. The roots don’t go deep enough. They are enthusiastic about God’s Word until it becomes inconvenient and makes demands of them, then they fall away.
Just as the seed that falls among the thorns is crowded out, God’s Word can be crowded out by worries and pursuit of wealth.
Just as the seed that falls on good soil yields a bountiful crop, so God’s Word is fruitful in people who listen, understand and obey. The Kingdom of god yields great results in and through these people.
The lesson here, in this parable, is telling us we must hear, accept AND then act on God’s Word.
How can you act on His Word today?