Sunday Gathered Worship, July 16, 2017
By Elizabeth Dede
The parable of the Sower and the Seed might very well be the most well-known of Jesus’ stories. I remember learning the parable in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. It’s not a parable that makes us wonder about its meaning like the one about the overseer who has been cooking the books. What did Jesus mean when he praised that man and said, “Make for yourselves friends with unrighteous Mammon?” In the parable of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus even gives an explanation to his disciples so that there cannot be any confusion.
Sometimes Jesus’ parables are just downright confusing, and we might say that the disciples’ question, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” is a good one. Why did Jesus use parables?
Well, there are some easy answers: the parables use images that are familiar. Here at Koinonia in rural Southwest Georgia, we understand about seeds falling on hard clay that are there for the birds to gobble up. We know about the scorching sun that burns up little seedlings. We see kudzu grow even while we’re standing there watching. We know about weeds.
Sometimes, though the parables are confusing. No matter how straightforward the parable of the mustard seed seems to be, I’m still not sure about it. Mustard seeds are just not the smallest of seeds, and mustard plants are not the tallest of trees. So that imagery just doesn’t work for me.
Is it possible that Jesus meant for his words to have some meaning that would be known only to those who were given the gift of understanding? I think so.
You can just listen to the parable of the Sower and the Seed as a nice agrarian tale. But you have to have ears to hear if you want to know what Jesus is talking about. And that’s the message of the parable.
If you’re hard of hearing, then the Word will just fall on the hard path where it gets snatched away by other things that make more noise. If you’re looking for the smooth and easy way, then the Word won’t be able to establish roots because there is no easy way to follow Jesus. If you get all tangled up in the worries of life, then the Word will be choked off by concerns other than life with Jesus. But if you have an open and well-nourished heart, then the Word will spring up, take root, and flourish in your life.
We are blessed to live with this Word so open to us. We can hear these stories with the gift and understanding of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection told to us by the Gospel writers, by the Apostles, by the early Christians, and by all the faithful down through the ages.
Like Simeon, many longed to see the face of Jesus before they died. Simeon saw the salvation of the Lord, but many didn’t. They longed to see and hear, but they didn’t.
So let us be thankful for the words of the Gospel. Let us listen to them attentively each day. Let us see them at work in the lives of people all around us. And let us work hard to put them into practice.