13 July 2014Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23
“Other seed fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” (v. 9)
The Parable of the Sower is one of the better known parables. Reading it as an allegory, with the different types of ground on which the seed falls representing the varied responses that people make to 'the seed of the gospel' (ie the good news about Jesus), has been popular since the days of the early Church. There will be insights for us in going down that path, looking at how our own responses to what we understand as the seed of the gospel have been like the seeds falling on various types of ground. It's possible to look at our lives over time and see ourselves behaving like different types of ground at various times in our lives.
However, there's another route for our thinking that may be closer to the original telling of the parable. Suppose the parable was told, as others were, with the punchline at the end and in order to illicit a change of mind and heart in the hearer. A clue to reading it like this lies in understanding the normal farming practice in Jesus' day.
The standard practice was, unlike our gardening, to scatter seeds over the whole area and then plough the seed in as the ground, whatever its complexion, was turned over. What might we then see in the surprise of a harvest, thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold from such a very unlikely field?
Also, without the sowing there can, of course, be no harvest.
- What might the broadcast method of sowing with seed going on all sorts of ground indiscriminately say to you about practical Christianity today? Is there a generosity that appears wasteful?
- The plentiful harvest comes as a wondrous surprise from a field such as this. When were you last surprised by God? What happened?
- And is there an unpromising 'sowing' that, against the likely odds, should be continued?