4 August 2015

Luke 8:4-15

“A sower went out to sow his seed” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 61


Modern farming methods ensure that seeds are sown only where the farmer intends they will grow, in carefully prepared soil. Even at the time of Jesus, when seeds would have been precious, a good farmer would never have just tossed seed among rocks or on hard baked ground. The point Jesus is making in this parable is that God is not an efficient farmer. God just keeps on sowing the seeds of the gospel (good news of Jesus) in even the most inhospitable places. No farmer would ever do this, but God can do no other because God is gracious and God's greatest desire is that people want to be in relationship, so God just goes on throwing out the seed.

When we read this story we usually focus on what happens to the seed rather than on the action of the sower, but the sower really is the key to understanding this parable. The story is directed towards people who are 'sowers'. God is the primary sower, but the disciples have accepted the commission to join with Jesus in spreading the word of God to "all nations" (Matthew 28:16-20) so it is their job to make sure the soil is well prepared and the seeds are sown.

The disciples are given the meaning of the parable (verses 11-15), not because they are superior to the crowd who heard the story, but so that they can be responsible for those who have no other way of hearing the gospel. This is a parable for the sowers who are encouraged to prepare the ground as well as they can, but then trust in the generosity of God and watch with delight as God's word takes root in people and places we would never have thought possible. We would never throw the seed without looking where it is going to land. We would make sure it was thrown only to people like us. How different our careful, defensive, well-managed mission strategies are from God's generous randomness.

To Ponder

  • Where is God generously sowing seed in your community?
  • How can you help these seeds to flourish? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.