What I’m Thinking: In the Soil

We usually call it “the Parable of the Sower,” but what makes the difference in the story is the soil.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). It begins with a story that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all seem to believe defined Jesus’ story-telling ministry. We call it the Parable of the Soil.

I tent to think of it, however, as the Parable of the Soils, because in the course of the story it is the soil that makes the difference.

Seed falls upon a path, and on that hard-packed ground, birds come along and eat it before it can sprout. Seed falls in rocky ground, but there’s not enough root, and so the sun comes along and it is scorched. Seed falls in thorns, and the weeds choke it. Seed falls in good soil, and there it grows to incredible amounts: a hundred-fold, sixty-fold, thirty fold. These are, in fact, crop yields that no first century farmer would ever have obtained.

For Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this is a difficult parable to understand. They all portray the disciples coming to Jesus later and asking him to explain it. And the explanation, to me, does not seem all that complicated. The explanation almost seems unnecessary. That if you don’t receive the word, then it will be snatched away; if you don’t let the word of God take root, then it will be scorched; if the word is choked out by other cares, concerns, or, I suppose, pleasures and distractions, well, then there’s that.

The surprise in all this is, in fact, the extraordinary yields which happen when the word takes root and sprouts and grows.

This is, I think, the kernel, the seed, but also the stalk and the root and the fruit of this parable. The distractions are distractions. Shallowness is shallowness. Refusal is refusal. What is special is the extraordinary growth of the word of God.

That, I think, is Jesus’ point, that our goal in life is to be a place in which the love, the care, the compassion, the direction, the grace of God can set deep roots, can send up tall stalks, can bear extraordinary fruit.

The good news is any of us can be that place for God’s love to grow. The good news is that God’s love showers down upon us all the time. The sower has never ceased to spread those seeds of grace. The sower has never ceased to fill us with love.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on July 6, 2020

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