A Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.1-9; Luke 8.4-8)
1 The next time Jesus taught beside Lake Galilee, a big crowd gathered. It was so large that he had to sit in a boat out on the lake, while the people stood on the shore. 2He used stories to teach them many things, and this is part of what he taught:
3Now listen! A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn't very deep. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have deep roots. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked out the plants. So they did not produce any grain. 8But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants grew and produced 30 or 60 or even 100 times as much as was scattered.
9Then Jesus said, “If you have ears, pay attention.”
Why Jesus Used Stories
(Matthew 13.10-17; Luke 8.9,10)
10When Jesus was alone with the twelve apostles and some others, they asked him about these stories. 11He answered:
I have explained the secret about God's kingdom to you, but for others I can use only stories. 12 The reason is,
“These people will look
and look, but never see.
They will listen and listen,
but never understand.
If they did,
they would turn to God
and be forgiven.”
I always thought I would like gardening. Until I became master over some gardens. Then I quickly realized how labour-intensive it is, how on-your-knees it must be, how the dirt jams in under your fingernails and stays for quite some time. Perhaps because I am not a natural gardener, but a sweaty, hot, grumbling gardener, everything that grows under my imperfect watch is a miracle, worthy of celebration.
Because most things don’t grow at all.
In this well-known parable, a story that Jesus used to tell something about God’s kingdom, we have a gardener who scatters a lot of seeds. Unsuccessfully, in the majority of the cases.
It is only a few seeds that fall on the good ground. But those seeds?
They are unstoppable seeds. They explode with growth. Green bursts through seeds’ walls. Roots stretch. Leaves unfurl. Sun warms. The plant stretches up toward the light. And multiplies. New life is everywhere with those seeds.
Who wouldn’t want to identify with those seeds? With that ground? Burrow our thirsty roots into the healthy part of the garden?
Take a moment to think about the ground of your life. The ground you came from. The soil you have plowed through. If you are normal, there have probably been thin, rocky times. Maybe there were entire years that were dry and scorched? Maybe you fought off birds and stumbled in thorns for far too long?
But here you are today, in rich, good ground, being nurtured, hopefully nurturing others, and thanking the Farmer who planted you exactly where you could bloom.
Loving God, thank you for this parable that tells us that your Kingdom does sprout and multiply, even when the odds seem against it. Your will will be done, on this ground, as it is in heaven. Give us the faith that Jesus says is required to understand this parable, and your Kingdom. Amen.