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.”
Jesus Explains the Story
(Matthew 13.18-23; Luke 8.11-15)
13Jesus then told them:
If you don't understand this story, you won't understand any others. 14What the farmer is spreading is really the message about the kingdom. 15The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But Satan soon comes and snatches it away from them. 16The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it at once. 17But they don't have roots, and they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
18The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. 19But they start worrying about the needs of this life. They are fooled by the desire to get rich and to have all kinds of other things. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 20The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and welcome the message. They produce 30 or 60 or even 100 times as much as was planted.
Hear and welcome. That’s what the people of the good ground do, those seeds that fell, grew, bloom and spread.
So, how do we hear and welcome God’s call on our lives? And God’s word in our lives?
Part of the answer is found in Jesus’ patient explanation of this parable to his disciples, about what happened to the other seeds that were sown.
This is a cautionary tale.
The seeds that fall along the road are snatched away by Satan. There is something about being on the side of the road that is clearly not conducive to growth. The side of the road is nowhere for a seed that wants to grow to be.
We can probably all think of times and places where we were vulnerable to temptation, to making horrible mistakes because it felt good at the time, and vulnerable to evil. Are we on the side of the road? How can we avoid those places where Satan can snatch us away?
The seeds in the rocky ground gladly hear, accept right away, but don’t put down roots. Trouble comes. They go. We have probably all gone through rootless times in our lives when we did not focus on God, did not study his word, or spend time with other believers. When bad times came, our weakness became apparent. How can we make sure we put down roots?
And the seed among the thorns is choked by worry, ambition and focused on self. It is the seed of distraction. A distracted seed does not grow. How do we focus in on God’s word and fellowship with other Christians, confessing our worries to him and others when appropriate?
In this passage, the cautions are many.
But, the remedy seems simple.
Hear and welcome.
And then watch what happens.
We thank you God that you show us so clearly what we need to do. Help us hear. Help us welcome. Thank you that even those actions, hearing and welcoming, are gifts of your Holy Spirit. Please give them to us again now. In Jesus name, Amen.