Again he [Jesus] began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundred-fold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
To the saints who serve God as disciples in Jesus’ name in First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant,
We’ve been working our way through parables in the Gospel of Luke. Mark,the Gospel considered by most Bible students to be the earliest of the Gospels (of those we have in the Bible), places the Parable of the Sower as the first parable told. In this way Mark signals that this is the defining parable of all such stories Jesus tells, a story Luke and Matthew also incorporated into their Gospels.
Given that the emphasis of the story is on the seeds, what meaning should be made of the “seeds”? One answer, which illustrates allegory, is given in Mark 4.13-20: each of the “seeds” and the “soil” in which they “fall” is given a meaning. Another way is to reflect on what the story shares. Jesus uses the metaphor of a farmer sowing seeds from a pouch on his or her hip, broadcasting the seeds upon the ground. The ground would then be turned over, and the seeds would be “planted” in the soil (contrary to farming in our country when the ground is prepared before the seed is sown). This is why seeds fall onto different “soils”. Jesus thus encourages his disciples to keep “sowing”, to keep at the practice of discipleship, remembering that the story illustrates end stress: the story culminates at its end.
What might we understand from this story? Jesus implies that it’s the sower’s work to sow seeds, not to assume responsibility for the outcome. That, Jesus implies, is God’s work, for it is God’s environment (the soil) into which the seed is entrusted. We’re nearly to the end of another church year as well as another calendar year. What does the year past look like for you? What are your hopes for the year ahead? We are at an important juncture in the life of this congregation with the search for the next pastor expected to culminate soon. While that decision waits to be shared, and even after that decision is shared, the encouragement of Jesus is for us to “keep sowing” trusting that in doing so “seeds” will find abundant soil, that God in the name of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit will provide an abundant harvest in the end.
Thank you for the privilege of being your temporary supply pastor. May this find you doing the best you can in all that you do with all you have, given God’s help, amidst the challenges & comforts that come your way.
Be Well… Timm