“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
At the beginning of Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus tells the crowd, The Parable of the Sower. If you like, go to your Bible, either book or online, and read the parable. I’ll continue assuming that you are familiar with it. And if you are familiar with the parable, then I am going to assume you are also familiar with the explanation that Jesus gave to his disciples as referenced in the beginning of this post.
I’ve read this parable and explanation many times and I’m pretty sure I learned about it when I was a child attending Sunday school. I probably sat through a couple of sermons about this story as well. And I’d probably have a better recollection of the lessons if I hadn’t been in contests with my friend to see who could fit the most gum in their mouth. Sunday morning sermons in the Lutheran Church weren’t exactly riveting entertainment for a 12 year old boy.
I think we all understand the explanation that Christ gives his disciples in verses 18 through 23. But this time, after reading these verses I have come to an even better understanding.
Faith is an easy thing to conceive, but to hold, maintain and grow, well that’s another story.
Christ tells of those who hear but do not understand. Christ talks about those who receive the word and realize the joy it can bring but, like other things in their life, when they realize it takes work and discipline, they just let it go and look for another quick fix. Christ tells us of those who put in the work but cannot separate themselves from the desires of the world. And finally he talks of the one who hears, understands and allows it to be rooted in their soul.
So perhaps all those years when I was bored and mischievous in church, Christ and God were sowing the seeds. I guess it was in good soil, but unlike seeds in a garden which sprout in a few days, these seeds laid dormant until the conditions were right for growth.
All that’s good, but what I really wanted to write about was the other explanation that my eyes were opened to this time, when I read these verses.
Christ is stressing the individual. This is not about groups, organizations, or race, it’s about the individual. Each individual is responsible for the growth of their faith and commitment to righteousness.
When anyONE hears the word…….
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the ONE…..
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the ONE…..
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the ONE…
In each instance, Christ is addressing the individual and saying you, the one, are responsible for your faith. If you hear and do not understand you are responsible to learn and understand. If you hear and understand but don’t work at it, you are responsible for your laziness and lack of discipline. If you hear, understand and are willing to work but choose not forsake worldly desires and abandon righteousness, then you are responsible. You made that decision.
If you hear, understand and choose to work and seek righteousness, you will bear fruit. This is our individual gift from God.
I do hope I have been sown in good soil.
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