Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Matthew 13:10, ESV)
Bent. Bermuda. Rye. Zoysia. Four golf course grass seeds that grow and thrive in specific environments, each producing a different golf experience. Bermuda is my least favorite, due to its entangling blades of unpredictability and lack of control.
Did you know that Jesus’ Parable of the Sower is not about the sower, but about four different soils: the path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil? Each soil will control how a seed takes root.
Parables are hard to understand; even the disciples questioned why Jesus spoke in parables. A parable is a short story or saying composed as a metaphor that uses some element of everyday life to present a moral or spiritual lesson. Using parables to teach was common in ancient rabbinic literature to help the listener become more attuned to the heart and mind of the rabbi. Jesus crafted his parables to reveal new ways of understanding the coming of the kingdom of God.
The Parable of the Sower is one that sets the stage for all of his other parables. The majority of the people in the Galilee region were peasant farmers and would have picked up immediately on the imagery Jesus used in his story. The rocky ground created a boundary that separated individual fields, and since this area did not get tilled, it generated thorns. The path was nestled between the rocky ground where the farmers walked along the edge of their fields. The good soil was the field itself.
Understanding the natural context of this parable helps us to see how these four soils are referencing four different hearts of Jesus’ listeners. The question hanging in the air then, is what kind of soil are you? Are you the most desired one—the good soil?
Good soil bears good fruit and high yields, even up to a hundredfold. It is where the Lord blesses (Genesis 26:12) and where we are to take responsibility to till the field of our hearts to receive his seeds and not remain rocky, thorny soil.
This preparation work is not a one-time experience. Just like the ancient farmers had to remove rocks yearly, we too will experience the ongoing, active process of removing rocks from our hearts.
Before we begin removing rocks that surface in our hearts, we must ask, “What is the state of my heart?” Which one of the four soils am I? Doing the work to remove the rocks takes time, effort, and kindness. Naming the rock for what it is begins the tilling process, loosening up the dirt for its removal. Some rocks we can move on our own and for some we need to ask for help. Repair is possible when we allow others to see us, to know us, and to carry the burden together.
I have rocks in my heart. Some are new and others are of old. I will choose once again today to keep tilling my soil. I want the Lord’s seed to take root and bear good fruit beyond my imagination. Will you join me?
September 26, 2019
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