If you grew up going to Sunday School or Bible Camp, you probably are familiar with the Parable of the Sower. Like most of the Parables, it’s full of imagery that makes it ripe for retelling. And, like most Bible stories, you can find something different in it each time you hear it. The Parable of the Sower was in our liturgy readings a few weeks ago, and during her sermon my priest challenged us to look at it from perspectives that I hadn’t considered before.
The Parable Of The Sower
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
~ Matthew 13: 3-9
In Sunday School, we focused on the explanation found in Matthew 13: 19- 23.
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
As a child, I read this explanation through a lens of self-righteousness, assuring myself that I was good soil who took God’s Word to heart and would bear fruit of good deeds and loving kindness. As I grew older and wiser, I realized that my faith wasn’t immune from being snatched away or choked by the worries of the world, but I still found that it was planted deeply enough to withstand life’s trials.
The Indiscriminate Sower
Until this summer, I’ve never stopped to consider what this parable might tell us about God. If God is the sower, what does it mean that God scatters his seed willy-nilly? What kind of God tosses seeds of love and forgiveness in places where they aren’t likely to take root? Places where they may be carried away, die off, or choked out? What kind of God sows His crop not only where there is good soil, but also where there are rocks and weeds?
Thinking about the Parable of the Sower this way, I am faced with God’s abundant, generous and indiscriminate love.
God doesn’t save His Grace for the best of us. God doesn’t even wait until we are at our best–fully weeded, fertilized and tilled–before He trusts us with His gifts. God showers us with love and calls us to bear fruit no matter how many rocks and weeds are cluttering our fields.
Thinking about the Parable of the Sower this way, I am overcome with gratitude. How blessed are we that God gives so freely! How blessed are we that we can experience Hope even if it seems to be fleeting and snatched away. How blessed are we that God keeps planting Faith in us, even if withers away time after time. How blessed are we that God keeps calling us to do good works, even if we keep getting distracted by our own priorities. How blessed are we that God finds good soil deep within us, and plants his Love where it can sustain us through challenging times.
Do you have a favorite Parable?