It’s harvest time. Why are you writing about the Parable of the Sower? Simple. Without the sowing, there is no harvest.
You probably will never meet anyone as averse to gardening as the author of this column. Aside from detesting the idea of planting, weeding and harvesting a garden, I have a black thumb.
Black thumb, what’s that? The opposite of a green thumb. Green-thumbed individuals can make the desert bloom. A cactus can’t survive under the care of a black-thumbed person. I know. I’ve killed a few dozen of those prickly specimen in my time.
Thankfully, in the field Jesus speaks about in this parable, a black thumb doesn’t hinder anything.
“Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold and some thirtyfold” (Matthew 13:3-8).
Some of Jesus’ parables can be confusing to those of us living two thousand years away from the culture in which they made complete sense. That’s not the case for this parable. Jesus explained each element to his disciples.
In this parable “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). If we are to be sowers, we must spread this seed.
It’s obvious from the parable that the sower tossed out the seed indiscriminately. We should do the same, spreading God’s word wherever we go and to whomever will listen.
From the wording, it is clear the sower intended to plant the seed. He “went forth to sow” (Matt. 13:3) and in Luke he “went out to sow his seed.” As children of the kingdom, we should set out to sow the seed of the Gospel every day.
Jesus mentions four types of ground where the seed of His word might fall. In order to avoid discouragement, we need to understand the signs from each type. They are the same ones we will encounter during our sowing expeditions.
- “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). These people seem to listen but our enemy distracts them before they can accept Christ.
- The stony places describe those that hear and joyfully receive the word yet aren’t fully rooted. These “dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by his I offended” (Matt. 13:21). We all know these kind of people who accept Christ and serve with fire for a time. Then something happens and they walk away with hurt feelings.
- The seed that falls among thorns represents a hearer who lets “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life” take precedence over doing God’s work and they “bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). At times, I have been this person: too caught up in my own life to consider spreading Jesus’ love to others.
- We hope to find the fourth type: the good ground. The people who “having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Once they are saved, these people get right to work sowing the seed, yearning to produce fruit for their savior.
All who know Christ as savior and have experienced the riches of God’s grace should step into the field. They can sow seed by sharing their testimony of salvation.
Too many people think they have to memorize a bunch of Bible verses, take some sort of soul-winning class and be a church member for years before they can be an effective witness. This is a falsehood of our enemy. He wants to keep us from spreading the seed.
Notice that the sower in Jesus’ parable had only one responsibility: spread the seed.
This is my kind of gardening. This guy just tossed the seed in every direction. Hey, even a black-thumber can fling seeds around.
When sharing the gospel, we aren’t responsible for tilling the ground, fertilizing, weeding, watering or even harvesting. God handles all of those things in the realm of spiritual husbandry.
So easy and yet…when was the last time I spread one little seed anywhere?
Be a sower. Share the good news of salvation. Let God do the back-breaking work. Sow in tears: reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).
Next week: What the Parable of the Sower doesn’t Say