Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Parable of the Sower

Hear the Word of the Lord:

The Gospel of Matthew 13:1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear."

10The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

11He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them'" (ESV).

Thanks be to God.

I'm studying this psg in my devotional time, and I am struck by the sheer Romans 9, 10, and 11 of it. It is obvious that God is more in charge of the seed-planting and fruit-bearing process than I usually think He is. It is a terrible temptation to break evangelism and sharing the Word of the Lord w/ people down to me, the naked text (there is a God, you are a sinner, Jesus died for you, etc.), and the other person - will they buy it or not? Yet let's just look at the 1st case.
Looking at the interp given by Christ later in the chapter in regard to the seeds that fell along the path and were eaten by the birds, He says:

19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

So Satan is the birds that eat the Word. Why does the enemy not succeed in taking away every seed that is sown? Wouldn't he really really like to? But God stops him sometimes, yet not all the time. Why? I'm not sure - it obviously serves His purpose somehow.
The funny thing is that this whole situation is the parable itself in action. Note how Christ talks to the people in parables, and the disciples are naturally curious as to why. I didn't at first notice that they were confused and it didn't make sense, but that's b/c I've been exposed to this most of my life - familiarity breeds contempt for a sinful man.
So the Parable of the Sower, by itself, is apocryphal - we are not meant to understand it. Apart from its interp, it could very well be many things, not necessarily a metaphor for the way people accept the Gospel. Yet Christ intentionally and explicitly makes it known only to a few. Why? So that the rest of the people will remain in the darkness and hard-heartedness in which they live. It is not their time to hear clearly the Word. So what did Christ the Sower do? He tossed some seeds to the path (the people) and to the rocky places (Judas) and perhaps to the thorns (can't think of anyone right now who would match them, sorry), and to the good soil (the Eleven).
Perhaps later the meaning will become clearer to those from whom Satan snatched the seed, but not now. God will decide when. Far be it from the text to teach a God-allows-no-choice-in-the-matter paradigm, but God clearly does limit choices and opportunities for certain people at certain times.

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