What do you know about sowing seeds? Not much? Don’t need to know?
For a rural community living off their crops, sowing was absolutely essential for survival. The mere act of sowing brought hope – that this would be a fruitful harvest.
Jesus’ story, however, gives a warning. A seed can’t mature into fruit without the proper conditions for growth.
The prophet Jeremiah gave similar advice several hundred years earlier: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jer. 4:3).
What’s the point of this story?
Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at everyone: the people who listen, and even those who don’t.
The idea is that there are different ways of hearing God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit:
Working too hard to have time to hear God’s word
There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable, and blind to the things of God.
Then there is the shallow hearer who fails to think things through; such a person lacks spiritual depth. They may respond at first with emotional fervor, but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is always too busy to pray or too preoccupied to meditate on God’s word. They may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but work.
Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand.
Wheat, planted by the farmer, and the common weed tares, bane of a farmer’s life in ancient Israel. Which are you?
Meditating on the story
The messages in Jesus’ parables have the power to change us, to make us more like him and more like the selves we want to be. By ourselves, we are lost. But finding Jesus, we find ourselves.
We can’t do it alone, but we can do it with God’s help.
Read the parable of the Sower below, then listen in your heart for God’s message. God will give you the wisdom to hear and understand his transforming word, and the strength to live according to it.
The Bible text: Luke 8:4-15
Parable of the Sower: a thorn bush
4 And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable:
5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
8 And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant,
10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.
13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
A woman sifting seed to separate edible grain from weeds
Bible Meditations and Reflections: Finding Hope in God