My favorite language when I was younger was storytelling. It was like I was experiencing concepts and experiences outside of what my brain could grasp at the time, each book yielding a connection and understanding between me and the author. For example, courage was translated through A Bad Case of Stripes, gratitude through Good Night Moon, and imagination through Where the Wild Things Are. Similarly, Jesus’ teachings were given to us through story. In the coming weeks, we will spend time with these stories, starting with The Sower and the Seed.
What really caught my eye about this chapter is Jesus explaining why He teaches in parables. Why? For two reasons, to conceptualize how He wants to live our lives and also to give us the free will in deciding how we take that path. The idea is to look at our lives with a Kingdom mindset. What does that mean? It means we embrace our identity as children of God by listening to His voice, loving others, and laying down our lives as Christ did. These concepts might be easy to take in, but difficult to live out as God calls us to. Therefore, Jesus takes worldly items and frames them in a way that forces us to think outside of our worldview and into His.
However, His word is only simplified if the person taking in the parable is willing to understand it. This is where The Sower and the Seed plays in. This parable talks about a sower planting seeds and where they land. Some beside the road, some in rocky places, some in thorns, and some in good soil. Initially, I thought the main message focused on the location of the seed and how the fault lied in where it landed. I thought about it a lot, because we have no choice as to where we are put in life, nor the conditions we are given, so it would be sort of messed up if that was what dictates what our lives would be like.
That, thank goodness, was not what was intended in the parable. Each seed and its outcome represented what happens to many people when on their faith journey.
The seeds besides the path being eaten up by birds is referring to those who hear God’s word, but do not receive it. Immediately taken away by worldly desires left no room for accepting what God had to say, so the ‘birds’ gobbled them up quick and fast.
The seeds in rocky places grew with little soil, but were burned by the sun when sprouted a tiny bit. Little soil mimics initial enthusiasm. Yes! I love Jesus! Screaming loudly, yet feels bored when what is being screamed is no longer fun. People can feel burned out when trying to pursue something they no longer have admiration for.
The seeds in thorns getting choked up shows those who hear the word, but cannot let go of their material desires. Don’t get me wrong, it is beyond difficult to let go of things that are only of the world because these are what you can see and feel. How does Jesus do such a great job of using his teaching format to make this seem so easy? I wrestle with this seed a lot because I feel scared that this is the one that I will be. Will I get swept away by the same things that grew me? Will I listen and comprehend God’s word, but lack that last bit of understanding, which will make me choose materials over Him?
Finally, the seed in the good soil. Able to listen, comprehend, and follow God’s word righteously which lets it produce crop. This is the seed that ultimately shows why some people find Jesus’ parables complicated. Jesus keeps it simple, but He knows not everyone will like what they hear and there will even be some who willfully misunderstand. These stories are full on mumbo jumbo for those who choose not to take Jesus at His word. Without faith, I would think that Jesus is just teaching me how to be a gardener instead of starting a blog exploring each parable. This is the beauty in His teaching: the free will to choose if we want to understand His parables or not.
This parable is one I go to a lot because my initial view of it was that I HAVE to be the seed in good soil at ALL times. That my only story can be that seed because I can only grow up in one place. But as I reflect on it more, my faith journey is not limited to one story, because why would Jesus give us more parables when this one pretty much sums it up? I learned that sometimes I will be the seed beside the road, or the seed in rocky places, or the seed in thorns, but I pray and pray that one day I’ll be confident in seeing myself as the seed in good soil.