My Pastor preached a sermon on the Parable of the Sower, and applied it to those of us who are already Christians, rather than the usual application for evangelism. I personally found it a wake-up call.
At the end of Matthew chapter 12, Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Since chapter 13 starts with “That same day” it is possible that he was still speaking of those who do his Father’s will. In any case, the lessons we can draw by applying it to ourselves are valid and worthwhile.
The sower sows the seed, and it falls on four different kinds of ground. If we consider the ground to be us, this shows us the importance of our response to what we hear. What is your response to the sermons you hear on Sundays and the scripture you read during the week?
A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them… When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
Do we feel that we have heard it all before and take no notice? Especially if the passage under discussion is a familiar one (like the parable of the sower). Or we are distracted, and not paying attention. I realised that many times I read my scriptures in a rush to get on and do other things. Our heart becomes hard, like well-trodden earth. The word is heard but the heart does not respond.
Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away… As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
We lead such busy lives that we don’t take the time to ponder on the word and let it take root. We receive the word with joy on Sunday but lose it on Monday, when we have to think about work and school and housework. There is no chance for the word to be established in our lives. It does not root in our heart and transform us.
Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them… As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
What we allow to grow up around us, in our cares in the world can choke our growth as Christians. Our experience on Sunday depends on what we do on Saturday. Maybe we need to get to bed earlier in order to be fresh on Sunday morning. The word and our devotional life do not have a high enough priority in our life, and get crowded out by all the other things we try to do.
The Good Soil
Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty… As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
The word bears fruit when it is understood. Notice there is no criticism of the smaller yields, only rejoicing that there is fruit. However much fruit you can bear, if you are receiving the word and letting it root in you, it is enough. So this is how we should receive the word:
1. Listen. Pay attention. Make sure you know what is being said (or read).
2. Sift. Work out how the word applies to you and how you should respond.
3. Act. As the word transforms us, our lives change, and will also impact the lives of others.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.
Hear then the parable of the sower.
[based on a sermon by Pastor Pete Orphan, Pantygwydr Baptist Church]