Todayís lesson is about a man who thinks he is a sower, but is he?† But he makes no preparation, simply a man flinging seeds around, everywhere.† Not efficient, smart or productive.† And that is not the way it was done in the time of Jesus either.† There were things a farmer did to prepare his fields first.† You picked up as many of the rocks as possible and you stacked them in rows at the edge of your field.† You pulled out the weeds, scratched up the hard ground.
But in our parable the field has not been prepared.† Rocks, hard paths and thorny weeds remain unmitigated.† If those things were taken care of before sowing, the seed very likely would find good soil and grow.† But this sower did not do that, he simply goes out and stars to flinging seeds.
I think everyone who heard the parable would have recognized the difference between the parable and the usual practice right away.† Jesus told parable because in his own words people see but do not perceive, they hear but do not understand.† They canít see or hear because they think they already know it all.† Jesus tells us the story of the sower flinging his seed any old where to make a point.
It is the same point that is made in the parable of the prodigal son and the Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan.† We love these stories so much that we perhaps no longer are shocked by them.† Shepherds never abandoned 99 sheep to look for one lost.† That would be a waste.† There were no good Samaritans, they were enemy heretics.† In the Prodigal son it is not so surprising that a son would waste his fatherís money.† What is surprising is that the father welcomes the son home so freely after.† From the perspective of the older son, the father was the one who was prodigal, displaying behavior that is characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure.† The father was prodigal in wasting love on a good for nothing son.†
I think therein lies the main point of todayís parable.† The sower is prodigal also, he seemingly wastes his seed on soil that isnít going to produce much if anything.† Jesus has no interest in farming so this is told only to help us see and understand Godís kingdom.† This parable helps us unlearn myths about God so that we can properly learn about the real God, Jesusí father.
We need to forget the old gods before we can know Jesusí father.† We tend to think in terms of human kingdoms and we donít understand that Godís kingdom is totally different.† For example the most precious thing in Godís kingdom is forgiveness.† There is an unlimited supply of it so that there is always more than enough of it for everybody and God can afford to sow it everywhere, because there is no danger of his running out of it.
I always used to think that this parable was about me.† I always tried to figure out what kind of ground that I was.† Or to put it another way I wondered about what kind of ground I was on with God.† How many birds were in my field, how many rocks and how many thorns?† I used to worry about how I could clean them all up, how I could turn myself into a well-tilled, well-weeded, well-fertilized field for the sowing of Godís word in my life.† I worried about the 3 to 1 odds against me.† I thought about how I could beat the odds by cleaning up myself.† But that is not the right way to read todayís lesson because if it were the parable would be called the parable of different kinds of ground.
This parable is not all about us, but we often see it that way because we think we are so important.† This story isnít about you or me but it is about the sower.† It is about a sower who does not care about success or failure because he uses a different metric.† It is rather about an extravagant God who flings seed everywhere even wastefully.† By a God who is confident that there is an everlasting amount seed to go around and that when the harvest comes that every barn will be filled to the rafters.
If the parable is about the sower and not about the different kinds of ground then the focus is not on us and our shortfalls but on the generosity of our creator, the prolific sower who does not care about the condition of the fields but flings the seed everywhere, on good soil and bad.† Jesus teaches us that his Father is not cautious or judgmental or even practical, but instead he willingly keeps reaching into his seed bag for all eternity covering the whole creation with the seed of his truth.
This harvest began on Easter without any help from us.† God raised the seed of Jesus death to bear the fruit of new life.† God is so prodigal with new life and forgiveness that it is beyond any expectation and beyond our understanding.† The harvest that results from Jesusí sowing is plentiful.† Even our hard heartedness and stubbornness canít stop it.† God had to be that prodigal in his sowing.† He had to be willing to give away his entire self, because the world had become so tamped down and rocky and overgrown with weeds.†
You and I might have given up with a field so overgrown and rocky, but not God, he doesnít give up on us.† It is not our hold on God that matters, not our faith in God that saves, but Godís hold on us, and Godís faith in us, that is the good news of the Kingdom.
We each need to give up what we think we know so that we can know what God knows.† We have to stop judging who good soil is and who rocky ground is.† Godís love belongs to everyone.† God has sown his abundant love even into our rocky hearts and it has begun to bear the fruit of new life in us.† God today asks us to do as he does.† Sow the seeds of love to all, to everybody, as he has done with us.† Our calling is to become Godís prodigal church.
1. What does the parable ask us to unlearn about God?
2. If forgiveness is the most valuable thing: what does it say about our concepts of abundance and scarcity?
3. How do we live out lives in Christís love amid a world of rocks and stones?