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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 13:1–16 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. (NRSV)

So, there’s this guy, and he has one job. To go sow seeds. Seeds reserved from last year’s crop, so that there might be something to eat this year. One job. Make sure they get planted. And what does he do? He goes out and starts throwing seeds everywhere. Doesn’t pay any attention to where these seeds are going; he’s just winging seeds left, right, and sideways. Into the road, onto the rocks, into the weeds, wherever.

He is the worst seed-sower in the entire history of agriculture. He clearly didn’t read the first page of Seed Sowing for Dummies, where it clearly says, “Be sure to sow your seeds in the plowed field.” By some miracle, some take root, but a lot of them? Just gone.

Jesus tells this story, and the disciples are, to say the least, nonplussed. “What’s with all these stories, Jesus?” I mean, really. Why not just come right out and say what you want to say? Why is everything a fable wrapped in metaphor, without the moral? It’s so confusing.

And Jesus’ response? “Well, you guys clearly understand everything I’ve been teaching, but those people? If I told them straight out they’d never understand. They’d just miss the point like they always do. You’re lucky you’re not like them.”

And because they “understand so clearly,” he proceeds (in the next passage) to give it to them again, in a simpler, dumbed-down version. A metaphor that they still fail to grasp.

You see, it’s not about the ground. It’s about the seed.

The word of the kingdom, the gospel, is given to everyone. It’s not a targeted message for the few, and no one can tell where it’s going to take root. It has to be sown everywhere, even where people won’t listen, or can’t understand, or don’t care enough, because when it takes root amazing things happen.

Flinging the seeds all over the place may be bad agriculture, but it’s good evangelism.

Lord, as your love is for all people, help us not to be calculating in spreading the word of that love. Let it take root in unexpected places and be a blessing to us all. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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