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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 14, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23     

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!

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (NRSV)

The Parable of the Sower is a well-known parable that can sometimes be hard for us to unpack, particularly since most of us mentally place ourselves among the category of “good soil” as soon as we finish reading it! However, while Jesus is certainly using this agrarian metaphor to categorize types of followers, we would perhaps be better served not by trying to figure out which category we belong to, but rather by more closely considering Jesus’ words on what it means to be good soil.

There are three verbs listed for how those who are good soil respond: they “hear,” “understand,” and “bear fruit.” Hearing and understanding God’s Word are, of course, things that we aspire to do through prayer, through reading the biblical text, and through our experience of God in worship each week. We may never fully understand the mind of God, but most of us are used to keeping our own ears open as we listen for God in our lives. Hearing and understanding God’s Word, though, does not automatically make us good soil; in order to truly be good soil, we must also bear fruit.

While there could be dozens of devotions written about what the exact nature of God’s Word bearing fruit in our lives looks like, it is clear that being a disciple of Jesus necessitates not just passively hearing his words but actively being transformed by them. A seed planted in good soil will invariably bring forth a new creation—and so it is to be with God’s Word in us.

Creative and transformative God, may my experience of your Word indeed shape my daily living so that I might more fully bear the fruits of your Spirit to those around me. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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