4 When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ 11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. 16 “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 18 Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”
Jesus tells a story to a large crowd that is superficially about a farmer. Then he gives them a challenge: “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (NLT) I’m guessing that nobody said “That Jesus knows so much about farming. I’ve really heard and understood that.” And yet amongst that large crowd, only his disciples ask what the story meant.
As Jesus explains it, the various reactions to the story perfectly illustrate what the story was about: the word of God has been given and most in that large crowd were too hard of heart to even ask what it meant, too distracted by other things, perhaps a little bit interested but not enough to pursue what God was saying. (God had already warned them through Isaiah, but they hadn’t heard that either.) But some (the disciples) received the word and sought out its meaning, and it would bear fruit in them.
God isn’t hard to find, but he wants us to want him enough to look. “You will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29, Luke 11:9 and many more).
Jesus’ Challenge is for me too. What kind of “soil” will I be? Will I seek out not only his word but also understanding? Will I receive it and cling to it?
But there is another part to the challenge: How will I produce a huge harvest?
The next parable gives a hint: any fool knows that if you have a lamp you put it where it gives light to everyone. If God gives me understanding, it is not to quietly possess. It’s to share with all who will receive it, by words and the evidence of my life.
Father, replace my foolishness with your wisdom, my ignorance with your understanding, and give me boldness to share it with others.
Written by David Cornell