4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. 16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
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