Jesus once told a parable about a man who went to plant seeds. Taking handfuls of seed, he spread them on the ground. Some seed fell on the path, where birds gobbled it up; other on rocky soil, where it sprung quickly but was scorched by the sun; other among thorny plants that crowded it out; other on good soil, where the seed produced a harvest, one-hundred-fold, sixty-fold, and thirty-fold.
The parable teaches an important lesson about the message Jesus came to proclaim and fulfill. Jesus proclaimed a kingdom where the last will be first. He proclaimed a kingdom where love and prayer are one’s response to an enemy instead of hate and retribution, a kingdom that breaks the cycles of violence that proliferate. This Kingdom is ruled by a suffering Savior, who so loved the world that he gave his life, that even the worst might repent and find new life.
People receive this message differently. The seed that fell on the path is like those who hear the message of the Kingdom but do not “understand” it. The Greek word often here translated “understand” means “to have an intelligent grasp of something that challenge’s one’s thinking or practice.” The Evil One quickly takes advantage of their refusal to be challenged and snatches away what was sown in their heart. The seed that fell on the rocky soil is like those who hear the message, receive it with joy, but fall away when heeding that message means hardship or persecution in their life. The seed that falls among the thorny plants is like those who hear, but remain unfruitful, because they are preoccupied with the worries of life and allure of wealth. The seed that falls on good soil, however, is like those who hear the message and allow it to challenge them and produce fruit. They alone produce a crop, abundantly.
The Parable of the Sower is broadly about the reception of God’s Revelation, most fully revealed in Jesus and authoritatively recorded in Scripture. The parable is directed at every one of us. It compels us to ask, “What is the condition of my heart toward Christ’s message? Is my heart calloused, like the hard path? Is it quick to listen but slow to take heed, like the rocky soil? Is it too preoccupied with the temporal affairs of this world, like the seed among the thorny plants? Or do I allow that message to abidingly challenge me and produce fruit, like the seed in good soil?