July 12, 2020
6th Sunday After Pentecost; Proper 10
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
My grandad was a story teller. Not just the kind of person who tells stories to reminisce but the kind who told stories to teach or make a point. We all knew that when we asked a questions chances were the answer was going to be far more than we really wanted. And yet we always went to him with our questions about anything and everything.
I miss his stories. His stories shaped us and made us stretch our minds and helped us grow and be better people. Grandaddy told us stories because he loved us so much he wanted to help us be our best possible self. He was an amazing man.
So, when I read the stories of folks asking Jesus questions, I know how they feel when his answers aren’t straight forward or what they wanted to hear.
Jesus has been teaching and preaching in the towns and villages around the see of Galilee.
The people long to hear his words, they seek him out continuously. They know he has something life changing and even though they’ve seen the signs and heard his words, many still question who he is, not because they doubt him but because they don’t want to accept God’s way of doing things over their own way.
And so he tells them many things in parables.
Jesus tells them stories because he wants them to have so much more than just pat answers to recite. Jesus tells many things in parables because he wants to change our way of thinking, our way of seeing the world around us. He wants to change our hearts so that we see everything as part of God’s kingdom.
Jesus tells us stories because he loves us and wants to help us be our best possible self.
For the crowd Jesus is speaking to, many of them would have gardens or even large fields in which they grew crops. Planting seeds meant carefully plowed rows and carefully managed seeds because there would have been a limited supply of seeds. The condition of the soil in which they planted their precious seeds was of utmost importance because only good soil produced bountiful crops.
And Jesus tells them a story of abundant and reckless seed scattering by a sower who didn’t seem at all concerned with the type of soil on which the seeds landed. Many of those who heard this story would have been shocked by the perceived wastefulness of the sower. They wouldn’t have the ability to see it any other way. They did not have the ears to listen to the true meaning of the story. They didn’t want to be changed.
To understand this parable, we have to put ourselves in two places at once – as the seed sower and as the soil receiving the seeds.
We preachers learn early on in our career that the words we so passionately craft for each week will only occasionally land on ears ready for the growth of those particular words. And when we reach out to our mentors and spiritual guides in times of discouragement, we remind each other of this parable. We remind each other that our job is to scatter the seeds of God’s love by preaching God’s Word in abundance without worry of where they land. The results are not up to us. We can only cultivate our own soil and invite others to and model for them how do the same.
But it isn’t just the preachers’ job to scatter seeds. This parable is about all of us.
When we choose to follow Jesus we all take on the responsibility of being a sower for God’s kingdom. We are to scatter with abundance the seeds of God’s love, not worrying about whether anyone is worthy or able to receive it. We aren’t to fret about whether we will run out of seeds because there is no limit to God’s love, the more we sow the more we have to sow. And we can’t give up because we don’t see results.
We can’t get hung up on where the seeds land. The only soil we can cultivate to be good and healthy soil that will bring forth abundant fruit is our own soil, our own hearts. And the way to prepare ourselves for the seeds of God’s love is to be intentional in our relationship with God, learning to live in our faith in all the we think, say, and do.
We will never run out of seeds because the more love we share the more love we have to share, and scattering the seeds of God’s love help improve our own soul’s soil.
When Jesus explains this parable, he never says be cautious about where you scatter seeds. He talks only about the many types of soil on which the seeds could possibly land. Those with ears to hear will be the ones whose hearts are open to growth and change, those who are willing to learn to see the world through the lens of God’s kingdom.
In the bit of this chapter of Matthew that we skipped over in our reading, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah who said that people won’t be able to see Jesus for who he is because their hearts have grown dull and they have shut their eyes.
True understanding of God’s path and plan requires us to understand with our hearts and turn toward God, to seek out and discover the image of God at our very core. This is what gives us the eyes to see and the ears to hear the true message of the Gospel. It is a life-long journey following Jesus being both the sower and the soil.
Jesus never told anyone “you’re good as you are, you’ve got it all figured out.” Ours is an active and moving faith of following Jesus. It takes daily work to keep the soil of our souls receptive to the seeds of God’s love so that we have abundant seeds to sow.
Keep coming to Jesus and let the stories he tells shape and change and transform you through the abundance of God’s love for all of us. And together with God’s help we will grow into who God created and calls us to be. Amen.