Tag Archives: parable of the sower

Exponential: A Seed of Faith – sermon on Mark 4:1-9

August 5, 2018

We’re starting a message series today called Exponential. When it comes to faith, when it comes to life, when it comes to God’s blessings, we tend to think addition. We want God to add to our lives. But our God thinks multiplication. And God’s version of multiplication is always exponential. When God multiplies, it’s to the “Nth” degree.

Think all the way back to the Garden of Eden. What did God say to Adam and Eve? God said, be fruitful and … multiply. He didn’t say be fruitful and add. He said be fruitful and multiply. Continue reading

It’s Not About the Dirt – Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

First in a Three Part Series: Parables – Stories That Read Us
July 16, 2017
Watch a video of this sermon here. 

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.” – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

This week we begin a three part Sermon Series on the parables found in the 13th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. We’re calling the series “Parables: Stories that Read Us.” This is more than a catchy title: it describes why Jesus used parables in the first place. Jesus gives this explanation:

“The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ … But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:13, 16-17)

In other words, the way we hear them tells us how receptive we really are to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses this first parable to set us up for the seven parables that will follow. They will be all about the Kingdom of God. This one is about the character of God, and how God reveals that character to those who recognize it. It’s a perfect example of a story that reads us. It shows how parables reflect back to us our ability to understand them.

Throughout this 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus keeps saying, “those who have ears, let them hear; anyone with ears, listen!” In other words, these stories will find the ones who can understand them. As you listen to the story, it will “read” you, and identify which kind of recipient you are by the way you hear it. The depth of our understanding depends on our willingness to be changed by what we hear.

For example, you can take the story at face value: seeds get sown, and where they land determines how well they will grow.

Or, you can try to assign meaning to the parts of the parable, treating it strictly as an allegory. The Sower is God, the Word is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the soil is our hearts. Using this interpretation, and the explanation Jesus gives of this story, we might think the point is to do everything we can to become good soil.

But there’s a problem with this approach: we can’t change the kind of soil we are – only God can do that.

The bigger problem with this kind of interpretation is that it makes the story be about us, about the soil. But the story is not about you (be good dirt); the story is for you. This parable, like all scripture, is really about God and God’s extravagant generosity. So let’s focus on that for a moment.

God is the Sower, scattering seed liberally, even wastefully, everywhere. God sows. It’s what God does. It’s what God keeps on doing. God keeps throwing seeds, regardless of where the seed might land. God is love, and love is generous, lavish, abundant, eager to share what is good. God will not withhold the Word from anyone. God will not deny anyone access to the Good News.

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