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 ones 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 the 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."
The parables Jesus told throughout his ministry are so rich with meaning it hardly does them justice to discuss one in a short devotion. In just this single story there are so many ways to interpret it and insight to gain. Are we the sower in this story - looking for a good place to share the word of God? Are we the soil - should we look into our hearts to see what we are prepared to hear? Are we the seeds - growing clear and strong in the word or getting our life with God choked out by the world around us?
The answer to all those questions is: Yes. We can see ourselves in every part of this story depending on where we are in life and what we are going through when we hear it. This is the beauty of the way that Jesus taught - we will learn something new almost every time we encounter his words. That is, if we have hears to hear, and choose to listen.
This parable is also a good reminder that so much of the work of the kingdom of God is sowing seeds in a garden that we won't necessarily get to see grow. I feel this truth so often in my work in ministry - from day to day it often doesn't feel like I get anything of significance done. But I have hope that the seeds I plant, the people I touch, the good I do, will bear fruit eventually, even it if is a long time from now when I have moved on to ministry in another place.
May your ears be open to the word, and may your eyes be open to seeing the goodness of God's word bearing fruit around you, and may you be one who helps all these things to grow in the love of God.
God of seeds and soil and sowers, God who makes all things flourish, may we be people who help to spread your Kingdom far and wide. Help us to have the faith to plant even when we may not see the fruit, and help us to see the fruit that is bearing good things around us. Amen.