This week, I looked at Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23. In this passage, Jesus begins telling parables to the crowd around him, telling 8 in a row. I grew up thinking about this passage differently than I understand it now. In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man sowing seed and what he sows falls on 4 different type of ground (the path, the rocky ground, the weeds and finally, the good soil). Growing up in Sunday school, I thought this was another example of how careful we need to be to make sure we are the good soil. I used to think this meant we need to try really hard to avoid the types of ground that wouldn’t produce a good crop. I was confused in thinking Jesus was telling a cautionary tale about how we must try so hard to do things right and then, maybe then, we would be good Christians.
Now when I look at this passage I see something completely different. I see Jesus inviting us into an intimate relationship with Him, flaws and all. In verse 13, Jesus says “He who has ears, let him hear.” I think Jesus was saying something like, “Hello, listen to what I am saying. I want to go through the tedium, the messiness, of life with you.”
As I was preparing for Sunday and thinking about all the different types of soil and what they represented, I thought “I have been every one of those! I have been the rocky soil, the weeds, the path. I have very rarely been anything close to ‘good soil.'” I think Jesus knew that and was trying to tell us, “this is not a rule book, this is a love letter. I am not writing a prescription, I am inviting you into something better than you can know.”
I took away three points from the parable that are very simple but are helpful to me in my walk with Christ:
- God is faithful to plant the seed. The Kingdom of God is sure. The harvest is God’s doing and God is faithful.
- God is inviting us into a daily relationship with him; He wants the good, bad and ugly. My focus should be on a relationship with Him and only then will there be good soil.
- God invites us to be fruitful in community. I like the parable of crops as gardens can often be entire ecosystems where one plant is dependent on the next plant, which is dependent on the next plant, which is dependent on the next… to be successful. I think the crop is fuller when we grow in community, each part of the body (or the garden) is vital.
My prayer is simple. God, teach us to be vulnerable like the tilled up earth, ready for your seed. Let us come to you, yield to you, each day. Thank you for your invitation to grow and live fully in an intimate relationship with you.