Prayer: O Lord, help me understand your teachings through your Word and your Spirit. Amen.
Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 15
3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.
How many interpretations have you heard from today’s parable? At first, one might think the meaning is simple and direct, but our DW believes that it is easy to oversimplify the meanings. On the other hand, it seems that sometimes people tend to overcomplicate them.
Simply stated the rocky soil is one way, the thorns are another, and we are the good soil because we are here listening and reading and bearing fruit. Our DW suggests that we focus instead on God. Consider that God sows his grace abundantly and on all soils and that even on rocky ground some seeds flourish. And even in the good soil some seeds flourish better than others, but again that is not the point. Our DW explains; “The point is that the Sower sows—lavishly, continually. So despite the ‘troubles…and the cares of the world’ (vv. 21, 22), we can trust that the seed, the word of God, will bear much fruit.”
Of course, the text skips over versus 10-17, which disclose the Purpose of the Parables and says:
14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.’
Then in Verse 16, Jesus says: 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Which is it for you? Consider the final verses that explain the parable.
Prayer: “Lord God, thanks for the gift of your word. Help it to flourish in us, through Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Matthew 13:1-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 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. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
The Purpose of the Parables
10 Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13 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.’ 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 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.
The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 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. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 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. 22 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. 23 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.”