The Seed and the Soil, by Christine V. Hides
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Luke 8:4–8
Reflection: The houseplants in my office look a bit unwell after this long winter. Is it the lack of light? Too much water? The soil? Caring for plants is mysterious and challenging. Agriculture in Jesus’ time was essential work, not just a hobby. Once again Jesus uses what is familiar to engage an emerging theme: hearing and doing.
We receive a rare explanation of the meaning of this parable in verses 11–15. Even so there is room here to explore and imagine. The title is a useful starting point. Some Bible transitions name this “The Parable of the Sower.” Others call it “The Parable of the Soils.” The seed and the harvest could also be the main subjects.
Barbara Reid finds the “familiar radically twisted” from every angle. The sower (Jesus) who plants the word indiscriminately. The harvest (reign of God) that far surpasses known yields. The seeds (God’s word) which find a place to thrive. “The parable leaves the hearer overwhelmed at the inconceivable abundance of God’s grace manifest in the end times.” Our understanding of this parable is enriched by looking beyond what is familiar to what is radical and life-giving in the world now and yet to be.
Sower of Grace, overwhelm us, take root in us.
Reid, Barbara, Parables for Preachers, Year C.