Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading from Matthew 13 is sometimes called the parable of the seed, sometimes the parable of the sower, sometimes the parable of the soils. Matthew gives us no such title. It’s just a parable.
What’s especially important here? There is a farmer sowing seed. The seed does what seed naturally does. It germinates whenever possible. And this seed, as Jesus identifies in verse 19, is “the word of the kingdom” (ESV). God’s word is sown and regularly grows.
We see there is no place in the parable where the seed is not sown. As far as we can tell, it is scattered all over the world. There are some places where it will not grow and bear fruit. But, as with a farmer’s field, most of the space is good for growing.
The metaphors in the parable become a little messy. Jesus identifies the seed, but then he seems to identify four different conditions without distinguishing the “soil” from the “seed.” However, the context will help us see that it is one and the same seed which is planted everywhere.
The soils seem to be different conditions of people who hear God’s word. Some lose it right away. Some receive it but only for a while. Some receive it but it is choked out by various trials. Some receive it and continue to hold to it.
While there’s an underlying current of thought here saying we should seek to be receptive and faithful, there is another, saying people will respond in the way they do and that we cannot govern them. But the overarching idea is this. God is able to bring forth fruit from his word. This is for the good of all, and is a gift of his mercy. All that we need, and all that we have comes from God’s merciful hand.
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