Summary: In the parable of the seed the sower only has to be the sower and the seed only has to be the seed, the responsibility lies with the soil.
How’s Your Mud?
When I was a teen we lived just outside of Saint John New Brunswick in Hammond River and when I needed to think or just find time alone I would go down to the river, find a big rock and just sit and enjoy being next to the water. And it seems that it has always been like that, as a kid when I spent my summer vacation on Grand Manan you could often find me along the rocks of Swallow Tail or down by the edge of Pettes Cove enjoying being next to the water.
There just seems to be something refreshing and renewing about being next to water, we try to get out to Peggy’s Cove each year and our vacation times always end up somewhere around large bodies of water. I can’t even imagine living somewhere without quick access to the ocean.
It had been a rough couple of days for Jesus. He had been preaching to large crowds and families were bringing their sick children and parents to be touched and healed, I can only imagine the amount of emotional energy that it must have cost Christ. In the third chapter of Mark we are told Mark 3:20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. Jesus was riding this huge wave of popularity; you gotta love it when you are loved.
But not everyone was happy with what was happening. Jesus had to deal with the scribes and Pharisees, that seemed to be an ongoing battle, but this time they didn’t pull any punches. In Mark 3:22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
And you kind of expect that, everything Jesus taught threatened the status of these leaders, he was shaking up the status quo, leading people into a closer personal relationship with God which bypassed the religious establishment of the day. And really Jesus was able to give as good as he took, what with referring to the religious establishment as hyrpocrite, snakes and white washed tombs. It wasn’t entirely a one way street.
But what must have really hurt Jesus was his family’s reaction in Mark 3:21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. Ouch, that’s gotta hurt, when those who love you and are closest to you dismiss you as crazy. What is the line Sheldon uses in the Big Bang Theory, “I’m not crazy my mother had me tested.” Apparently that didn’t apply here.
But you can kind of understand his families feelings, Jesus had given up the security of the carpenter’s shop to become an itinerant preacher, itinerant is a fancy word for homeless. He had found an entirely new circle of friends, including 4 fishermen, a tax collector and at least one zealot, and a zealot was only half a step away from being a terrorist. And then not being content to simply preach feel good messages it appeared that he was willing to take on the entire religious establishment all by himself. Might sound a little crazy, but they didn’t have to mention it in public. Maybe it was this incident that caused Jesus to say later in his ministry Matthew 10:36 “Your enemies will be right in your own household!”
And so he has gone to the edge of the sea of Galilee, presumably to re-charge his batteries, in Matthew’s account it tells us Matthew 13:1 Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. But it appears the crowds have followed him and they begin to press in to hear him preach until finally he borrows a boat, maybe Peter’s or John’s, and turns it into a floating platform preaching to the crowds on the shore. And, as he does so well, he points his audience’s attention to the everyday and then uses it to direct them to the eternal and he begins to teach them using a parable, and a parable is simply an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus started with the here and now and used that to explain how to get to the there and then. In this case it was a man sowing seeds in a field.
We do need to note a couple of things here at the very beginning. The only responsibility that Jesus laid on the sower was that he sows the seed. The sower received no credit for the seed that grew nor any condemnation for the seed that didn’t grow. All too often we lay the responsibility for the fruitfulness of the see at the feet of the sower. If a church doesn’t grow it’s the preacher’s fault, if people aren’t saved it’s the preacher’s fault, if the church splits it’s the preacher’s fault.