Matthew 13:1-9 (The Message)
Parables are stories Jesus told that tell us something about the Kingdom of God. They are though about concealing and not just revealing the truth. If you want to understand the message you have to be prepared to delve deeper than the simple story. But the meaning behind this one is so clear isn’t it? Everyone understands? Well today I want us to think about this magnificent story Jesus told about types of soil / people.
Path - The ‘I don’t get this’ people
You can explain it until your blue in the face but these people will still just not get it. They are the people who "see, but not see; hear, but do not hear". In these folks the word that would set them free is left exposed, it does not penetrate and it dies.
Paul says of them, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4
In other words there is a group who do not understand because we are part of a Spiritual warfare battle, and our enemy the Devil takes away what little these have.
I have become more and more convinced as my ministry has progressed that there are many people who will hear and hear the gospel and Jesus call them over and over and they will never respond. What’s more they are in the Church not just outside it- those people who never make that step & really think of Church as a social club.
We need to get thick skinned about this for it is a fact of ministry. We need to scatter the seed and not fret so much about those who are like the path.
Rocky Ground – The ‘I’ll try anything once’ people
These are those with no root. They receive the gospel but the message of hope and grace gets burned away because it has barely broken the surface of the ground.
Often these people live for the now and then move on. They are thrill seekers who embody the "If it feels good, do it" sentiment of this current commercial age summed up so succinctly by the Nike advert which tells us to just do it. This is the for me one of the most common kinds of ground people we find in the world and the Church
Yet we are no longer to be "infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)
If we do not grow up as Church then we can guarantee that when the sun comes up (for sure it will) the seed will suffer and eventually maybe even die within us.
Without roots bringing water and sustenance life will fail.
Weeds – The ‘I have so many things to do’ people
We have to recognise and acknowledge that the gospel has to compete with so many different things in a person’s life. I am not sure there are more today than before, just perhaps that some are a little different. The competition varies but some examples are, money, sex, self, Spouse, sport, golf, but really this is an endless list.
Again this is a common ground found in world and Church. At first folk were sincere but later it proved an inconvenience. The gospel is understood, but too many things are pulling at the time and energy so much so that the truth gets pushed to the edges and gets choked; and what is so often left over is a dried up husk of what used to be /.what should be a vibrant living relationship.
Judging by the number of Sunday morning / nominal Christians in this country this is one of the biggest problems we face as Church today.
Good Soil - Those living in the power of God’s Spirit day by day
These people don’t just hear, they understand, and understanding they remain part of the living Body and bear much fruit.
YET what I think is most interesting here are not the soils at all but the sower. We ought to notice, and yet we often over look in this parable the attitude of the sower. For the sower knows what he is getting into. He knows his success/failure ratio. He knows the types of soil/people he will run into. The same goes for our God, who knows that He will run into the hard headed, the immature, and the two-faced. But he also knows the success stories of those whose lives make a difference in His strength.
Success or failure, good or bad, the sower, our God, never gives up. Full of grace He just keeps on going over & again never thinking about giving up.
Our challenge is to be like our Father in heaven – the great Sower. We must get with His programme and start sowing the seeds of the Gospel more often and more indiscriminately.
We need to recognise the principle that those awful telephone cold call people (I was one once & I know how persistent you have to be) who seem to always call our house at meals times know; namely that you have to make so many calls to get a yes. Too frequently we get disillusioned when we are told no by one or two people instead of being like our God.
The sower sowed his seed knowing that most of it would perish but he tried anyway. Our Father in heaven likewise is full of grace and love and sows His gospel far more widely than we will ever truly know or understand.
We have to start somewhere and there is somewhere I want to invite you to start. The Christmas special services will be upon us soon so I want you to invite someone who you know isn’t yet in a living relationship with Jesus to come along with. The specials this year will be user friendly and your friends won’t be bored!
If all of you asked and brought one friend we would have to expand wouldn’t we – but not all here will take this seriously. Some of us here have no one to ask – no non Church friends, which is why even better still we need to take the gospel out with us and make friends in this community instead of just being in Church groups.
Next year when we do Alpha will you have anyone to invite better still bring?
People come into a relationship with Jesus when we get along and share fellowship and build relationships, so I urge you to do just this.
There really is no excuse for not trying to sow seed as I see it. If you can think of a reason why you shouldn’t be involved in Jesus great commission team then you need to share it with me because I have missed it. If not then you need to get up and at it, for far too long the Church has allowed people to just be lazy about sowing seed – thinking that they can leave that to someone else. I have to say that everything I know about this sowing God of ours forces me to say without hesitation that is not acceptable.
We have the chance to make a real difference in the life of our church in this community. This is what we are about – not buildings, not cosy fellowship and meeting of friends, or raising funds for charity – if we want just that then we need to join the Masonic Lodge or the Citizens Club. No we are about sowing seeds.
I pray in Jesus name that we can meet the challenge of His Spirit.