Summary: Farming in the days of Jesus wasn’t like today. But the church that Jesus began, and the way Jesus set it up haven’t changed over the ages.
OPEN: A man walked into a flower shop and asked for some potted red geraniums.
"I’m sorry," said the clerk in flower shop, "we are completely sold out of all of our potted geraniums. But I’d be more than happy to give you a deal on something else. Could you use African violets instead?"
Replied the customer sadly, "No, it was geraniums my wife told me to water while she was gone."
APPLY: You’d think that a simple task like watering the plants wouldn’t be too hard for a guy. But speaking from experience, I can sympathize with this man. I realize there are people here that really like gardening, but I don’t. Watering plants just doesn’t make it for me. If I want some vegetables, I’ll go down to the grocery store and get some.
But – of course – somebody had to grow that vegetable that I bought at the store. And our nation has some of the finest farmers that have ever walked the face of the earth. They have the finest tractors and plows and combines, and because of their skill and the tools they can use… America literally feeds the world.
Back in the days of Jesus, however, farmers had a lot less to work with. And the picture we see here in Matthew 13 is that of the common farmer. He doesn’t have the tools to properly fit the ground and prepare for seed, so he simply reaches into his bag, takes out handful after handful of seed and flings it across the ground.
Because of the haphazard way he’s throwing the seed…
· Some of it falls on a nearby hard-packed pathway
· Some falls amongst the rocks
· Some falls on weedy ground…
· But then, some of it falls on fertile ground and the seed takes root and gives a bountiful crop
Now Jesus is telling a story, and He’s telling this story to illustrate how God intended to spread the Gospel across the land and bring people to salvation.
But there were a couple of things about this story that struck me as odd:
1st – The parable seems to give the impression that God isn’t all that concerned about which soil He allows His seed to take root in.
Just think about that for a minute:
The Seed is the Word of God.
The Seed belongs to God.
Now, since the Seed belongs to God… don’t you think He’d be a little more selective about which soil even gets to receive this gift?
But that’s not how it plays out.
The footpath and the rocky soil and weedy soil… they all get a shot at this seed… WHY?
Well, I got to thinking about that.
ILLUS: A couple of weeks ago, you folks sent a team of us to Mexico to help Garnet Calzeda and her missionary team plant churches in Zaragoza and Salitre. As we were driving across the desert and up into the mountains we couldn’t help noticing all the rocks scattered across the land. There were millions of them.
Rocks the size of your fist,
the size of softballs
the size of watermelons
and the size small buildings.
There were rocks everywhere.
When I asked Garnet about it, she laughed and said “yes, they say that the one thing this land grows well is rocks… it’s literally a rock garden.”
When we got to Zaragoza we passed by one of the few gardens I saw there. It had corn growing in a plot the size of a big back yard but there too, there were rocks scattered throughout the garden plot.
Why would the farmer plant corn in such a rock filled yard? Well, if the man wanted a crop… he had to scatter his seed in the land that he had… and then trust that the seed would bear fruit.
And the farmer in Jesus’ parable did the same thing.
He’s scattering His seed over all the land He had… trusting that the seed would bear fruit.
In Isaiah 55:10-11 God declares
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
You see that’s the power of God’s SEED - the Word of God
God scatters it all over the earth, because it has power to take root in the harshest ground. And once it takes root, it can bear fruit.
God doesn’t care about the condition of the soil.
Of course, the harsher the soil, the harder it becomes to get a crop… but you can still get a crop.