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Summary: In the parable the seed is sown everywhere without discrimination, representing responses from all people; but in the end, it is only strength through humility that prevails.

This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,

Ayrshire, Scotland on the 13th July 2014

(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Summary: In the parable the seed is sown everywhere without discrimination, representing responses from all people; but in the end, it is only strength through humility that prevails.

Genesis 25:19-34 Psalm 119:105-112 Romans 8:1-11 Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)

Introduction:

Today’s Gospel reading is very familiar to all, and so it is difficult to put a different slant on it, and after much deliberation, I gave up and decided to face it head on, so picture the scene in your mind where Jesus is teaching from a boat on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, and picture a breeze blowing as he nods in the direction of a farmer in the distance sowing seeds in his field.

We can also picture also the crowd in the bright sunshine as they listened to Jesus, while watching this sower sow his seeds from a bag at his side; scattering them onto all sorts of ground; some suitable, and some not.

Now the fields in biblical times were not like our fields today which have been prepared by modern machinery … and crops planted all neatly in a row; because in those days, the farmer would cast the seed all over the ground, and then … plough it under. The fields also in those days were different; … instead of a whole field as we know today, the fields were really long strips of ground, with paths between them so that people could walk through them in their daily business, without disturbing the crop.

This then allowed free travel; and so the Romans without regard to the farmers, built their roads right through their fields which made the soil rock hard. … Sometimes the land next to the field was allowed to grow fallow, (that is, it was resting for a year), so that thorns and weeds were encouraged to grow free; … and so with the ancient process of scattering seeds onto all these different types of soil, Jesus used this analogy as the basis of this parable.

There were other symbolisms in there as well: the farmer or sower for instance is “the Son of Man”, that is Jesus himself; and the seed of course are the Word of God. The various soils conditions of course represented the people’s diverse responses to his Word.

And so there are many things to be discussed in this wonderful parable that were worth sharing, so I will limit them to a few, but the first is this: The seed is allowed to fall onto every type of soil without discrimination: the packed earth, the soil full of rocks, the soil full of thorns and weeds and the good soil, from which we can conclude that one of the things that Jesus is saying is that God spreads his word to everyone, indiscriminately; even though there is little chance of the seed germinating and taking root.

He does this regardless; he gives an opportunity for everyone to hear his word, and respond. Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”.

Every person alive is given an opportunity to respond to God in some way or other and 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise … He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.

And we, who have the privilege of worshiping here, at this time of the world’s history, certainly have an opportunity and a responsibility.

The apostle Peter too had a revelation from God about this very issue when God showed him that he cares about everyone, no matter what their race, nationality, economic or spiritual condition: Acts 10:34 Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” The King James Version simply says, “God is no respecter of persons.” And that is why Jesus said in Mark 16:15 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”.

This means that the worst sinner on earth will be given an opportunity to respond to God, even when God knows they will not, the fault therefore not being on God, because he has tried, but on the listener, who refuses to respond. I find this quite disturbing … it is just like that seed, because if it is not going to grow, then it will die without purpose.

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