Consider the parable of the sower.
Jesus goes out to the sea.
Notice how he is not teaching here in the synagogue.
He is outside seeking to reach as many people as possible.
And the people come.
They come to hear the great teacher.
Jesus gets into the boat and sits down.
The people line up by the shore eager to hear what this man has to say.
And he begins with a parable of a sower.
Now a parable is a short story that teaches a moral or some kind of ethical point.
A parable can have many layers of meaning and interpretation.
A parable can impact us on many levels.
A parable can even speak to us in different ways at different seasons of our lives.
The Jewish teachers loved parables.
The religious teachers would use parables to help people to understand the Jewish laws.
Jesus being a Jewish teacher does the same.
He teaches the people through the means of parables.
Many of the parables that Jesus speaks comes directly from the Scriptures.
For example, there is a similar parable told of the sower in 4 Ezra Chapter eight.
4 Ezra is an Apocrypha book.
It is a holy book that did not make it into the canon of the Bible.
But if you were to read that book, which was probably written in the first century, you will find a similar parable of a sower.
The story is told to make the point of the righteous ones who continue to follow in God’s ways even in the face of difficulties.
In the same way Jesus preaches this parable to the crowd as a way of teaching the people about the journey of faith and in the importance of following in God’s ways.
Let’s ponder this parable.
A farmer sows seed in his field.
Some seed fall along the path.
The birds eat this seed.
Some seed falls on rocky soil.
The plants come up then wither because their roots are shallow.
Some seed fall among the thorns.
When the plants come up, they become choked by the thorns and they die.
But some seed fall on good soil.
These produce a crop.
Some produce a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was initially sown.
Listen he says to the meaning of the parable.
If we only hear the message and do not understand it then the evil one comes and steals the message from our hearts.
This is the seed on the path.
Those who receive the Word with joy but then drift away are the plants that have no roots.
Those who hear the Word but are distracted with the worries of this world or by the temptations of wealth are the plants that grow up next to thorns.
And finally, those who hear the Word and understand the Word are the ones that produce the very fruit of the kingdom.
Their good work is multiplied many times over.
These are the ones that break the kingdom of God into this world.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this parable now.
We might look at the various soils in the parable as human hearts.
The Christian life is a journey always deeper into good soil.
The inner life is what Jesus is speaking about here.
He is concerned with our hearts and how our hearts are being ever transformed by the Word of the Lord.
Hearing and understanding God’s Word is what Jesus is getting at here.
The Word of God transforms and changes us when he both hear it and understand it.
If you are not already on a daily Bible reading plan then I would encourage you to start.
Find a plan then stick with it.
In my personal Bible reading I like to read book by book of the Bible.
So, I will take a book of the Bible and read through it slowly and then I will read another of book of the Bible and so on.
Right now, I am reading 1 Samuel in the Old Testament and when I finish 1 Samuel I will move on to another book of the Bible.
But you might want to jump around from book to book and read a chapter here and a chapter there from different books of the Bible.
It does not matter how you read the Bible but that you read it.
And then and this is the important part you work to put what you read into practice.
It does no good to read the Scriptures and then to live as if the Bible parables and stories and laws had no meaning to your day to day living.
Remember that Jesus ends the parable by teaching us that the seed on good soil is the one who hears the Word and understands it.
This means that the Word is doing something in your heart.
The Word is impacting you in some way.
I completely believe this -that if someone reads the Bible daily and then seeks to live what they read then they live differently in this world.
The two go together.
You hear and you understand – you hear and then you understand – you hear and then you understand –
The Word is active and alive changing and transforming your heart.
That is why we call God’s Word the Living Word.
God’s Word produces a harvest.
Who is the one who is living the faith – who is living the Christian life?
It is the one who is living their life by the Word of God.
It is that simple but also that profound.
As I was working on my sermon this past week I thought about this parable in relation to our congregation.
If our congregation was like seed on the path, or seed in the rocky places, or seed that was among the thorns then our congregation would never have survived this pandemic.
Let me say that again because I want this to really sink in…
If our congregation was like seed on the path, or seed in the rocky places, or seed among the thorns then our congregation would not have survived this pandemic and I would just be talking to myself right now.
But that is not what is happening I am not talking to myself rather I am proclaiming the very Word of God while preaching to God’s faithful people.
I thank God for you all and for your faithfulness.
You are faithful to the Word of God.
You are growing in God’s good soil.
Thank you for your witness.
Thank you for your love of God’s Word.
Thank you for not giving up on this church during this difficult time.
I have seen the strength of our congregation at this time.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed and bread to the eater, so shall my word be.”
In patience and in hope we continue to live more deeply into God’s Word even at a time like this.
Our congregation just survived our building being closed for over three months!
That is a testament to the power of the Word impacting our hearts and keeping our faith community together.
Praise be to God. Amen.