Parable of the Sower

28th April 2022

by Revd Jemima Lewis

On Sunday we looked at the Parable of the Sower and wondered together what the different aspects of the story represented. We thought about how, if the seed represents God’s message of love, and the ground is us, the people in the world, then this parable is saying that different people have different responses to God’s love.

In our Breakfast Church series on the Parables of Jesus, we have been thinking about how parables are a bit like a code, with different images or characters in the story usually representing something else, a bit like a giant metaphor. Sometimes it’s really obvious what is being represented, sometimes less so – often there might not be a definitive interpretation, there might be many ways to interpret certain bits of the parable’s code.

We learn that some people are like the path, the seed falls on them but the birds come immediately and eat it all up. One answer could be that the ‘path people’ are the people who aren’t interested at all in God’s message, perhaps they don’t have time, perhaps they’re really busy, perhaps it’s not a priority, or perhaps they really dislike the message. At any rate, they do not want to hear it – the message washes off them like water off a duck’s back, it lands and bounces off again, the birds eat it and it’s gone.

Other people, says the parable, are like rocky soil, the seed falls on them and it grows at first but then stops growing because there is no depth, their roots don’t get established and they eventually wither. What could this mean? What type of people are the rocky people? I’m going to call these people the keenos! These people start off receiving the message of God’s love joyfully, they’re so enthusiastic, getting stuck into everything at church, doing the right thing, being my best selves, living my best lives but then…. the intention and energy begins to wither and maybe even die when life gets tough out in the hot sun.

Maybe those rocks stand for all that pressure they put on themselves, weighing them down, holding them back. Maybe they think they have to do it all in their own strength and they struggle to let go and trust God. Or maybe the rocks are buried hurts under the surface that they carry and can’t get past – never fully able to trust God for his healing. Are you a rocky person?

Some people are like thorny soil: the seed, that message of God’s love, grows in it but quite soon the little shoots get choked by all the thorns, like obstacles they can’t round. Whereas the rocks are under the surface of the person, the thorns are above the soil – what could they be? What type of people are the thorny people?

Jesus tells us later on in the story that the thorns stand for things out there in the world – specifically the worries of life and the lure of wealth. So these people start off with good intentions but they get sidetracked, distracted, even trapped by wealth and materialism, by power, by worrying about money and having the best stuff – the ‘cares of this life’ as Jesus calls them, the pressures of the outside world, are the thorns. Are you a thorny person?

And still others are the good soil people, the seed grows really well and multiplies and multiplies. These are the people who receive God’s message of love and take it into their heart, letting it do them good and do others good too, as they grow and bear fruit, not relying on themselves to be endlessly productive but drawing on that deep root that taps into the heart of God’s love, that keeps them strong and nourished.

Do you recognise yourself in any of these types of soil? We can be quick to peg or pigeon hole ourselves, but the truth is that we are probably all of the soils at different times in our life. At times we may even have been the path, those not interested or too busy or even hostile to God’s seed. Certainly we have all been both rocky and thorny at times, and perhaps we’ve also known such deep love and blessing that we must have been living out of the good soil, that place of deep trust in God, where we are drawing on his abundance, bearing fruit almost without effort because we are simply overflowing with God’s goodness. As St Iraneus said, surely ‘the glory of God is a person fully alive’.

I wonder which soil you feel like right now? Know in this moment that there is a God who is always present and wanting to gently weed out those thorns, sift out the rocks, that you might experience the richness of that good soil again.