2 He said many things to them in parables. While teaching them, he said, 3 “Listen to this! A farmer went out to scatter seed. 4 As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path; and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it scorched the plants; and they dried up because they had no roots. 7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked the seeds, and they produced nothing. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and bore fruit. Upon growing and increasing, the seed produced in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of one hundred to one.” 9 He said, “Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!”
14 The farmer scatters the word. 15 This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, right away Satan comes and steals the word that was planted in them. 16 Here’s the meaning of the seed that fell on rocky ground: When people hear the word, they immediately receive it joyfully. 17 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like the seed scattered among the thorny plants. These are the ones who have heard the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the false appeal of wealth, and the desire for more things break in and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 20 The seed scattered on good soil are those who hear the word and embrace it. They bear fruit, in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case sixty to one, and in another case one hundred to one.”
Jesus told a parable about a farmer sowing seed, and where the seed landed made a big difference. (People trained in wine tasting say one layer of a wine’s flavor reflects the terroir, the soil, in which the grapes grew.) At the story’s end, he used a common Hebrew idiom: “Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!” It was a way of saying the story’s meaning wasn’t obvious, that understanding its message took attention and thought.
Lord Jesus, you want me to know you. You reveal yourself in many ways, some of them subtle and quiet. Give me ears to hear, a spirit attuned and attentive to all you wish to plant in me. Amen.
* Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, USA, 1998, p. 223.
This week in church we learned about terroir, the natural environment in which wine is produced and vines are grown. The ground and soil in which it’s planted have a significant natural impact on a plant. Jesus’ parable today examines four different types of ground where seed was scattered for vines to grow: The path (where birds ate it), rocky ground (where roots could not grow, and thus the plants scorched in the sun), among thorny plants (which choked the plants), and in good soil (where roots formed and the plants produced much fruit).
This makes me think of my kids and how I raise them. I want to make sure that they are firmly rooted in life, in their self-awareness, and most of all in their faith. I want them to know who they are and to whom they belong so that in life nobody can come along and break them down. My hope is that when they are challenged in the future, they are able to be like Jesus in the wilderness as He was tempted and could use his roots in scripture to withstand those trials.
Yet I can’t teach my kids this if I’m not firmly planted in my faith already. To grow my roots deep so I can bear God’s good fruit means that I need to live in the Word every day, to seek justice and mercy for those who are marginalized, and to help others to grow whose roots aren’t yet firmly planted in Christ. There are many other forms of living a Christian life and showing God’s love while being Spiritually fed ourselves, this is just a small list.
Speaking of roots, next Tuesday night we have a group called “Roots” coming to speak in our Sanctuary. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Palestinian activist Shadi Abu Awwad will speak to us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They focus on the side of the conflict that we don’t often see: that the land forming those two nations is believed to belong to both of the groups, leaving locations war-torn and families homeless or in refugee camps. We will learn about the roots and identities of both these nations, why they both believe (and rightfully so) this is their land, and how Roots is creating conversation for the two sides to work together.
This is just one example of a group who is firmly planted in what they believe and who they are, despite any criticism or hardship they feel along the way. I believe this is what Jesus calls us to in this parable: to be Christians who embrace the Word and who are so firmly rooted in the identity of being one with Christ himself that we radiate His message, bearing the fruit of love and hope to others.
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