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The sower and the seeds

Jesus’ teaching always urges us to look beyond ourselves and reach out to others. Read Marion's latest blog post on the parable of the sower. 

As He travelled around Galilee, Jesus attracted huge crowds. They were amazed at His miracles and healings, but more importantly, enthralled by His teaching. He taught by telling stories which drew on familiar, everyday things. He didn’t tend to explain what the stories meant, but left it up to the audience to figure it out for themselves.

But there is one exception – the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15). The story goes like this. A farmer is sowing seed. He walks in the field, takes seed out of a basket and spreads it around by hand. Some of it falls on the pathway, some on stony ground and some on thorny ground. The seeds on the path get trampled on, the seeds that fall amongst thorns are choked and can’t grow and the seeds that fall on the stony ground soon wither. Some seeds fall on good ground and they thrive, producing healthy crops.

Different soil types

The disciples ask what this means and Jesus explains. The seed represents the word of God – Jesus’ teaching. The various types of soil represent different types of hearers. The path represents the kind of person who hears what Jesus is saying, but believes the devil when he tells them that it’s all nonsense or that it can’t possibly be for them.

Rocky ground represents people who love what they hear, take it up enthusiastically, but don’t want to go deeper. They want the emotional comfort but are not prepared to do the hard work of learning to become like Jesus. As soon as anything difficult comes along, they give up.

The thorny ground represents people who hear and accept what Jesus has to say, but they get distracted by trying to make themselves happy with money and possessions. The good soil represents those who hear what Jesus has to say and stay with Him. They don’t listen to the Devil’s lies, they see beyond a superficial “feel good” faith and resist the distractions of money and possessions. They persevere and produce lots of fruit.

Application

So what does this mean for us? Those of us who hear Jesus’ teaching have a responsibility to persevere, making sure that our lives are clear of weeds and thorns and that familiar, well-worn pathways don’t become places in which lies can take hold. In other words, we have a responsibility to cultivate our own spiritual lives.

But Jesus’ teaching always urges us to look beyond ourselves and reach out to others, for, if we focus on ourselves too much there is a danger that we become inward looking and self-absorbed. We are called not just to keep the ground clear for our own wellbeing, but together with all Christians, to create fertile space so that others who hear can join us, take root, grow and flourish.

Please pray as staff and volunteers at Glasgow City Mission work together to spread the word and provide a welcoming, safe community in which people can find new life.

Marion Carson 
Chaplain

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