[Image of Jesus’ wounded hand sowing seed]
Have you ever read a part of Scripture, maybe a parable, and thought, “Gosh, Jesus, you could’ve told the story a little better than you did.” Or maybe you try to simplify it, and assume Jesus is telling us what we must do.
With the parable of the sower it’s easy to try to simplify things and say, “Maybe He’s saying we should be better sowers.” Or if that doesn’t quite fit, we assume that it’s saying we should be better soil by trying – trying not to be so hard, trying not to be so shallow, and trying not to grow any thorns.
It’s easy to assume this parable is about us cleaning up our act– about how to get rid of the dirt. In the Old Testament, there are hundreds of laws having to do with ritual cleansing so that dirt, dung, and decay doesn’t come in contact with the manifest presence of God. We assume that God is deeply offended by our dirt. So, in this parable, we assume Jesus is telling us how to cleanse ourselves of all dirt. Yet, we’re made of dirt (Genesis 2) and in the parable, the good ground is nothing but dirt.
Well, when we look at what Jesus says this parable means we come to realize it’s a story that’s better than we can possibly imagine! It’s a story about God’s decision and not our decision. It’s about the Word of the Kingdom-the Promised Seed, and The Word does not return void!
Let’s look at it today.
“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside” (the path).
You know, a path is soil that’s become accustomed to receiving people, rather than seed, and so it becomes hard. It’s concerned with public opinion, and so can’t believe God’s opinion–God’s judgment. The Sower still sows His seed, but it doesn’t sink in, and the wicked one devours it like a bird.
…Birds eat seeds by design. Seeds are often covered in fruit so the bird digests the fruit, but not the seed. The seed is deposited on the ground, encased in what? Fertilizer.
You know, poop is an essential ingredient of fertile soil. Jesus quoted Isaiah in regard to the seed, and Isaiah goes on to say, “The word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40: 8). Peter tells us the seed is “incorruptible” (1 Peter 1: 23). So, you see, the evil one cannot destroy the Seed, but the Seed does destroy the work of the evil one.
And not only destroys it, He seems to use it. He uses all that crap to produce very fertile soil. Like Paul writes, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Grace grows in some pretty nasty crap. In fact, Jesus tells a parable about a tree that won’t produce fruit. So the master says, “Dig around it and dung it.” “It needs more crap.”
Next verse, Matthew 13: 20-21
“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
We all know people like this or are people like this. We get all excited about Jesus, but when our faith is tested by trials and tribulations, we cry, “What did I do wrong?” which must reveal that we thought we were the savior and the roots of the tree just haven’t sunk very deep into our soil.
And in the book of Isaiah, God seems bound and determined to make Israel, His land, fertile…He tells Isaiah to preach, and He pours out His wrath on Israel and the whole earth…Isaiah 24: 19 “The earth is utterly broken. It is split apart and violently shaken.” We’re talking about some hard-core rototilling. Then we read…Isaiah 55: 11 “My word shall not return void, but shall accomplish that for which I sent it.
Matthew 13: 18 – 22
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world (literally: “the cares of this age”–anxiety over this age), and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
“The deceitfulness of riches” must be the illusion that we are in control. “The anxiety of this age” must be the false belief that we must take the “knowledge of good and evil” and make ourselves in the image of God. That’s why we hide the dirt in good deeds and fig leaves and clean up our act. But that’s all it is: an act – an imitation self.
You know, a farmer doesn’t vacuum up the dirt to prepare for the seed. A housewife does, to impress visitors. But the farmer actually works to expose the dirt to the seed. And then, the seed vacuums up the dirt, exposing it to light and turning it into a tree and the tree bears fruit and the fruit contains more seed.
So, woe to you, if you hide your dirt in a hard heart, filled with stones and covered in thorns. Woe to you if you hide for fear of what people might say, or fear of what you might suffer, or fear of losing control, “the anxiety of the age.” Woe to you, for you will be rototilled!
Matthew 13: 23
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
So Jesus looked at his twelve very flawed disciples and the women with Mary of Magdalene and He said, “Blessed!” “Blessed are the Dirtbags.” “Blessed are you.” (Matthew 13:16-17)
But, blessed are you that are already broken and so surrender yourself (your dirt) to the Seed, for now you can hear the Word, “I Am your salvation” –“I AM Love, and you are my beloved.” When you hear it, you will no longer be proud, you will be grateful and you will grow fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith. People will taste the fruit, and there is Seed in the fruit, so those people will begin to believe “God is Salvation”– Jesus!
Think about your dirt.
Think about all the crap that might be surrounding you today.
You don’t need to hide it.
You don’t need to clean it up.
Instead, let the Eternal Seed breathe life into your dirt–your earthen vessel.
Surrender to the Eternal Seed, and watch Him make you fruitful.
And meditate on this: “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’” (1 Peter 1:23-25a)
This devotional was prepared by Peter’s assistant, Kimberly Weynen. To dig into these things further, click on the link to read the whole transcript, watch or listen the sermon: Blessed Are The Dirtbags