(This is a short series on the parable of the soils.)
I talk to lots of people who talk about Jesus.
They wonder where he is.
They wonder what he means by what he said. They say, “It’s hard to believe that he wants us to do this or that.” They say, “I’m not sure that he really meant what he said.” And then we say that if we saw him, if we heard him, we would believe him.
I understand that desire to look him in the face and talk with him.
But I’m not sure that we would necessarily believe him, just because we saw him.
Think about it for a moment. Jesus talked to lots of people. He talked in clear language and confusing, to religious and political leaders, to insiders and outcasts, to people almost exactly like us in our diversity.
Some of those people believed what he said and did it. Some of them started to and then walked away. Some of them killed him.
Different responses to Jesus aren’t based on seeing him face-to-face. The differences are in our hearts and minds.
Jesus told a story to explain these different responses. It was a farming story, familiar to anyone who has ever walked in a field or planted grass in a yard. It’s possible that as Jesus told this story, some people could see a farmer in a nearby field.
A farmer, Jesus says, went out to sow seeds. The farmer was broadcasting the seeds, taking a handful at a time and tossing them. The way my grandfather did when he planted hay. It doesn’t take any equipment. It’s generous with seed.
It’s generous with seed. But it’s inefficient. Seed goes everywhere.
Some of the seed, Jesus says, falls on the path that the neighbors had worn through the field as the shortest distance between one town and another. It doesn’t sink in. The birds have a field day.
Some seeds drop on rocky soil. Rocks are working their way to the surface. Or part of the field hasn’t been cleared of the stones. There is a thin layer of dirt, enough for the seed to germinate and one small blade to start. But not enough for roots to dig deep for water. And in the heat of the Mideast sun, the plants shrivel.
Some seeds drop in with the weed seeds, which grow faster. They spread out to the sun. They suck up the water. They are bullies. We have a garden we walk past where the weeds often overtake the tomatoes.
Some seed falls where the soil is friable and fertilized, where the farmers have worked for generations to break up the clumps and clear out the stones and pull out the weeds as soon as they start.
Go read the story. I’ll have more tomorrow.