Scripture Reading: While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:4-15
As I was winding down my career in project management, and before I joined the staff at St. Aidan’s, I dabbled at being a background performer, an extra in films and TV shows that were being filmed in and around Winnipeg. It was something I’d never done before and it was fun seeing how films were made. All the planning and logistics that go into making a movie were very reminiscent of managing projects. There was also something exciting about being a part of the action in bringing a story to life, seeing it practiced and performed, and finally experiencing the audience’s reaction when the final production was performed. It’s that last part that’s thrilling because you don’t know how people will respond until it actually happens.
Living a faithful Christian life is a lot like the process of film acting. God is both the executive producer and director, the script is the Bible, and we are the actors. We meet with the living God as the Spirit guides us in understanding his word. We study and meditate on Scripture verses and passages. We grow both in our knowledge of God and in recognizing his plan for our lives. Up to this point, however, it’s just rehearsal because as important as it is to develop our relationship with God, at some point, we need to live out our faith on life’s stage.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus teaches us that we can respond to His word in a variety of ways. One person might receive His Word in very shallow way, and allow the devil to steal the word away from them. That is, they heard the Word of God but they never respond to it, they are indifferent to it. The next person might receive it somewhat deeper than the first, but abandons the Word when life gets hard. They believe for a while but then fall away. The third person holds onto the Word a while longer, but eventually, life’s worries and pleasures take precedence over the word. The soil in this case symbolizes the person who worries too much, or seeks wealth and pleasure in this life at the expense their relationship with God. Initially, they hear the gospel and respond in some way. They might even attend church, but they show no spiritual growth and this person never produces any spiritual fruit.
It’s the fourth type of soil, or person, that Jesus holds up as the ideal. These are the people who hear God’s Word and let it do its work within them, “and by persevering, produce a crop”. This soil symbolizes true Christians because they do produce spiritual fruit. They follow Christ as the example of how we are to live out our faith on life’s stage as a genuine response to the Good News of the Gospel.
Like the people in the parable, we who have heard the Word are called to be fruitful. The Bible is meant to inform our approach to the world and to rouse us to take action to build God’s kingdom. How we live out our faith will look different for each of us, but we are all directed by the Word of God. Praise be to our God and King!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.