Most Monday afternoons find me at Nueva Creatura, a drug and alcohol rehab center in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico. Last Monday I began a new Bible study series on the parables of Jesus. I gave a general introduction on the different types of parables. This next Monday I plan on talking about the parable of the sower, the seed and the soil. This  parable, I think is critical for understanding most of the other parables.

This is the first parable to be found in Matthew. Matthew put it there on purpose so that his readers would gain insight on the parables that were to follow. The story is about seed falling on different types of ground. When Jesus was finished telling this story, his disciples had no idea what he was talking about. They asked him to explain. He not only explains the parable, but also the reason he would use parables as part of his teaching style.

On one hand he told parables to make it easier for his audience to understand. On the other hand, parables would make it difficult to understand.

The word “parable” means along side, or beside. Jesus, when he told parables, he would take a concept or idea, that people were familiar with, and put it beside a concept that they didn’t know so much about, generally, The Kingdom of God. His audience was intimately knowledgeable about agriculture, so most of his parables had something to do with crops or livestock.

This was the part that was easy to understand. The hard part was making the connection to the kingdom of God.

In the parable of the soils, or the sower, Jesus said that the seed was the message about the kingdom.  The seed that fell on the path and was eaten by birds, represents people who like the story, but have no interest in figuring out what it means.

The seed that fell on rocky soil represents people who get excited about the great story and imagine they understand the connection with the kingdom, but soon after, they get excited about something else, and forget Jesus’ story.

The seed and the weedy soil represents people who at first seem to understand the connection between the story and the kingdom, and grow, but then the worries of life and materialistic desires get in the way and they bear no fruit.

The seed and the good soil represents people who make the connection between the story and the kingdom, and their lives are radically changed. Their mindset and their behavior go in a new direction, embracing the kingdom and their lives bear much fruit. Goodness and joy are multiplied many times over.

Jesus’ following parables are all about the kingdom of God. Those people who spent time in prayer and meditation and “got” the first parable, would find the next ones easier to understand.

Let us consider the parables and all of Jesus’ words prayerfully so that we too might bear much fruit.

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