Which ‘seed’ are you? MATTHEW 13:1–23
By Anne Marie Richardson
In the preceding chapter of Matthew’s Gospel those hostile Pharisees had tried to undermine Jesus’ claim of being the Messiah but, as before, He had mastered their ploys and had moved on to the boat to address the crowds that were following Him.
And so, in this His third major discourse, Jesus speaks in parables which are meant to teach lessons to His hearers even as they harken back to the prophecy of Isaiah (Matt 13:14–15). Jesus’ parables were stories that would be listened to and would be interpreted at each person’s spiritual level. Some would’ve found the parable as simply an entertaining story, while others would’ve found it intriguing, challenging, or even disturbing, because they were all at different stages of spiritual readiness—as it certainly is with us today.
These stories could’ve been a source of comfort to the afflicted, or they could even have afflicted the comfortable.
The story He then told was of a sower who had gone out to sow his seeds; these had fallen on varying types of soil and had noticeably produced a variety of yields, depending on the ground on which they had fallen.
The first seeds had fallen on the edge of the path where they were easily available to the birds; the next set had fallen on rocky ground where there was little depth of soil to sustain them; the third set had fallen among thorns which subsequently grew up and choked them; but the last set had produced the most promising results since they had fallen on rich soil and had given rise to produce in varying degrees of abundance.
When His disciples had asked Him why He was speaking to the people in that format, His response seemed to indicate that He was meeting the people at a level they would understand. Their spiritual dispositions did not permit them to enter more deeply into the mysteries of the Kingdom at that time but, by contrast, His own disciples, because of their close association with Him, were capable of interpreting the parables at a deeper level (Matt 13:11–12).
As He unpacked the parable, He likened it to the varied responses people made to hearing God’s Word. Some did not understand and were easily distracted; others were without depth or substance and quickly fell away because they were not rooted; while others chose to give preference to the attractions of the world. But there were those in whom the Word had found a home and they produced fruit in varying degrees.
As a parable is meant to do, this story makes us look within and ask ourselves at which of the four levels we are in our personal journey. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the devil is very present in our lives (1 Pt 5:8), and he is about his business of unsettling us so that God’s Word doesn’t take root within us at all.
Is the Holy Spirit an integral part of our lives so that our eyes are opened to Satan’s devices and we can be strengthened, empowered, and enabled to withstand those same devices (1 Jn 5:19–20)?
Our degree of openness to the indwelling Holy Spirit would ensure that we understand the Word of God, that the Word is rooted within us, and that we are not easily distracted by the cares of the world.
It is as we live the Word, we are able to share it so as to ensure the growth of the Kingdom. May God’s Word resound in our hearts as we live the hymn, “God’s Spirit is in my heart. He has called me and set me apart…”
The gospel meditations for July are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator, and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster