(Seeds being delivered to the flood-ravaged Rio Coco area of Nicaragua)
The Extravagant Sower
by Bishop Chris Giesler
Preaching Text: Matthew 11:1-9, 18-23
Jesus does the work for the preacher in this week’s text. He gives us the parable and then provides us with the answer to the riddle. But then again, while it is easy to see what Jesus is getting at here, it is another thing to put it into practice. I have come to understand that the parable is misnamed. We often hear this parable called the “Parable of the Sower.” But I don’t think that name gives the parable true justice. It should be named “The Parable of the Extravagant Sower” or “The Parable of The Soil.” For these are the two main foci of the passage.
But before we get too deep into the weeds here (to use a bit of farmer-talk), let me say that the aim of the Christian life is to know God, love God, serve God, and produce fruit for the kingdom of God. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. At the end of the season, we want to see God’s grace extended through these wonderful gifts.
With that said, let’s get back to the parable. Again, we have God as the sower, and the seed is God’s grace and love being spread all over humanity. Yes, it means that we are dirt!
More to the point, God is an extravagant sower; some would say a not-very-smart sower. After all, why would the sower toss seed on soil packed down underfoot, full of rocks, or full of thorns and weeds? Now, I am not a professional gardener; hard-pressed to call me an amateur gardener, but I know enough not to go out into my yard and throw seeds around. I have a little tomato garden, and to make that garden several years ago, I took the grass off the top of the soil, and I then rented a rototiller to turn the ground over and soften it up, making it very receptive to the seeds we planted.
But it seems like we have a very funny farmer here; he’s just throwing seed hither and yon. So of if God is the sower, we should expect to see that we are the soil. So, if you think you are not worthy of God’s grace, think again. God is indiscriminate about it. He tosses seed here, and he throws seed there. A smart farmer would have been careful to keep his expensive seed only on the well-tilled soil as I did!
In this case, some of the seed lands on hard soil and trampled underfoot. The ground is so hard that the seeds cannot penetrate it, so the birds come and feast, and there is no yield at all. These hearts have been made impenetrable by the school of hard knocks. Hearts made hard being mistreated by others. Hearts made hard by us treating others poorly. Hearts that refuse to see the potential of God’s grace.
Then there are the seeds growing in a place with far too much competition for the necessary nourishment. Weeds and thorns rob the sun, water, and the earth’s valuable nutrients. Jesus says that worry and wealth are the two biggest culprits in our lives. It was true 2000 years ago; amazing how true that is today. Actually, wealth brings with it a whole host of worries.
Then there is the rocky ground with just enough soil for the seed to germinate and begin growing, but it soon withers when the sun comes baking down, when the winds blow, and when a hard rain comes, it can’t survive. This is the Christian that enthusiastically jumps on board the bandwagon when life is good but when the stresses and strains of life come along fade away.
No matter the present condition of the soil of our souls, it does not have to stay this way. God can transform us, and it begins with a simple invitation on our part. Come, Lord Jesus, Come and change my heart.
The hard-packed soil can be tilled, turned over, and made into fertile soil.
The weeds can be removed.
The rocky soil… well wait, maybe the analogy breaks down here. But maybe not. The Appalachian Mountains are believed to have been the highest mountains on earth roughly 460 million years ago during the Ordovician Period, much higher than the Himalayas today. But over the years, they have been worn down by rain, snow, and ice. God’s grace can change even the most stubborn places in our hearts.
God can and will throw the seeds of grace, mercy, and peace all over the place. The aim of the Christian Life is to know God, to love God, to serve God, and to produce fruit for the kingdom of God. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.