Parables of Matthew
With a little more experience in blogging after these months, I’ve begun to understand why bloggers choose themes and plan out significantly the posts. I too will be doing so, and welcome suggestions, questions or thoughts on the articles you’d like me to write. Please let me know by commenting on this post or sending me an email. Thanks :-)
The month of August we will look at the parables of Matthew, thrice weekly as planned.
The Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13: 2-8, 18-23
This chapter of Matthew begins with there being such a large crowd that Jesus gets in a boat to speak to them all, while they stay on shore. It is no wonder that Jesus would do this, as the water will amplify his voice and assist in carrying the sound. Would we have considered this when addressing a crowd? I’m not sure I would have, maybe I would have looked to turn over a boat and have Jesus stand on top of it to elevate him. But the One who created all and established the science that the earth thrives under would of course know that entering the boat and going out a ways on the water would create the best environment for his teachings.
The parable of the sower is so often summarized as the four types of people who hear the word:
1) The Word is stolen away by the birds (the stolen)
2) The ground is rocky, so the roots are shallow and the plants wither quickly (the shallow)
3) Some plants grow among thorns and get choked out (the choked)
4) Other plants fall on good soil and produce well (the understanding)
I have indicated in parentheses a term to describe each person; the stolen, shallow, choked, and understanding.
I think when we consider this parable it is easy to say that we are a part of the final category, the understanding. After all, we are here seeking Christ. But, I find that we must challenge ourselves to consider the parables as they relate to us, in their entirety, not just in part.
I propose that we are always, or nearly so, all four of the above types. Have you ever read, oh, the book of Numbers, and felt that you were part of the understanding or rather the shallow? I’ve been reading through the book of Joshua and I don’t think I could say that the division of lands for the tribes of Israel brought the joy of the Word and grew a plant, not even enough to wither away. It wasn’t until Christ prodded me to apply this to myself that I found joy and some level of understanding in reading it. I realized that God knew and had outlined exactly where each Israelite tribe and even family would settle.
As my husband and I are now signing a lease and settling in a new land ourselves, this came to have new meaning. God has identified a place, designed out who and what surrounds us, setting forth many things to see that we are in the place he designed for us. So, as we sign and commit to years at this new flat, it is uplifting to consider that Jesus has already walked here in preparation of our coming. We have our delineated boundaries of the flat, and within that we are where we ought to be. The territory, if grassy land or hilly or rocky, is what we have been given to carry out His will. This is not the first time that I have read Joshua, but I think it is the first time that I have felt more understanding and connection to the living word found in this book (other than ‘be strong and courageous’ or ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’).
I think at different times of our lives, we can find ourselves receptive or worried, understanding or choked, when hearing his Word. We may go through the motions, but that does not mean that we are growing and producing in all areas of our lives. We may welcome some passages with joy but forget them in the morning or in a week, being one of the shallow.
Even being a part of the understanding type should cause us to reflect. How do we know we are a part of the understanding? This implies more than just a cerebral ‘I understand’. Growing and producing 10, 60 or 100 times what was sown, requires a season. Following the growth is the harvest, more seeds planted, dying and resurrecting. There is a cycle which requires time and hindsight to understand fully and evaluate adequately if we are indeed producing and seed has fallen on good soil.
So, I don’t want to point fingers at anyone but myself. I know that I have fallen into each of the four types of people who hear the word, at various times in my life and probably even at various times of one day! On the whole, we must strive for the understanding type: seek to understand the Word. Seeking to understand the word is what will make us grow and produce 30, 60, 100 times the original seed.