Posts Tagged ‘God’s grace’


Sowing Seeds of Faith


God does not reserve God’s goodness only for those who respond in the way God hopes…

The Foolish Farmer
A Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, with allusions to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Sunday, July 26, 2020

Farmers can’t control every variable, but there are things they can do to make a good harvest more likely. This time when I went home my brother Charles and I talked a lot about soil management at the farm, crop rotation and such. He was filling out reports on what he has planted in every field this year. We also talked about what he and his co-worker have been doing to condition the soil more deeply. It gets compacted over the years, and it has to be loosened.

One strategy that Charles has used, though not this year, is to plant giant radishes in a field between the crop seasons. These radishes grow to the size of baseball bats, and they push deep into the soil and break it up. Eventually they decompose, adding organic matter to the soil.

A farmer went out to plant, Jesus said to the crowd, and it quickly became apparent that this farmer was not like the wise farmers we know. There was no strategic plan, no soil analysis, and no soil preparation. Instead he threw seeds willy-nilly everywhere. Some landed on the path, where the soil was hard and needed something like the giant radish treatment to break it up. Those seeds never germinated. Birds quickly got them. Some landed where the soil was too thin to support the emerging plants, and they withered. Some landed in the weeds, and the weeds choked the seedlings. Thank goodness some seeds landed in promising ground, where they germinated, grew, and brought forth an abundant harvest: thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.

What foolishness is this? What true farmer has seed to waste? Not in the real world. It’s clear Jesus is talking about a different world here. Jesus is inviting his listeners into the parable zone, where deceptively simple little stories challenge our usual assumptions, where the values and priorities often turn out to be different, and where worldly wisdom sometimes gets turned on its head. In the parable zone, for example, workers who get hired at the eleventh hour get paid the same as those who have toiled all day. In the parable zone, wayward sons who have thrown their lives away get treated like royalty. In the parable zone, farmers foolishly broadcast seed any and everywhere. “Let those who have ears, listen,” Jesus said.

Those who do listen and walk around in the parable zone, who wrestle with the strange things they see there, learn something about the kingdom of God, where God is in charge, about the great farm where God is the farmer in charge. They learn the strange wisdom of God.

God the great farmer isn’t worried about wasting seeds. The seeds of God’s great faithfulness, mercy, and love truly are unlimited. God is determined to sow good seed everywhere whether it is well-received or not. It is the great farmer’s nature to sow the seeds of love broadly, reaching out to all. God does not reserve God’s goodness only for those who respond in the way God hopes.

Jesus stepped out to sow God’s love in this way. He sowed his word and his teaching generously everywhere. He shared God’s gifts of love generously, everywhere, even in places and with people that some pious onlookers believed Jesus shouldn’t be wasting his time on. Often it was the outsiders, people who could not hide the pain and mess of their lives who were the most receptive. They turned out to be the most fertile ground for Jesus’ message.

Unfortunately, some of the religious leaders who knew the scriptures best turned out to be the least receptive. How dare Jesus be so soft and loose on the law of God! How dare he throw grace and forgiveness around so willy-nilly! Jesus ought to get tough on sinners, which is what they themselves decided to do: get tough on Jesus. By the middle of Matthew 12, just before the array of kingdom parables we are now exploring, this powerful contingent of scripture experts was plotting to destroy Jesus, like he was some kind of noxious weed. (more…)

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