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JR. Forasteros - Jun 9, 2013
Four Soils of the Soul
From Series: "Seeds of the Kingdom"
Jesus spoke in parables to invite us to consider the surprising challenge and offer of his new life more fully. In June, we look at four parables were Jesus talks about the Kingdom as a seed. What is this small, seemingly insignificant Kingdom? And what sort of new life will it grow into? Join us as we explore the seeds of the kingdom!
More From "Seeds of the Kingdom"
While Jesus lived among us, he constantly announced a new reality everywhere he went. He spent much of his teaching describing it. Jesus most often described this new kingdom to his listeners using stories we call parables. The stories were surprising, energizing and fresh. They announced that what Jesus was doing is good news: God is doing a new thing and you’re invited to be a part of it!
One of his most famous – and confusing – is in Matthew 13:
Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. — Matthew 13:3-9
So we have a farmer who’s out sowing seed. Ancient farmers wore sacks around their torsos (pic?), and they walked their fields casting out the seed. In Jesus’ day, this would’ve been a very familiar image – most of his listeners had probably done this very thing at some point in their lives. The seed falls on four different kinds of soils, with four different results. A couple of details stick out as odd: First, the sower is very irresponsible with the seed. In the ancient world, where rain and sun were unreliable and crop yields unpredictable, every seed was precious. Each seed represented potential food and income for your family (and food and income in a preindustrial culture were very scarce). So farmers were very careful with their seed. They sought out and cultivated the best soil. Since so much was out of their power, they did everything that was in their power to give their seed the best chance to grow.
Not this farmer. He’s out in his fields, throwing both caution and seed to the wind. Any of Jesus’ early listeners would’ve marveled (or scoffed) at this farmer’s generosity (or recklessness) with his seed.
The other surprising detail is the yield of the good soil – 30, 60 or 100 times what was planted. For these ancient farmers, the best yield they would ever hope for would be 30 times as much grain as was planted. A 30-fold harvest would be so huge, so big and so rare that it’d be the one all other harvests would be compared to. Remember back in the day when we got the 30-fold harvest? Wow. That was miraculous!
And this farmer gets a minimum of thirty? He gets twice, more than triple that? Practically unimaginable!