Lesson Forty Five
STORIES ABOUT SEEDS
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I think the world might be divided into two groups—those who like to garden and those who do not. I confess to being in the latter group. I have no interest in helping things to grow, but I know many people who do, and I have benefited from their produce. What makes it all the more disgraceful is that I’m descended from a farming family!
The lesson this week is on the Parable of the Sower. A prerequisite for each of these devotionals, if you haven’t noticed, is that they are to present something “new.” It is because of a mandate from my partner, my oldest daughter, who was the initiator of this whole project. “Write something that’s new—that I’ve never heard before,” she said. It’s become the most enjoyable and frustrating Bible study challenge I’ve ever had, yet has opened up my mind in ways I would never have thought before. But this parable had me stumped. Along with the Good Samaritan, it’s one of the most popular. People preach it, teach it, and can recite it from memory. What kind of “new” could I find?
The Parable of the Sower isn’t focused on the Sower at all, but the soil.
The Parable of the Sower is an interesting title, since it isn’t focused on the Sower at all, but the soil. The seed falls on four different soils—the edge of the road, stone, thorns, and good soil. The result, as we know, doesn’t go well for three of the four. Only the good soil produced a good crop. In the parable, the Sower is Jesus, the seed is the Word, and the soil would be those who receive the Word.
But let me suggest a different perspective. God gives us our children. They belong to Him first, and we are granted the privilege of raising them or can we say “growing them” for Him. We, as parents (or non-parents), are the Sower’s assistants. We are the gardeners assigned a plot that assures the plants are tended and nurtured. Suddenly the soil becomes exceedingly important. As the gardener, what kind of soil are we providing? Is it rich in Bible stories, family worship, Sabbath School attendance, family meals, nature walks, and other ways to point them to the Sower? Where is their education—in a school with a Biblical worldview or one cluttered with worldly perspectives? Or is it possible that the busyness of life has caused us to crowd the soil so that the young roots can’t dig deep?
Is it possible the busyness of life has caused us to crowd the soil so that the young roots can’t dig deep?
As a mother of grown children, I can attest to the need to provide your children the opportunity to grow deep roots. At some point the gardening opportunities will diminish, although parenting never is completely finished. It will be those long roots into the good soil that determines our children’s ability to survive all that the world will throw at them. Shallow roots may cause the child to drift when the storms, rocks, and thorns of life make their appearance.
This week let’s put on our gardening gloves, get out the trowel, and remove the weeds that may be choking the plants entrusted to our care. We will be renewed as we watch them grow for the Sower.
Matthew reveals five discourses (lengthy speeches). The first was the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The second is called the Mission Discourse (chap. 10). The one studied this week is the Parabolic Discourse. The last two are the Community Discourse (chap. 18) and the Olivet Discourse (chaps. 24-25).
This lengthy sermon is comprised of illustration after illustration in the form of parables. In them Jesus is speaking not only to His disciples but to a large crowd with two goals. The first is to move the crowd toward making a decision. Will they accept His message and follow Him? Or will they follow the religious teachers of the day.
The second is to help them understand the nature of His kingdom. It is not to re-establish the throne of David, but to seek God in their heart. Once they have given their heart to God, they will find entrance to His kingdom. By teaching in parables, Jesus makes both more relatable, although the disciples still needed to ask the meaning.
Making it Real
If you are following the calendar year in this devotional study and live in the United States, you are probably experiencing colder, winter weather. So, this suggestion might be more challenging to accomplish, but it would be a natural thing to illustrate the parable of Jesus. Go to a hardware store and buy a package of seeds. Tomatoes are fairly easy to start indoors.
You can do one of two things. You can simply plant some seeds in a pot indoors and water and care for the plant. How can you relate this to your spiritual life. How do we feed and water ourselves spiritually?
If you’re really ambitious, create four pots. Plant some seeds on the edge of the first pot. Literally near, but above the soil line. Plant some seeds in the second pot, but fill the pot with more rocks than soil. For the third pot, put seeds in the soil, but add things to block the seeds—put anything you like on top of them, making water difficult to get to them. And then, of course, the last pot has nice rich unobstructed soil.
What happens as you water the seeds? Talk with your family about the parable and which soil represents which kind of heart.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.