This week at New Life, we are continuing our exploration of what it means to be a disciple of the Kingdom of God. This week, we continue following the lectionary which is taking us through the teachings of Jesus.
One of the distinctive features of Jesus’ teaching was his use of parables. Parables were stories that used everyday events and items to explain deeper truths. Unfortunately for us, many of his illustrations are not part of our everyday life so we miss the surprises that are hidden in these seemingly innocent stories. But Jesus’ parables also had a surprise ending for his original hearers—the enemy is the neighbor, a small mustard seed produces a great plant, weeds are allowed to grow along with the wheat.
Jesus is speaking to a large crowd from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus has been called Beelzebub by a group of Pharisees and, soon after this sermon, he will be rejected by the people of his hometown.
Try to read this scripture with fresh eyes and look for the surprises that are hidden in it.
13That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”• What is the most surprising moment in this parable for you?
18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 NRSV”
• What does this parable tell us about the nature of God?
• What is Jesus trying to say to the crowds?
• If the seed is the “word of the Kingdom” what does this say to those of us who are his disciples?