Seed and Soil

Evening Devotion October 27 Matthew 13:1-9

If you ever have the opportunity to be in Nazareth, you must visit “The Nazareth Experience”. Its a small area which has been restored back to the time of Jesus. It is operated by a Christian Palestinian family who take you through the garden and buildings telling the parables of Jesus. Suddenly you realise that these were not just random stories which Jesus told, they drew their inspiration from the surroundings – the fields, the birds, the sower, the soil.

The particular parable in the Scripture reading today is about the seed that falls on different kinds of soil. Whe I first heard the story I thought that this was a pretty stupid farmer who sowed at random, apparently without preparing the field. When we walked along this steep slope at the Nazareth Experience I understood. The fields in that part of the world are not flat and uniform. On the slope the farmer must bank up soil against the rock – yes, there are parts that are good but not much. A bit of soil in a shallow hollow, some places where its not much good to grow anything except weeds, the path along which the sower must walk to find the good spots where the growth will be best.

Of course, Jesus used the scenario to tell the story of our hearts. And our hearts often seem to have this same kind of mixed up condition. There is the hard part – its where we most often walk. We walk carelessly and we spend little time doing any preparation on that part of our lives. Its that part of our lives where we take things for granted, we could walk that way blindfolded. Nothing grows there and even if good news were to fall in this “everyday” part of our lives it will not take root – the devil will come and take it away. That’s a sadness, because it seems to me that this is an important part of life – the way we walk. We should take more care there. How many paths in our life could be “good soil” but have become hardened by our careless walking over it? Do we even see the possibility of good news growth there anymore?

Then there are the rocky places. We have put some stones in place and filled the hollows with soil but often it is too shallow, especially around the edges. There are some deep places at the centre but the edges are shallow and round the edges of our life there is also no place for the good news to take root. So when the heat is on, we begin to die from the outside in.

In some places only weeds grow. Resentment and bitterness, anger and envy. Even if the seed does fall there, it gets choked by our bad attitude. Good news does not grow in places like that.

So where is the good soil. Well there are patches. You have to know where they are, you have to make sure that most of the seed goes there. Not much happens in the other places without much work. You could clear our the weeds, you could walk on the rocky outcrops rather than on the potentially good soil, or you could cart in new earth and cover up everything so that it is all good soil. Well, when the Bible talks about a new heaven and a new earth, I guess it that is when our Lord has done all the engineering and covered up the hard and rocky places, killed all the weeds and made our hearts ready to receive the fullness of the gospel of grace.

Right now though, we have much work to do. Each one of us. It is by repentance that the great gardener begins the process of preparing our hearts. Where have you been hard-hearted? Where have you allowed the weeds and troubles of life to choke up any grace in you? Where is it that you say that you have good soil but are really quite shallow?

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