How Lowly Are the Shepherds – Episode 6 – Rev. Mary Etta Mest Podcast – Mary Etta Mest Podcast
Is the seed alive?
A hard path, a rocky ground, thorns, finally good soil! All part of a Jesus parable. You might ask, “What is a parable?” Jesus had a way of using ordinary stories to explain how he thought people should live.
So in Matthew 13, verses 1-9 and 18-23, Jesus is using the example of planting seeds. If people are careless where they scatter seeds the results will be less than good.
Case 1: The seeds fall on a path. They are soon pushed aside by walking feet and eaten by hungry birds.
Case 2: The seeds fall on rocky ground. They burst open and produce green beginnings but then wither from lack of a place to grow roots.
Case 3: The seeds fall where weeds are growing and the weeds choke the good seeds which are trying to get their share of sun and rain.
Case 4: These seeds are lucky. They happen to fall on good soil: nice and soft for their roots, for some reason no weeds, so they don’t need to share the rain and the sun.
Good soil! The sower of the seed can be very happy about this last scenario! Hundreds of new seeds will be produced from each seed that landed in good soil.
And after saying that much, Jesus leaves the crowd and becomes secluded with his disciples. Of course, they know there is more to this story, this parable, than Jesus told the crowd. The disciples clamor for the real dirt on this case.
So Jesus relates the kinds of places where seeds land to the people who hear the word of God.
Case 1: Path: Some people are simply not ready to hear the Word. They have no background to bring to this idea. The word quickly disappears unused.
Case 2: Rocky Soil: Some people are like the rocky soil. They are quick with enthusiasm but that quickly subsides because they do not have the right nourishment to give the word. They think it is exciting for the moment but not for the long haul.
Case 3: Weeds and Thorns: Some people are not focused on what is good for them. They are distracted by all the gods of the world such as ill-conceived movies and books and social media and gaming that distracts them from focusing on the right path to the one true God! They are choked by these weeds, by the evil of the world.
Case 4: Good Soil: These are the people who have a background in the productive way of living. Their hearts are prepared and eager to hear more about the good way to live; the way that is truly helpful to other people as well as to themselves. The path that will lead to Jesus. Not that this
path is promised to be easy. But it is the path where we will find Jesus walking beside us. When the path becomes problematic, Jesus is there to carry us or show us a hidden solution, or protect us or comfort us when the path seems more like a canyon with humongous thorn plants.
That is when Jesus comes along with his staff and gently rescues us from the canyon. “My word!” I proclaim aloud when I feel myself replaced on the soft, green grass of solid ground. “My Lord Jesus!” I say, “How do you do that every time?” And I start to dance because I am saved once again. How can I show my thanks instead of just using words and dancing? For what is Jesus looking and waiting and expecting from me in my spiritual richness?
This is where our lives produce good grain. This is where we find ourselves noticing the hunger, the pain, the barefeet and rags for clothing, the untreated COVID. This is where we notice the injustice that has been happening under our noses since we were born. This is when we notice the people who are not ready to receive the seed, the holy word, not having the faintest idea why Jesus is the person to know instead of the person who is throwing a questionable party.
This is when we notice the lack of confidence in the rocky-soil people, eager to get started but no experience of knowledge of how to “hang in,” how to send roots for a new kind of living. This is when we notice the people who are overwhelmed with life; no idea how to climb up the sides of the canyon; choked by life. Can we be a Jesus for them? Can we walk with them and pull some of the thorns to let the light shine on them; to make their path clear?
We need to be careful that we are not being choked while we are trying to unchoke the downtrodden ones. Who is stepping on me; who has a hold on me in this earnest endeavor of rescue. It is the closed minds, the generations-long prejudices, it is even my own conversation and remarks which are blocking the rescue. Satan is surely taking his turn on my back.
We, who profess to worship one God, are not consistent as good soil. We come and go from the various kinds of soil. It is God alone, who can steady us, whose word is seed for us. It is God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who oversees and guides us, transforming us as we walk along the path that leads to the heavenly kingdom where all soil is good and fertile for all souls, not just the rich or the white or the powerful, but for all souls.
Isaiah 55, verses 10-13, provide the ultimate vision of the seeds and the sower and all creation.
Isaiah 55:10-13 God speaks,
- “Rain and snow fall from the sky.But they don’t return without watering the earththat produces seeds to plant and grain to eat.
- That’s how it is with my words.They don’t return to me without doing everythingI send them to do.”
- When you are set free, you will celebrateand travel home in peace. Mountains and hills will sing as you pass by,and trees will clap.
- Cypress and myrtle trees will grow in fields
once covered by thorns. Then those trees will stand as a lasting witness
to the glory of the Lord.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society