Peace Covenant Presbyterian

Sermons and Such | Church updates | Information you can use

LUKE 8:4-15| JUNE 10, 2018

June 11, 2018
Posted by Office Staff

 

 

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER DEBUNKED

LUKE 8:4-15

JUNE 10, 2018

 

ONE OF MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2018 WAS TO WATCH A TED TALK EVERY DAY AND LEARN SOMETHING NEW.

 

LIKE MOST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, I’VE FAILED TO STICK TO MY PROMISE OF EVERY DAY, AND IT’S TURNED OUT TO BE, PROBABLY, TWO TO THREE TIMES A WEEK.

 

FOR ANY OF YOU WHO ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH TED TALKS – TED IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEVOTED TO SPREADING IDEAS, USUALLY IN THE FORM OF SHORT, POWERFUL TALKS, IN THE AREAS OF TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT, AND DESIGN – T -E -D.   THEY ARE FREE TO WATCH.

 

THOUSANDS OF THEM HAVE BEEN GIVEN, AND RECORDED, ON ALMOST EVERY TOPIC IMAGINABLE, FROM SCIENCE TO BUSINESS TO GLOBAL ISSUES, IN MORE THAN 100 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES, BY BOTH PROFESSIONALS AND EXPERTS IN THEIR FIELDS, AND EVERYDAY PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME.

 

I WANT TO START THIS MORNING BY BRIEFLY TELLING YOU ABOUT ONE OF THEM I WATCHED, AND REALLY, MOSTLY ABOUT THE PERSON’S OPENING STORY, AND HER CONCLUSIONS ABOUT HER OWN STORY, AND THAT OF HER DAUGHTER, AND ALL OUR STORIES.

 

HEATHER LANIER BEGINS BY TELLING AN ANCIENT PARABLE, AND THAT IS WHERE I WILL BEGIN AS WELL.

 

THE PARABLE GOES LIKE THIS:

 

A MAN LOSES A HORSE, AND ALL OF HIS NEIGHBORS COME OVER AND SAY TO HIM: “OH, THAT’S TOO BAD.”  BUT THE MAN RESPONDS: “GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.”

 

THE NEXT DAY, THE RUNAWAY HORSE RETURNS, BRINGING WITH HIM, SEVEN WILD HORSES, AND THE NEIGHBORS COME OVER AND SAY TO HIM: “OH, THAT’S WONDERFUL.  YOU’RE SO LUCKY.  THAT’S SO GOOD.”  BUT THE MAN RESPONDS: “GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.”

 

THE NEXT DAY THE MAN’S SON IS RIDING ONE OF THE WILD HORSES, IS THROWN, AND BREAKS HIS LEG, AND ALL THE NEIGHBORS COME OVER AND SAY TO HIM: “OH, THAT’S TERRIBLE.  WE’RE SO SORRY.  THAT’S TOO BAD.”  BUT THE MAN RESPONDS: “GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.”

 

THE NEXT DAY OFFICERS COME, KNOCKING ON EVERYONE’S DOORS, CONSCRIPTING ALL THE YOUNG MEN INTO SERVICE, FORCING THEM TO FIGHT IN THE WAR.

 

THEY SEE THE FARMER’S SON, WITH HIS BROKEN LEG, AND PASS HIM BY.  AND THE MAN’S NEIGHBORS COME OVER AND SAY: “OH, HOW LUCKY.  HE DIDN’T HAVE TO GO.  THAT’S SO GOOD.”  AND THE MAN RESPONDS: “GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.”

 

  1. LANIER TELLS THIS STORY AS A WAY OF DEMONSTRATING THAT LIFE IS RARELY THAT CUT AND DRY; BLACK AND WHITE; GOOD OR BAD; THAT LIFE IS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT; AND THAT GOES FOR OUR LIVES AS WELL.

 

SHE THEN TELLS THE STORY OF HER INFANT DAUGHTER BORN WITH A RARE GENETIC DISORDER CALLED WOLF-HORSCHHORN SYNDROME WHICH CAUSES SEVERE DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS;

 

AND HOW THE PARABLE APPLIES TO HER DAUGHTER’S CONDITION, HER LIFE, AND THAT OF THEIR FAMILY.  GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.

 

SHE THEN DESCRIBES HOW HER DAUGHTER IS NEITHER TRAGIC, NOR GOD’S LITTLE ANGEL; JUST HUMAN.

 

HER LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, COMPLICATED, HARD, FUNNY, DIFFICULT, GOOD AND BAD, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE’S.

 

ONE OF MS. LANIER’S CONCLUSIONS IS THAT WE OUGHT TO STOP FIXATING ON SOLUTIONS, AND TAKE LIFE AS IT COMES; ANOTHER IS THAT BY SO QUICKLY LABELING THINGS AS GOOD OR BAD, WE OFTEN CUT OURSELVES OFF FROM THEM;

 

FAILING TO EXPERIENCE THEM AS THEY ARE, TO LEARN FROM THEM, TO ENDURE THEM, TO FIND THE SMALL JOYS AND SORROWS IN THEM, TO LIVE THEM.

 

WITH THIS IN MIND, I WANT TO TAKE ON JESUS’ PARABLE OF THE SOWER, SO FAMILIAR TO MOST OF US, AND DEBUNK SOME OF WHAT WE’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS PARABLE OVER THE YEARS.

 

I DO SO, NOT ARMED WITH SOME NEW KNOWLEDGE OR HISTORICAL, CONTEXTUAL BIBLICAL CRITICISM;

 

BUT RATHER, HAVING JUMPED TO THE CONCLUSION OF GOOD AND BAD, OF LABELING THE SOILS, WHERE THE SEED FALLS, TOO QUICKLY OVER THE YEARS, I’VE SIMPLY MISSED THE VERY OBVIOUS MESSAGE THAT’S HERE.  PERHAPS, YOU HAVE TOO.

 

ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF READING PASSAGES THAT ARE FAMILIAR TO US; THAT WE’VE READ HUNDREDS OF TIMES OVER THE YEARS; HEARD DOZENS OF SERMONS ABOUT;

 

IS THAT WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT THE PASSAGE SAYS; WE’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE; WE KNOW THE STORY; AND WE ALREADY KNOW THE MEANING, OR MORAL OF THE STORY – CASE CLOSED; END OF STORY; STOP LISTENING.

 

I HOPE WE’LL NOT DO THAT THIS MORNING – STICK WITH ME FOR A MOMENT, IF YOU WILL.

 

IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT PROBABLY SHOULD BE CALLED THE PARABLE OF THE SOILS – WHERE THE SEEDS FALL, RATHER THAN THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.

 

A SOWER GOES OUT TO SOW SEED: SOME FALLS ON THE PATH AND IS TRAMPLED ON, AND THE BIRDS EAT IT UP; SOME FALLS ON THE ROCK, IT SPROUTS UP, BUT WITHERS FOR LACK OF MOISTURE; SOME SEED FALLS AMONG THE THORNS AND IS CHOKED OUT; OTHER OF THE SEED FALLS IN GOOD SOIL, AND THERE IT GROWS, PRODUCING A HUNDREDFOLD.

 

“LET ANYONE WITH EARS,” JESUS SAYS, “HEAR AND LISTEN.”

 

JESUS TELLS THIS PARABLE TO HIS DISCIPLES, AND TO THE CROWD, AND LEAVES IT AT THAT.

 

AND TO MY WAY OF THINKING, THIS IS PROBABLY WHERE JESUS’ USE OF THE PARABLE ENDS.  I THINK HE’S DONE WITH IT AT THIS POINT.  I BELIEVE HE HAS LEFT IT TO THE PEOPLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IT MEANS, IN GENERAL, AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR EACH OF THEM IN PARTICULAR.

 

I THINK THIS IS HOW JESUS USED MOST OF HIS PARABLES; FOR PEOPLE TO PONDER; EVEN, AS DISCUSSION STARTERS WITH EACH OTHER, MAYBE, EVEN, WITH HIM.  IT IS, AFTER ALL, THE WAY RABBIS USE STORIES.

 

HOWEVER, THE GOSPEL OF LUKE TELLS US, THAT LATER, JESUS’ DISCIPLES ASK JESUS TO EXPLAIN THE PARABLE.  I BELIEVE THIS PART WAS ADDED LATER, BY SOMEONE OTHER THAN JESUS; TO EXPLAIN IT ALL.

 

IT’S REALLY NEITHER HERE NOR THERE WHETHER IT WAS JESUS, OR SOMEONE ELSE WHO EXPLAINS IT.  BUT I THINK IT WAS SOMEBODY ELSE, AND I’LL TELL YOU WHY IN A MINUTE.

 

BUT LUKE PROVIDES AN EXPLANATION OF JESUS’ PARABLE.

THE SOWER SOWS THE SEED; THE SEED IS THE WORD OF GOD.

 

THE ONES ON THE PATH ARE THOSE WHO HAVE HEARD, THEN THE DEVIL COMES AND TAKES AWAY THE WORD FROM THEIR HEARTS, SO THEY MAY NOT BELIEVE, AND BE SAVED.

 

THE ONES ON THE ROCK ARE THOSE WHO HEAR, RECEIVE IT WITH JOY, BUT HAVING NO ROOT, WHEN TESTING COMES, WITHER AND DIE.

 

AS FOR WHAT FALLS AMONG THE THORNS, THESE ARE THE ONES WHO HEAR, BUT AS THEY GO ON THEIR WAY, THEY ARE CHOKED BY THE CARES AND RICHES AND PLEASURES OF LIFE, AND THEIR FRUIT DOES NOT MATURE.

 

BUT AS FOR THAT IN THE GOOD SOIL, THESE ARE THE ONES WHO, WHEN THEY HEAR THE WORD, HOLD IT FAST IN AN HONEST AND GOOD HEART, AND BEAR FRUIT WITH PATIENT ENDURANCE.

 

THAT’S THE EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL OF LUKE.

 

SO, LET ME ASK YOU: DOES THIS EXPLANATION REALLY SOUND LIKE WHAT JESUS WOULD SAY?

 

AND WHILE YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT THAT, LET ME ASK YOU THIS: IS THIS EXPLANATION REALLY IN KEEPING WITH JESUS’ OTHER PARABLES – SAY THE PARABLES OF THE LOST SHEEP, THE LOST COIN, THE LOST, OR PRODIGAL SON?

 

THE EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER SAYS, IN ESSENCE, “YAY FOR THE GOOD SOIL; BOO FOR THE BAD SOILS.”

 

“YAY FOR THE WINNERS, BOO FOR THE LOSERS!”  “YAY FOR THE FAITHFUL, BOO FOR THE SINNERS!”

 

SO, LET ME ASK YOU AGAIN: DOES THAT SOUND LIKE JESUS?

 

MORE IMPORTANTLY, IS THIS HOW JESUS ACTS?  HANGING OUT ONLY WITH THE GOOD SOIL?  THE RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE?  PRAISING ONLY THE FAITHFUL PEOPLE?

 

ASSOCIATING ONLY WITH THE HEALTHY, WEALTHY, WISE AND WONDERFUL?

 

OR DO THESE WORDS FROM JESUS’ OWN WORDS, SOUND MORE LIKE HIM?  MORE LIKE WHAT HE’D DO:

 

MARK 2:17 – “THOSE WHO ARE WELL HAVE NO NEED OF A PHYSICIAN, BUT THOSE WHO ARE SICK; I HAVE COME TO CALL NOT THE RIGHTEOUS BUT SINNERS.”

HERE’S WHERE I’D LIKE TO DEBUNK WHAT WE’VE ALWAYS SAID, OR READ, OR HEARD, OR HEARD PREACHED ABOUT THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, OR AT LEAST THE EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.

 

HAD JESUS WALKED UP ON THIS IMAGINARY PLOT OF LAND, WHERE THE SEED HAD BEEN SOWN, WHERE THE WORD OF GOD HAD BEEN SPREAD, JUST EXACTLY WHERE DO YOU THINK JESUS WOULD HAVE HEADED?

 

TO THE GOOD SOIL PRODUCING A HUNDREDFOLD?  ARE THESE TO WHOM JESUS WOULD HAVE GONE?

 

NOOOOOOOOO!

 

JESUS WOULD HAVE HEADED STRAIGHT TOWARD THE PEOPLE, AND TO THEIR LIVES, WHERE THE SEED HAD BEEN SOWN; BUT WHERE IT HAD BEEN TORN AWAY BY EVIL;

 

THE EVIL DONE TO THEM BY OTHERS, OR THE SELF-INFLICTED EVIL OF THEIR OWN LIVES.

 

JESUS WOULD HAVE GONE IMMEDIATELY TO THOSE IN NEED OF COMFORT AND CARE; IN NEED OF MERCY AND FORGIVENESS; IN NEED OF HEALING AND WHOLENESS.

 

LIKE A PARAMEDIC ROLLING UP ON THE SCENE OF AN EMERGENCY, JESUS WOULD HAVE GONE STRAIGHT TO WHERE THE WOUNDED AND DYING LAY AND STARTED SPIRITUAL CPR ON THEM!

 

SAVING THEIR LIVES, AND THEIR SOULS!

 

IF JESUS HAPPENED UPON THIS IMAGINARY FIELD WHERE THE SEED HAD SPROUTED UP IN SOME, ONLY TO WITHER AWAY, JESUS WOULD HAVE SENT PARENTS AND TEACHERS AND PREACHERS AND FELLOW BELIEVERS AND OTHERS, ARMED WITH HOSES AND WATER BUCKETS TO WATER THE SEED AND SAVE OUR SOULS!

 

AND IF JESUS CAME UPON THOSE WHOSE LIVES WERE BEING CHOKED OUT BY OTHER THINGS – GOOD OR BAD – HE WOULD TEAR AWAY AT THE THORNS WITH HIS BARE HANDS IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE US.

 

THE POINT IS THIS: THE TRADITIONAL EXPLANATION OF THIS PARABLE, AND OUR UNDERSTANDING OF IT IS ALL WELL AND GOOD;

 

AND, OF COURSE, WORTH COMMENDING, AND WHAT WE HOPE FOR, FOR OURSELVES, FOR OUR CHURCH, FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD;

 

THAT GOD’S WORD WOULD PRODUCE IN US A HUNDREDFOLD HARVEST OF GOODNESS!

 

BUT IT IS NOT, I REPEAT, IT IS NOT WHERE JESUS WOULD HAVE BEEN, WHAT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN DOING, WHERE HE WOULD HAVE STAYED.

 

JESUS IS OUT LOOKING FOR THE LOST SHEEP; HE’S BUSY WORKING TO FIND THE LOST COIN;

 

THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, JESUS IS TURNING THE HEARTS OF PRODIGALS BACK TO GOD EVERY DAY!

 

JESUS FINDS WAYS TO PROVIDE WHATEVER IT IS THE SEED OF GOD’S WORD NEEDS TO SPRING UP FULLY, COMPLETELY, RICHLY, AND ABUNDANTLY IN THE SOIL, IN THE LIVES, OF THOSE WHO HEAR IT, RECEIVE IT, AND WHO, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, ARE TRYING TO LIVE IT!

 

LIFE, OUR LIVES, ARE BEAUTIFUL, COMPLICATED, JOYFUL, AND HARD.

 

WE SUCCEED AND STRUGGLE; OUR LIVES ARE BETTER AND WORSE, RICHER AND POORER, FULL OF PLENTY AND WANT, SICK AND HEALTHY.

 

GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.

 

THEY ARE HUMAN LIVES, LIVED OUT IN ALL THE STRENGTH AND FRAGILITY, ALL THE HOPE AND DESPAIR, ALL THE JOY AND SADNESS, THAT IS LIFE.

 

PERHAPS, THE WORST THING WE CAN DO, IS TO LABEL EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUR WAY AS GOOD OR BAD, AND TREAT IT AS SUCH;

 

LOOKING ONLY FOR SOLUTIONS, EXPLANATIONS, AND MISSING OUT ON THE POSSIBILITIES, POTENTIALITIES, AND LIVING OF OUR LIVES AS THEY COME.

 

WE ARE NEITHER TRAGIC, NOR GOD’S SPECIAL ANGELS.  WE ARE HUMAN.

 

GOOD OR BAD, HARD TO SAY.

 

YET, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, GOD KEEPS LOOKING AT US, AND SAYING OF US, “IT IS GOOD; IT IS VERY GOOD.”

 

ACCORDING TO GOD, WE ARE WORTH LOOKING FOR; HUNTING FOR; FIGHTING FOR; WORTH STRUGGLING FOR; WORTH DYING FOR; WORTH SAVING.

 

FOR GOD, THAT… IS A GOOD THING!  A VERY GOOD THING!

 

I’D LIKE TO THINK, WE’D THINK SO, TOO.

 

 

 

Comments are currently closed.