A Bumper Crop

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.  Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.  And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!”

 

“A sower went out to sow.”  The people who first heard this story knew all about sowing seeds.  They saw it happen, they did it, year after year.  They knew that seed was sown by “broadcasting”.  The farmer would walk along and toss seed out in every direction.  Well, you can imagine that tossing out all those seeds, it was nearly impossible to tell what it was landing on.

Jesus mentions four different kinds of soil the seed might fall on.  It might fall where the farmer walked, on the path, and just lie there until the birds came and ate it.  Or it might fall on rocky ground, where the soil was shallow, and anything that sprouted there would wither and die.  Some might fall among the weeds, and the weeds would grow up with the seed and crowd it out.  Or, hopefully, it might just fall on good soil and yield a crop … a bumper crop!

That was the part that surprised the people who heard the story: the yield, the harvest.  Think about it.  We are talking about primitive agriculture.  You just throw out some seed, and then plow the ground with a wooden stick.  That’s a pretty inefficient way of farming.  Seven or eight-fold would represent a really good harvest.  Ten-fold would be amazing.

Yet here Jesus is talking about thirty-fold, sixty-fold, even a hundred-fold!  To promise this kind of return on investment (ROI) was more than optimistic — it was almost a whole new order of creation, a whole new vision of life!  To sow with this kind of vision is to see life from the perspective of the Kingdom of God.  With a vision like this you don’t really care about rocks or birds or weeds.  None of that stuff matters.  It gets swallowed up in the promise of God’s abundance.

And it’s this perspective, this promise of a vast harvest beyond our wildest imagination — this is what lies at the heart of this little story.  The point of the parable is that by the grace of God, the harvest will be vast beyond measure, beyond belief!  What God can do with us, with our efforts, our faith, our commitment, is far more than we can ever envision.

God provides the seed.  God sends the rain, and the sun, and the increase; and God brings forth the harvest.  Not because of anything in us — our efforts or our abilities — but through the power of the Word of God.  The seed that God gives is the Word of the Kingdom.  And that Word, that Promise, will not return empty, but it will accomplish that which God intends, and it will prosper in the thing for which it was sent.

 

We plow the fields and scatter

the good seed on the land,

but it is fed and watered

by God’s Almighty hand,

who sends the snow in winter,

the warmth to swell the grain,

the breezes and the sunshine

and soft refreshing rain. 

All good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above. 

We thank you, Lord, we thank you, Lord, for all your love.

 

We thank you, our Creator,

for all things bright and good,

the seedtime and the harvest,

our life, our health, our food. 

No gifts have we to offer

for all your love imparts, b

ut what you most would treasure —

our humble, thankful hearts. A

ll good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above. 

We thank you, Lord, we thank you, Lord, for all your love.

 

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