Mark 4:1-9 Sower, Soil, and Seeds

Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow.

Sometimes, in the course of following a lectionary, odd juxtapositions of season and text come about. For those following the Narrative Lectionary, this Sunday is one of those odd juxtapositions. Here in Minnesota, we’re bracing for the coldest weekend of the winter. Snow blankets the ground, and the prediction has the mercury falling down near negative twenty. And yet, in the selections from Mark’s gospel, Jesus tells us a parable about growing seeds.

The parable of the sowers is a parable for preachers, not for hearers.  Too often, the preacher will stand up and shout at their hearers, “Don’t you want to produce a good crop? Be good soil!” But to shout those words is to twist the audience of the parable. This parable doesn’t endeavor to inspire its hearers to run out and produce good fruit. Rather, Jesus intends this parable to give direction to those who are called to preach the word. To his preachers, Jesus says, “Go out and preach the word, in all places. Sometimes it will take root, sometimes it will be choked out, but God (not the preacher) will be responsible for that growth.” The challenge of this parable is to abandon the need to find the best soil and the need to try to change the seed to fit the soil type. The word of God is to be cast out with reckless abandon, and we must trust that God will give the growth.

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