Jesus' Parable of the Sower (Mark chapter 4, verses 1-20) is one passage that has been heard within the Church throughout its history.
Most Christians have heard sermons on the parable in relation to how the Gospel will be received when it is delivered to unbelievers. It seems commonplace that we usually have sermons that mainly have very abstract or conceptual ideas that aren't solely focused on us.
Whilst these kinds of sermons are still helpful for the spiritual health and growth of Christians, a recent sermon expounding the Parable of the Sower focusing on God's will and his truth in our lives stood out to me the most.
The sower in the parable is God. On earth, this is also Christ and His Body, which is the Church.
While the delivery of the Gospel of Christ crucified is primarily borne by Christ, as it is only God who can pierce the hearts of people, it is also necessary to believe and to recognise that we as Christians need to be united to act as one sower to bring the hope and light of the Gospel to our world.
Ecumenical efforts like the Katoomba Conventions are great ways of bridging the gaps between denominations; equipping and empowering Christians to act as one in bringing the Gospel to society in their individual lives.
The four soils in the parable can be interpreted as both the reception of the Gospel and the spiritual health of our hearts and minds. I believe that Jesus' parables spoke to both insiders and outsiders of the faith as his teaching is both timeless and relevant to all. These four soils are relevant every time we are attempting to heed the word and voice of God.
The "seed" that falls in the wayside and is picked off by birds is a symbolic reference to the taking away of the Gospel of Christ by Satan. Birds in this parable are explained by Jesus to be a negative symbol and symbolic of the Devil. Teaching that falls to the wayside and ignored is a dangerous practice that can be detrimental to the health of a Christian's faith.
The posture of the heart is an important element to worship and to learning. Humility brings fruitfulness whilst pride prevents the work of the Spirit. The stony ground can symbolise the resistance of the human mind and heart in both believer and unbeliever. Jesus explains this to be a faith that cannot endure suffering.
This soil yields some growth for the seed, but is choked up by thorns that spring up around it. Jesus explains that this soil heeds the word of God, but growth and progress is stifled by worldly cares, riches, lusts, leading the seed of faith to stagnate and choke.
I would personally argue this is the most common soil type in our Christian communities and our society. Often, we are eager to obey God's word, or eager to learn, but when it comes to obedience and spiritual discipline in removing the spiritual thorns and weeds of our life, we often fail. Some examples include seeing pursuit of money trumping generosity, and personal pursuits that leave no time or room for God.
Jesus explains that this soil is the good ground which receives the word gladly, and yields fruit that multiplies.
This is the ideal soil that we should strive to cultivate in our lives. It allows the most harmonious and obedient way which we can have relationship with God and grow as Christians.
Moral of the story?
My pastor asked the congregation, "What soil are you?"
This is the same question I ask myself, "What soil am I?"
I struggled at first to answer because it was something that I didn't really examine on my own, but I realised that I was the thorny ground which received the word, but was choked by worldly pursuits and problems.
I realised if I was to truly be obedient and enjoy fruitful faith in my everyday life, I needed to relinquish my desire for ultimate control of those pursuits and problems. So often I find myself over-worrying about how situations will work out, and I miss out on contentment and miss out on being at peace.
My prayer is that we can all strive to trust God more in our everyday lives and in both big and small tasks that we undertake. After all, if he is God, he has already determined the outcomes for us.
Jack is studying Commerce and Arts at Macquarie University, he is part of a family of five, his hobbies include computer gaming, football, learning languages, and church history. He attends Gracepoint Presbyterian, and occasionally, St. Paul's Anglican in Burwood.
Jack Liang's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jack-liang.html