Preparing for your harvest
July 12, 2020
Matthew 13:1-9 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Here is a picture which anyone in Palestine would understand. Here we actually see Jesus using the here and now to get to the there and then. There is a point which the Revised Standard Version obscures. The Revised Standard Version has: ‘A sower went out to sow.’ The Greek is not a sower, but: ‘The sower went out to sow.’
What in all likelihood happened was that, as Jesus was using the boat by the lakeside as a pulpit, in one of the fields near the shore a sower was actually sowing, and Jesus took the sower, whom they could all see, as a text, and began: ‘Look at the sower there sowing his seed in that field!’ Jesus began from something which at the moment they could actually see to open their minds to truth which as yet they had never seen.
In Palestine, there were two ways of sowing seed. It could be sown by the sower scattering it broadcast as he walked up and down the field. Of course, if the wind was blowing, some of the seed would be caught by the wind and blown into all kinds of places, and sometimes out of the field altogether. The second way was a lazy way, but was not uncommonly used. It was to put a sack of seed on the back of a donkey, to tear or cut a hole in the corner of the sack, and then to walk the animal up and down the field while the seed ran out. In such a case, some of the seed might well dribble out while the animal was crossing the pathway and before it reached the field at all.
In Palestine, the fields were in long narrow strips; and the ground between the strips was always a right of way. It was used as a common path; and therefore it was beaten as hard as a pavement by the feet of countless passers-by. That is what Jesus means by the wayside. If seed fell there—and some was bound to fall there in whatever way it was sown—there was no more chance of its penetrating into the earth than if it had fallen on the road.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 67–68.
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Notes from Point 1
Notes from Point 2
Notes from Point 3
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