Jesus, with crowds pressing from every side, makes slow progress down to the sea. He gets into one of the boats (Peter & Andrew”s, or the Zebedee family’s) and pushes a little way out.
Suddenly there is space between Him and the people. More can see Him and hear Him now and he begins to teach. Perhaps the people even sit down along the shore that gradually slopes up into the rolling farm land behind.
Jesus catches His breath, communes with His Father for a few seconds, then gazes beyond the people to the farm land, where perhaps barley is growing 8-10 inches high.
And He tells them a parable about growing a good harvest, that it all depends upon the soil. Would they HEAR?
1/ A hard beaten path does not receive the good seed. The seeds lie there briefly until birds spot them and fly down to eat them.
2/ Areas of thin soil with a hillock of rock just beneath, take in the good seed, sprout it, but there’s nothing to support growth and the seedling dies.
3/ Soil with healthy weeds growing receive a bit of the good seed between the stalks, but this seed fights a losing battle for moisture, nutrients, and sunshine. It can’t grow strong enough to produce grain, and dies barren.
4/ But good, cultivated, deep rich soil gets seed too. It is nourished, warmed, protected from birds and weeds. It sends down roots, grows up healthy and produces a harvest.
~~~ You’ve heard this parable many times, and know what it means, but what of that crowd along the shore?
As Jesus finishes speaking and the disciples row the boat out into the water, the crowd makes their way home. They walk on paths and roads through the growing barley… and wonder at this perplexing story Jesus told.
As they walked did they see where seed had been sown along the well-beaten path? Did they step on a few missed by the birds? And were there some seeds that had struggled up but been scorched, now lay brown against the thin soil? Did these folk spot a few spindly blades between thick weeds, trying to compete with their aggressive neighbors?
Why had Jesus told this story of failure and loss?
Then perhaps as the walked farther, and lifted their eyes and saw good plants heading out with grain and a promise of harvest.
Maybe some began to understand. ALL the SEED had life in it. It was WHERE it landed that mattered.
Jesus had said those strange words, “He who has ears, let them hear.” Did this good seed represent the things Jesus was teaching….scattered among many, many “ears” in the crowd? They’d all heard them, right?
Or…. maybe not.
1/ Some said, “Oh, I didn’t understand a thing He said. And my mind is on the good dinner my wife is preparing. Now there’s something to think about.”
2/ Others said, “Oh, His words sound good, but I don’t go along with what He teaches. I’m sticking with what the Pharisees teach. They know the law. I trust them.”
3/ Still others said, “Well, what Jesus says kind of makes sense. And his miracles are spectacular, but when He says His followers must leave everything behind to follow Him…. well, I’ve got a family, and a business. I have kids to plan the future for. I’ve just no time to follow Him. Besides… it sounds scary to just leave everything and walk away.”
4/ But…. some of their “ears” (hearts, understanding) were open to “hear” His teaching and the meaning of His words, and receive it like the good soil.
And there would be an abundant harvest in their lives.