A Parable - A Sower Went out to Sow
When I was converted at the age of 20, I was very zealous for the Lord. At this time, I was living at home with my Catholic mother and going to college. My life changed dramatically as I was discipled by a very charismatic and influential man. I believe God used him to separate me from many of the bad influences in my life. He constantly talked about the Bible and the gospel and my feet became solidly planted on the Word of God. I was very zealous for witnessing and studying the Bible.
A few years later, I went out from my mother’s house and into the real world of living, working, paying bills, etc. etc. John and I had become married and were making a life together, living in a small apartment and trying to save for the monumental goal of owning a small home someday. Suffice it to say, when you grow up with everything easily provided for … and then you and your husband find that material things are not to be taken for granted as you had once done, it is a shock. I did not handle this shock so well. I went through a brief period of depression as I became worried and anxious, especially at the prospect of having a family. I questioned God about different circumstances and became not a very good example of a faith-filled Christian. I can remember unsaved members of my family asking me, “Where’s your faith?” Don’t get me wrong, my husband provided, but I was more intimately familiar with the mechanisms of this than I had been when I was brought up the upper-middle class home that I had been. I became very distracted, fretful and care-filled.
This time of fret subsided VERY slowly. I can remember sitting in church services on at least two different occasions, over a number of years and hearing the Parable of the Sower being read. Both times, I leaned over to my husband, John, as the portion about the seed that was choked by the cares and concerns of this world, and said “That’s me.” I also had this same thought when reading it alone. No doubt – I was the plant that was unfruitful because of thorns that had choked me. Matthew 13:
Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.No plants there. There is no plant and no plant life – just a wasted seed.
5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.There were plants, but they became withered. The life situation is not conducive to a flourishing plant. I think of people who may hear and receive the gospel and then perhaps get caught up in a cult. I also think of someone who hears the gospel, believes and has saving faith and then has no one to disciple him – no Bible to read or no one to encourage and spur him on. He hadn’t had time for the root of his faith to develop and strengthen ... and then the heat is turned up. But wait - does this have to be the end of the story? With a little water, a little removal of some rocks, a little TLC, this plant could revive and become healthy. – I had some on my porch a couple of weeks ago. Did I need to plant new seed? Did this plant need to be reborn? No, it needed water!
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.There was plant life here, but it wasn’t fruitful. Note what He says later on down in the chapter:
22 And the one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.Does Jesus say the plant died? No. Is there any reason to believe that the thorny plants couldn’t be cut back by the farmer and that with a little TLC, this plant could become fruitful at a later time? It received the Word, and became a plant, but was an unfruitful plant. Would it have to become a seed again and be re-germinated? Think about that. Don’t you know any Christians who fit this description? Couldn’t it have been said of you ever?
8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.This is God’s ideal for the Christian life. The life is ready to produce. This is God’s best for us!
That is my simple understanding of this parable, but as I have mentioned already, it doesn’t seem that simple to others. I guess if your theology doesn't bear the concept of an unfruitful Christian, then you couldn't accept this view. I personally believe that the unfruitful Christian is a valid Biblical concept, revealed in many non-parabolic passages, so I have thought of this parable this way for as long as I can remember since being a believer. I don’t see why anyone would insist that this story is conveying a message that only the seeds yielding a crop had been given life – that just doesn’t seem to be the obvious meaning to me. But who am I?