I spent the first 19 years of my life living in a rural farming community in Northern California. Although my parents were not farmers the entire community revolved around farming. Weather reports often referred to whether this year would be a good or bad year for crops depending on whether Spring came early or late, rainfall, freezing temperatures, etc. Later I would work for a walnut shelling plant for a few months as a temp. I found out when you are a farmer a good chunk of the battle is the weather and no amount of money can make the rain fall or the temperature rise. Some of you not currently living in Northern California might be oblivious to the fact that during a drought it’s hard to even get the water to irrigate.
Watching the news last night I saw that the governor has declared California in a state of emergency for the driest year in recorded state history. His office is recommending residents to cut back on water usage by 20%. An interview with some of his staff showed billboards featuring a dirty, dusty windshield on which someone had written with their finger “Don’t Wash Me.” The staff explained, “This is the official California summer of 2014 car.” It’s a very unfortunate, yet much more fortunate truth that we do not get to control all the elements that make our crops bear fruit.
In the first half of Mark chapter 4 Jesus teaches a crowd from a boat out in a lake. He teaches there because the crowd gets so big this is the only way he can speak to them. Standing out on the water in a boat Jesus tells the parable of the sower. (A parable is a story that tells a special lesson or truth.) He describes a farmer who scatters seeds. There must have not been a shortage of seeds because this farmer was a little careless. Seeds fell in each of these places: on a path, in rocky places, among thorns, and lastly on good soil. If you have ever planted a crop you know that seeds that go anywhere but good soil are usually hard to grow unless they are weeds. Jesus proceeds to tell the crowd that the seeds on the path get eaten by birds. The seeds in the rocky places with shallow soil spring up quickly but wither when the sun comes out. The thorns choke out what grows among them, but the good soil brings fruit. In fact, the seeds on the good soil multiply 30, 60, even 100 times.
While you might be thinking that Jesus is just giving sound farming advice, he is also giving us discipleship advice. Don’t worry if you don’t understand, the disciples didn’t either. Unfortunately after Jesus’ message he didn’t get to go watch football like some men do after church, he had to explain this somewhat cryptic message he gave. He says that each seed represents a person. The seed which falls on the path is like a person who hears the Word, but Satan quickly puts doubts in their mind, doubts that they come to believe more so than the Word. The seed in the rocky places is the person who hears and accepts the word but whose troubles make the Word to fall away. The choked out seed among thorns is like the person whose worries and desires for this world (money, fame, material objects) choke out the Word. Lastly, the seed on good soil is like those who hear and accept the Word and produce a crop 30, 60, even 100 times.
We can assume the crop Jesus is referring to is disciples. In the last verses of Matthew 28 Jesus gives us the great commission. In short, he says to go and make disciples, make Christ followers. If we can take one thing away from this parable it is to make disciples. The seed in the nourishing soil is the one that is fruitful. Ask God how you can insure you are the seed on good soil. I don’t want you to be the Official California Summer of 2014 Dusty Christian with a drought in your discipler. In Matthew 28 Jesus says “All authority in Heaven and on Earth is given to me…” You have received his inheritance. Do not squander it on keeping the Word a secret. Be bold!
Let us pray:
Lord, I pray that you make me your vessel. May your Word be my nourishment, that whatever comes out of me is from you and the fruit it produces is for you. Even though I feel like a tiny, insignificant seed at times you give me the potential to be fruitful and multiply. I do not want to experience a spiritual drought. Thank you for being my spiritual sun and water, and soil that I may multiply for your glory. Amen.