Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Matthew 13:18-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.[a] 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Many of Jesus’ teachings were in parables, stories that made a point and usually startled his first hearers into a new way of seeing things. Today’s reading actually follows Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower and the Seeds.” A better title for that parable would be, “The Parable of the Soils” because the focus is not really on the sower or the seeds, it is the soil. The parable leads us to focus on the soil and how the different types of soil produce different results.
The sower in the parable is sowing in a method called broadcasting, where he scatters the seed on land that has been broken up, not plowed in rows. This sower “scatters” seed, flinging it with abandon. He flings it on good soil and bad soil and in wheat fields and weed fields. The sower scoops seed from a sack flinging it hither and yon as he walks to and fro. This is the methodology described in the parable.
These scattered seeds fall on different kinds of soil. Some of the seeds fall on the path made impenetrably hard from the constant pounding of feet on the path. Some of the seeds fall on shallow soil barely covering a rocky base. Some of the seeds fall on thorny ground. And some of the seeds fall on good, healthy, receptive soil.
This is a parable about our level of receptivity to the realm of God and the good news of God’s grace. And, more than that, it is a parable about how these “seeds” can take root and grow in our lives in a fruitful way.
A farmer has to pay close attention to the quality of the soil that will receive the seeds when they are sown in the field. So, today, the farmer will have the soil analyzed by a lab. Soil analysis is important because it tells the farmer what the soil needs to make it productive. Soil analysis is looking for various nutrients in the soil, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
In today’s reading, Jesus describes the different soils.
What this story calls for is one of the most important tasks of your spiritual life: ongoing soil analysis.
So, here are some soil analysis questions to consider: What kind of soil have I prepared? What am I lacking? What changes do I need to make in order to be more receptive to God’s call and grace in my own life? What are “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth” that can choke out the message of the Good News from growing and bearing fruit?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster