Matthew 13:1-9

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

I will warn you ahead of time: it’s really, really hard to read this parable apart from it’s explanation. As we’ll have occasion to notice, the explanation that Matthew reports Jesus as sharing comes a few verses later, interrupted by a brief – and somewhat vexing! – discourse on the nature and purpose of parables. But most of us are familiar enough with the explanation – which draws our attention to different kinds of soil – that we can barely read the parable itself without jumping to this interpretation. (If this parable is new to you, you’re in luck!)

But just for a moment, notice not only the different kinds of soil, but also this reckless sower. Why do I call him reckless, you wonder? Because I want to know what kind of farmer throws seed with such abandon, which so little concern for where the seed lands. Indeed, three-quarters of the seed is wasted. And so I’ll ask you again to note the recklessness, even wastefulness of this sower.

Why does this shift of focus matter? Because as we give our attention to the crazy abandon of this ridiculously wasteful farmer, we get a hint about the character of the kingdom Jesus preaches. It is a place where God’s love and God’s word are scattered with equal abandon, with no regard for how any of it will be received. It’s as if God just can’t help but share love and grace and mercy and will do so recklessly, even wastefully, because God alone knows that grace is never exhausted and love never wasted.

Can you imagine living like that? In any way, shape, or form?

Actually, I bet you already do, in the love and care you give a child, a grandchild, a sibling, a lover, a parent, a friend. But even though we have moments where we give ourselves selflessly, even recklessly, most of the time it’s hard to imagine living with such abandon, giving with so little thought of the return. We’ve been taught to be more careful, to avoid undue risk, to protect ourselves from harm. Yet love does not know the way of safety and grace can’t keep itself vulnerable from risk.

And so we try, but often fail, to give of ourselves, sometimes even to those we love the most, with such abandon and so little regard for the outcome. All the while, this parable reminds us, God continues to sow grace and mercy and love, throwing it even on us.

Prayer: Dear God, immerse us in your love that we grow to be a little more reckless with our own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Post image: Vincent Van Gogh, “The Sower” (1888).