I have read this parable and heard many people preach on the same many times. I believe many of you too have. In many instances preachers look at the parable from the same angle – the types of soils. However, looking at the parable again, a number of issues come to mind. The disciples did not get the meaning of the parable. And yet these were people that had been with Jesus for some time. One would expect that they would understand the meaning of the parable easily, since this was not the first time Jesus was teaching in a parable. The fact that the disciples did not understand the meaning of the parable is a clear indication that the multitude did not understand either. Jesus confirmed that He knew the multitude would not understand the parable (verse11).
Like I have said earlier, we usually rush to the meaning of the different types of places where the seed fell. And for sure all of us would like to be like the “good ground” so that we can yield a hundredfold crop. The question I would like us to dwell on is, “Have we ever considered how painful it must have been for the seed that fell in the first two places”?
Consider the seed that fell by the way side; and the birds came and devoured them. This seed should have grown and yielded crop. For this seed to be part of the seed the farmer was carrying, it must have been good seed. There is no way the farmer could have taken this seed to plant, without carefully selecting it from the other ears that were good for pounding or cooking for a meal. Those of you who are farmers understand this better. Choosing seed for planting is a serious business.
We are not given any reason why the seed fell on the way side. Was it carelessness on the part of the farmer (i.e. was he carrying the seed in a bag that had holes or was he carrying too much?) One is compelled to blame the farmer. While he suffered loss, the seed suffered more. Being devoured by birds!
Coming to the seed that fell on stony places, it is interesting to note that the seed did not take long to grow, because of lack of depth of earth. While the lack of depth of the soil was kind of an advantage (the seed germinated quickly) it eventually became a disadvantage. Imagine the roots of the plants trying to go deep to get water and food but to no avail, because of the rock underneath. Again, it was not by choice that the seed fell on this place. Was there a way the farmer could have realised that this was not a good place for his well-chosen seed?
Finally, the seed that fell on the right soil. What could have the seed done to fall on the right soil? Unless otherwise, this seed did literally nothing to deserve this favour. It is also interesting to note that despite the seed falling on good soil it produced differently: some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty. Again the reasons for the differences in production are not given. This could be one of the reasons the disciples did not understand the parable. There was need for a lot of wisdom.
To think about: Are there issues surrounding HIV and AIDS that you do not understand (fully)? If so, how have you treated them? Have you brushed them off or handled them the way you thought was right, or sought wisdom from others?
Written by Lloyd Khanyanga: Executive Director-Family Life And AIDS Education Ministry (Malawi). CABSA Trained Facilitator and Country Representative (Malawi)