The Sower, The Seeds, and The Message (Part 1)
The theme of our 2023 Retreat was Seeds Alongside The Road. It comes from Jesus’ parable of the seeds. 1 Like me, you may have read or heard it many times. Seeds are scattered alongside a road, in rocky places, among thorns, in good soil. And all but those in the good soil die.
I’ve learned a lot from this passage and listening as Jesus explains its meaning. But recently I discovered the parable goes deeper than a simple warning of how we should act. I had missed it before because I was reading the wrong words. And that turns out to be significant.
For example, most translations assume Jesus was talking about a farmer. Yet the word here refers to a sower. There’s a different word for farmer. And yet farmer makes sense, right? So Jesus must have had a reason for making the star of this parable a sower.
The Sower came and scattered the seed,
Jesus also emphasized that the sower sowed the seed, rather than planted them. Planting involves a lot of work. There’s choosing the right location, digging the right hole, adding the right fertilizer, then putting the seed in the hole, covering it up with soil, and giving it a good watering.
But sowing is simply scattering seed and letting it fall where it may. The difference is important. Imagine if I went to help Beverly in the garden, picked up her newly bought flowers, and sowed them. It would not be a pretty sight…and I might not have recovered in time to write this Note.
The sower came to sow, scattering the seed all about, regardless of where it might fall. Yet this was not simply about scattering seed. It was about looking to the future and finding growth. The purpose of the sower was to sow a crop.
And seed was found along the journey.
There’s something else here. Jesus said the first seed “fell along the path”. Different translations have similar wording. But a stricter interpretation is “alongside the road”, a phrase that can also mean alongside the journey, with journey referring to one’s life. 2
Jesus was always careful with the words He chose, and I’m sure He knew the double meaning of this phrase. As He spoke, He saw the crowd along the shore listening to His words, and knew that soon they would be traveling home along the road, and along their journey in life.
He also knew we would read His words one day. Could this be about our life’s journey, too? What does scattering seeds have to do with us? And who is this sower, anyway?
Next week…Part 2 of The Sower, The Seeds, and The Message.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) This parable can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I am using the passage in Mark. Read Mark 4:1-20. (2) In this sense, alongside the road is an idiom, an expression having a single or alternate meaning that cannot be understood simply from its words, such as “bite the bullet” which means to get something over with.
Pictures: Banner: Sower and Seed, Free Bible Images. (1) Seeds Alongside the Road, photo by Sabrina Marie, Getty Images, iStockphoto. (2) Scattered, photo by tomasworks, iStockphoto. (3) Jesus Teaching by the Sea of Galilee, created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.