The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1-9 1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 “He who has ears, let him hear.”

Four men lived in a box that was placed temporarily upon a large table in the kingdom of God. The four men stood continuously back to back and talked with each other. This is what they liked to say. Man #1: “I see the white wall yonder has much improved since we last talked, wouldn’t you say?” Man #2: “Oh yes, I certainly agree that its whiteness is much more splendid from what we saw yesterday.” Man #3: “I see that the floor has retained its solidity as well.” Man #4: Yes indeed, it may even be a bit firmer today!” And all four men in unison: “It is well that we are here and all is as it should be.” Each day this conversation played itself out, predictably, and without much variation. The men stood shoulder to shoulder and back to back each day, understanding their world completely and questioning nothing. That is, until a day came when one of the men, quite by accident, leaned his head back and glanced up. ‘Up’ was a direction that they had never considered and the man soon discovered why. Because, when he looked ‘Up’ he saw space without end and color that was completely foreign and incomprehensible to him. He saw the blueness of sky and the endless depth of a clear spring day. He quickly looked back down in fear and confusion and promptly wiped the notion of ‘Up’ from his mind. So comfortable with what he saw before and below his eyes, he that he never again desired to look anyplace else, and of course he never did. And so went Man #1. Man #2, however, felt the first man’s movement and was startled enough by it to look around and see what had happened. This in itself was a new thing for the men, caring enough about the other to actually try to look at them and see what could be the matter, and was the first good to come from the accidental upward glance of the first man. When Man #2 did look around he too caught sight of the sky beyond the tops of the four white walls they so contentedly stared at each day. He too was startled by the depth and incomprehensibility of the absence of substance that he looked into. This man however reacted against the tremble he felt in his companion and remarked aloud, “It is a new thing, look!” He expected his brothers to respond as he did, with happiness at the discovery of a new thing, but they all did not respond in that way. Man #3 looked and saw and was deeply troubled. He did not fear the blueness of ‘sky’ even though it was new and inconceivable; he worried instead about what it would mean to the order of their lives if they even attempted to understand it. So even though the thing had always been part of their world, if outside of their consciousness, the man decided very quickly that he would not risk losing sight of the comfort of the wall before him in order to gaze into the endlessness of space. He turned to Man #2 and commanded him to look away and cease his reckless regard for ‘Up.’ And Man #2, being afraid of losing the companionship of his box-mates, turned his head back to front and down and tried to re-content himself with the old-ness of white. So went man #2 and #3. It was Man #4 who did what the others would not. And it is in no small part that his choice was only made possible by the failure of the other three. If not for Man #1’s tremble, Man #2 would never have seen and rejoiced, Man #3 would not have spoken out so boldly against it, and Man #4 might never have even become aware of it. But aware he became, and in Man #4 was neither fear nor worry, but only curiosity; and curiosity was enough. ‘Up’ he looked and he saw what was so plainly there that he laughed out loud. “We are in a box, just as we have always known!” he said to himself. “And we’ve never even considered anything that was not box, so content we are with our understanding and mastery of our box.” The man not only looked ‘Up’ but actually stepped back from his companions and looked at it from every position that the box would allow. From one corner he saw the tops of what were great trees of green and from the opposite corner he caught a glimpse

of the snow caps of mountains. None of this made any sense to the man. None of the colors were identifiable, none of the shapes could he understand. But the more he looked the more he seemed to see, and with his sight came the glimmer of wisdom. And with wisdom came the word, ‘Out.’ “Out,” he said. “We must get out into that place.” He waved his arm wildly and gestured both ‘Up’ and ‘Out’ to his brothers. But the other three men steadfastly refused to even acknowledge they understood his intent. Man #3 went so far as to rebuke the man for upsetting the security of the box. The three blind men formed a new circle in the center of the box, shoulder to shoulder and back to back, but with now only three and not four. Man #4 would not be deterred. He continued his study of what he could now clearly see. From every possible viewpoint he considered up-ness and out-ness and he became convinced that they were not only real, but more real than what was in the box. And if more real, he reasoned, then possibly there was a way to get out there; possibly a Someone, like himself, who would help him. “Can anyone hear me?” he called out. The other men grumbled at his foolishness, as they deemed it. To call to one who could not be seen and therefore must not exist was even more foolish than contemplating the ‘outside’ of the box! But Man #4 was not so easily put off and he continued to call out. “Anyone?” he called. “Please, if you can hear me, won’t you come and help? I cannot get out by myself.” His answer came to him one night, but not in the manner he had expected. He woke one morning and found a letter in his lap addressed to him and him alone. Inside he found what he had so long waited for, confirmation that what he had hoped to be true was true. Jumping to his feet he roused his three blind brothers and showed them his letter. “It tells us all that what I have been imagining is true! There is an outside to this place, and it is far better than I had thought!” But of course, the other men would not listen and one of them, Man #3 even tore the letter from the hands of Man #4 and destroyed it. Man #4 was sad for the loss of his letter and for the irreparable rift that now separated him from his brothers but the joy of his hope burned ever the more brightly in his chest. For now he knew, really knew, that the day would come when he would be able to go outside and stay forever. His wait was long, but not entirely unfruitful. He continued his studies of the inside and found several interesting evidences for what he hoped existed outside. He also did what he could to help the blind men even through their constant ridicule. And he remained resolute, he was no longer content with the world as he had once known it, he was sure he would be leaving it for another and a better. The day came when the three men in the center of the box found themselves alone and without the irritation of the constant excitement of Man #4. They woke to find that he was gone, vanished from the box. They did not know how to explain his disappearance and inside each of them the seed was planted that maybe, just maybe, the man had indeed gotten ‘Out’ and ‘Up’ and was in a better place. But to this day they have not done much to grow that seed. And they, the three blind men in a box, continue on much as they have always done. And Man #4? He is living the high life, both figuratively and literally. He woke to find himself outside the box that wonderful morning and standing in the freshness of a great plain of tall grass gently blowing in the breeze. The sun was rising enormous on the horizon and the mountains towered in the distance, both majestic and serene. The table and the box stood beside him and the man peered into it curiously. Inside his former brothers were just waking up. He could just barely make out their small voices as they began their morning routine, “I see the white wall yonder has much improved since… Man #4 chuckled and shook his head, “One day they will see.” He turned his face to the sun and spread wide his arms to catch the warmth. He heard voices from across the plain beckoning him to join them and he ran toward them, skipping and jumping like a little boy.

Matthew 13:10-23 10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; 15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 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 has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”1


1 New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995

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