“… immediately receives it with joy”
Can we become too familiar with something? Can we know about some issue, some fact, have some experience – and then, over time be that long or short, the wonder of our perception of it fades right away? The parables of Jesus can be like that – we understood his teaching long ago, we received it into our thinking with joy.
Jesus’ parable of the sower we read this morning is the most familiar of all. We recall hearing a talk on it long ago that stuck in our minds. The seed is the word – surely that means ‘The Bible’ and we receive it with joy in a world of darkness that today is more godless than ever.
What are the birds which snatch away the seeds? The birds are beautiful little creatures and the talk we heard likened them to things like music! Things that are good attract us, but at the same time they can also distract us – if they totally dominate our attention so that God’s seed never takes root. We keep the seed, we talk of its value, but it is comparable to the servant “who kept [what he was given] and laid it away in a handkerchief” (Luke 19:20).
The servant knew it to be of value! Can we have the same attitude to the Bible, as we read it – or hear it read – yet never make use of what we read! We acknowledge it is a valuable seed so we know it is good to have a copy in our house. There are those, said Jesus, who “immediately receives it with joy” (Matthew 13:20) in seeing its value, yet they never allow it to take proper root in their minds. Jesus put it a strange way, he said such a person “has no root in himself” (verse 21), he saw no need for roots to anchor his thinking.
For all too many today though, the greatest category of tragedy is “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches [which] choke the word” (verse 22). We know, if we think deeply, there is no value in our reading of God’s word if, in the end, it fails to lead to us to being fruitful, and more so these days as the time gets closer to when, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin …” (verse 41).
Some may think to themselves, well that does not apply to me not accepting the reality that the seed of the word was expected to grow and produce fruit for “the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit …” (verse 23). Jesus put it another way in John 3:21, “… whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God”. Check your fruit today. Is your fruit ripening? Are there others you can encourage for “the seed” was sown in “God’s field”?