Jesus sat in the boat and looked at the large crowd gathered along the shore. His heart was elated and broken at the same time. The people assembled here were evidence of the Father’s powerful work and the coming of the kingdom Jesus proclaimed. They had seen Jesus’ mighty deeds and heard him teach about the coming kingdom. Now they were moved to follow Jesus – well, at least as far as the edge of town.
Still, Jesus knew that some would really not understand. Some would fall away when persecution raised its ugly head. Still others would be drawn away by the lure of the world’s supposed treasures.
Some of Jesus’ opponents may have even asked Jesus, “Tell us about this kingdom you preach about. If it is so great, why isn’t everyone getting on board? Some of your own disciples are abandoning you!”
Thankfully, Jesus also knew that many of those who followed him would also persevere in faith to inherit the kingdom. It was to this end that Jesus came. Sometimes, Jesus’ message bore fruit in the most unlikely places.
So Jesus told a parable about a farmer who sowed his seeds, knowing that not every seed would produce fruit for the coming harvest. Some seed would be eaten by birds. Some would fall on rocky ground. Some would fall where it would be choked out by weeds. But some would produce a harvest that would bring joy to the farmer’s heart.
Now God isn’t exactly like a farmer sowing seeds. You can only take the analogy so far.
Farmers aren’t invested emotionally in every seed that doesn’t bear fruit. If farmers get a good return on their time, money and effort, that’s certainly enough. But God is not growing soybeans and people aren’t dirt. Every person for whom Jesus died is precious to him, including those who don’t understand him, those who deny him and those who leave him for apparently greener pastures. Every person matters, including those who ultimately fail to enter the kingdom.
To the people on the shore, Jesus’ message was a challenge. What will you do with this Jesus whom you have followed to the shoreline? Will you let his word take root in you and grow? Unlike soil, human beings are not passive recipients of the sower’s seed.
Surely the kingdom will come whether you or I or the individuals gathered on the shore to hear Jesus speak are there to be a part of it. Jesus’ parable is both a word of warning and encouragement. The kingdom is coming, and you are a part of it. Don’t let the evil one’s threats or the world’s empty promises draw you away.
Related: The Parable of the Sower