In Matthew, chapter 13, Jesus taught about the Kingdom of Heaven using several parables. The first of these parables is about a farmer sowing seeds.
Farmers in Jesus' day did not plant seed in rows using tractors. Seed was scattered by hand, and what took root and grew was what produced the crop. We would consider this manner of farming very inefficient by 21st century standards, but it is what they did and what the people knew.
One thing is as certain today as it was in Jesus' time. To receive an abundant harvest, a farmer must sow an abundance of seed. Plant a little, receive a little harvest. Plant a lot, receive an abundant harvest.
We learned this at our house growing tomatoes in grow boxes on our back patio. Last year we planted six plants, and had an infestation of tomato worms. We got some tomatoes, but not an abundance. This year we planted nine plants and covered them with netting to prevent the tomato worms. We had all the tomatoes we could eat, and then some!
The parable of the sower and the soils lifts up several powerful truths for us. The condition of the soil determines the final harvest. And the condition of our hearts determines whether the seed of God's grace takes root in our lives and produces the fruit of His Kingdom.
Jesus teaches that some lives are like a hard-packed path, unreceptive to the seed of the message about God's Kingdom. Some lives are like a thin layer of soil over a base of stone, only allowing a shallow growth of the Kingdom. Some lives are like thorn-infested ground, where the message of the Kingdom begins to grow, but is choked out by the cares and concerns of the world. And some lives are like the good soil that receives the message of the Kingdom and produces fruit in abundance.
But there is another truth in this parable that makes my heart sing. The Sower is lavish with the seed. The Sower scatters the seed all over everywhere, hoping it will take root and grow and produce a harvest. The Sower even scatters the seed on hard or rocky or weedy soil. The transforming grace of Jesus Christ is like that. It is lavish. It is poured out in abundance. It is even offered to people with hard or shallow or thorn-infested hearts.
You see, Jesus told us His mission. It was to seek and to save what was lost! (Luke 19:10) Lost people matter to Jesus. Broken people matter to Jesus. Hard-hearted people matter to Jesus. Jesus is a Friend of sinners. His love is lavished upon all our lives. And where hearts receive Jesus and trust Him, His grace and forgiveness produce the fruit of transformed lives.
One great image of the Bible is that the Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is the current incarnation--the flesh-and-blood-expression--of the presence of Jesus in the world. Our love and our service are expressions of His love and His service. And the One who was lavish in pouring out His love for a lost world on the Cross is still lavish in pouring out His love today through His Church.
We are called to lavishly spread the message of the Kingdom of God to a broken, hurting world. We are called to love everyone, and tell everyone who will listen about our Savior. Jesus does not want the seed of His Church to remain in the barn of the church building. He wants His love and grace to be flung out into the world as we live our lives each day. And Jesus knows there are some who have receptive hearts who will hear and heed and produce a harvest.
Here is a holy prayer: "Jesus, love some sinners through me, today. Make my heart beat with your longing love. Sow seeds of truth and grace in places where you choose. I want to be part of the lavish sowing that produces an abundant harvest." Here's to sowing for an abundant harvest!