With John Boylan from All Saints Church, Wokingham
In the Parable of the Sower the seed sown on good soil flourishes whereas the seed which lands on the poor soil, thorny ground or rocky ground fails to grow, is choked by the weeds or is eaten by the birds.
On the face of it there isn’t much to say, it’s all pretty clear – good soil, good seed, good results. Poor soil, good seed, poor results. It’s about the soil.
Jesus patiently explains to the disciples that in the parable the soil represents us, and the seed is the word of God.
But what type of soil are we and since soil cannot change itself, is there any hope for those of us who fall into the poor soil category?
If we are honest there are probably instances when we qualify as all of the kinds of soil mentioned. There will be times when we will step up to care for and help others.
But equally there will be times when like the disciples we profess to understand but fall hopelessly short.
We will experience times when the issues in our own lives will overtake us and “choke the word”. Coronavirus has certainly emphasised these issues, bringing out the best in a lot of people but also the worst in others.
Some have devoted themselves to helping those in greater need, while others have focused only on themselves.
But it’s not quite time to give up and go home. In the parable the sower knows what happens but still continues to sow on the poor soil.
We know that despite their shortcomings, even to the point of desertion, Jesus never gave up on his disciples and continued to teach, encourage and invest his mission on them.
Matthew’s Gospel may not fill us with too much hope in the disciple’s competence or understanding but Jesus makes the promise “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)
If Jesus is prepared to invest in these unpromising individuals, then there is surely hope for all of us. Hope to keep going, hope to keep on trying even if we fail. Jesus does not give up on us … and neither should we.
John Boylan is an authorised lay preacher at All Saints Church, Wokingham, writing on behalf of Churches Together in Wokingham