It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Keep Sowing that Seed, a Reflection on Matthew 13:18-23

The lectionary suggests omitting verses 10 through 17. Don't. You might even want to read chapter 12, which is also left out of the lectionary.

In verses 1-9, Jesus is addressing the crowd. It's the same day that he has rejected his mother and brothers, replacing them with the disciples. The crowd is so big that Jesus had to get preach from a boat. He tells them a parable, then says to them, "Let anyone with ears listen!"

In the skipped verses, the disciples ask why he is speaking to the crowds in parables. He responds by saying not everybody is supposed to understand everything. Is his response an echo to Isaiah 6:9-10, where right after Isaiah has responded to God's call to preach to the people by saying "Here am I; send me," God tells him to say to the people that they are not able to understand?

I think Matthew wants me to think that Jesus wants this crowd to be good soil but realizes that some are a stony, some at risk to hungry birds, and some not deep enough to hold water. Is Jesus acting out for the disciples what they will continue to find--not everybody gets it?

Note that Jesus has to explain the parable to the disciples later. "Three-fourths of your audience will not get the message, but the fourth that does, will really get it."

But, even if we can't expect everybody to respond to the message, we are not supposed to restrict that message to what looks like the best soil to us. Keep scattering that seed. As Thomas Long says in his commentary on Matthew:
The church is called to "waste itself," to throw grace around like there is no tomorrow, precisely because there is a tomorrow, and it belongs to God.

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