Why So Much Waste
In Matthew 13 is the well-known parable of Jesus called ‘the parable of the sower,’ the first of
seven parables teaching something about the Kingdom of God.
Often when reading this parable, I’ve asked myself the question, “Why does the sower spoil so much of his precious seeds on unfruitful places?” But as I did background study, I found out it is because the sower just doesn’t know which place will be fruitful and which won’t be. In those days, the farmers would first sow and then plow the field. When you realize this, it makes sense that the seed gets scattered even on the paths through the fields. Also, the soil in Galilee in many places is just 10 centimeters (or a few inches) of soil sitting on top of a rocky surface. And the weeds that are mentioned only come up after the sowing. So, the sower doesn’t intentionally waste the seed, he just doesn’t know where it will come up and where it won’t, so he sows everywhere.
This is the first lesson I got from this parable: sowing everywhere! Often times what happens is that we have preconceived ideas about who will respond to the gospel and who won’t. So we only share with some people. But here this parable points to a kingdom dynamic: sometimes the people whom we least expect, will bear fruit abundantly. We just don’t know who will respond and who won’t; therefore, sow everywhere!
Second, why did Jesus choose this parable to teach his disciples something about the Kingdom? I think He wanted them to know that in the preaching of the gospel there are different kinds of
responses. Yes, many of the seeds sown will not bear fruit, but that is just normal.
The soil-bearing fruit is especially encouraging. A normal yield for a farmer in Galilee in the time of
Jesus was 10-fold. So for every seed sown, he would get 10 seeds back at harvest time. But here we read about a 30-fold, 60-fold, and 100-fold yield.
That brings me to a third lesson: the fruitful soil makes up for all the effort that has gone into the unfruitful soil. Jesus was teaching his disciples then, and us now, important lessons about Kingdom dynamics: Yes, the message of the Kingdom will be rejected by many. There will be unfruitful soil. But don’t be discouraged by all this. It is normal, keep sowing, and sow abundantly! There will be good soil and people who bear much fruit. These people who you will find, will bear fruit because of their obedience to the Lord. Yes, sowing is hard, but it is worth the effort!