There is something missing from the passages over the next couple of weeks. You might be surprised at my saying so but it is true. There is a growing opposition to Jesus and everything he is saying and doing. For reasons I don’t quite understand the lectionary seems to leave these important bits of information out. if we ignore such things then we are impoverished because we are hurt and discouraged when we discover that there are people around us who react the same way. There are people who will choose not to hear. There are people who will not believe – that is participate in the life of God. Most everyone acknowledges that there is a God. Whether they will came and participate in God is another question and perhaps we’ll deal with that another time.
Nonetheless there are people who won’t believe. People who have been deafened by the world and its incessant din of what we need and what we want and what we must have. There are people who have blinded themselves so that they cannot respond to what they see and know about the message of the kingdom because they cannot see it nor hear it. And let’s keep in mind that many of these people are the “religious” people, both of Jesus’ day and of our own.
Jesus uses everything around his to help these people to help them to hear God calling out to them. He starts out on the hillside and when the crowd gets too large he climbs into a boat and uses the water to help magnify his voice so that more can hear him.
Why is Jesus encountering opposition from others? Is it because he is getting more and more popular? Partly. The jealous of other teachers is one of the motivators that gets others to get Jesus arrested. But is it not possible that Jesus has taken some of mystery and more of the work out being a person of God than the other teachers would like? Jesus’ teaching is both deep and earthy, rooted in the things that everybody knows and can relate to. He helps those closest to him to interpret what he has said and then to live out what they have learned. Isn’t that what a teacher should do? He also helps those who will teach with him to understand that people will react out where their lives are at the moment. The religious leaders can’t dance and they won’t cry. The crowds are seeking their own moment with Jesus to get their own miracle so that their lives in the moment will be different. Some want to come and take and make him the new king by force. And then there are those people, who like the rich young ruler who have heard the message, who understand it but are not willing to give up their agendas and their own self concerns.
This leaves us with those who are following Jesus, where are they in all of this? Jesus asks them if they understand what he is teaching them and they give at least a tacit “yes”. Before long it is going to become clear that they don’t “get it”. And because of that we are going to see something of the nature of Jesus and therefore of God that we don’t often here about. Jesus is going to keep going with them. Notice that Jesus does not give up and walk away because they can’t appreciate what is really happening. He stays with them and continues to teach them and to be with them and to lead them. He doesn’t get up and walk away.
It is the character of the Sower that we see in Jesus. He scatters the seed heedlessly and expects there to be a bumper crop. He has chosen ground (the disciples) that seemingly will not bear much of a crop. He hangs out with all forms and manner of social outcasts, is accused of being a glutton and a drunk because he eats and drinks with everyone else.
Often when we hear this teaching (Parable of the Sower) we hear the need for us to become good soil. In fact, this is not the case. We need to respond to the message. We are called to growth not to pick our own rocks, not to pull our own weeds or to water ourselves. We are called to allow the growth of the message within ourselves. We need to respond to the grace and the care that the Sower shows to the seed and to offer to the Sower whatever it is that we can yield without allowing these other things to choke out what it is that we have to offer the kingdom and its mission. Our response to the message is not to be better people but to answer the message with growth – growth in the knowledge of Scripture, growth in the gifts of the Spirit and deepening and growing love for the Saviour. Let this grow in us this week.