Back on June 22 of 2018 I had published the first of a series of articles on “Proclaiming Christ in a Deaf World,” and that first article was on the Sower from Matthew 13:3. As I have reflected on the theme of the Sower since then, it has occurred to me how many verses in the Bible relate to agricultural subjects and pictures. Many of these verses teach the disciples of Jesus how to communicate Christ to any culture. That is, there are embedded in these verses principles for how to present Christ to a culture like ours, that generally ignores Him. I wanted to cover some of those verses now with a few brief comments on each. I had started this list of verses a few days ago, but there are several more that I will add now.
(Again, these are in no particular order but appear as they occurred to me.)
Matthew 20 and the parable of the vineyard is a story in which the master of the vineyard calls laborers from the marketplace into his vineyard to work it. In just this manner, the Lord of glory has called you and me out of the vast, unsaved marketplace of the world and has sent us to labor in His vineyard, and He expects us to bring a return. We were standing idle in the marketplace and spending our lives in useless ventures (Titus 3:3), no matter how noble we thought those ventures were, and the Lord called us to be eternally useful for Him in His kingdom labor.
In Matthew 25, the Lord Jesus tells the parable of the talents, where the master of the field goes away on a long journey and then returns. The point of this parable is that we are to be faithful laborers in the Lord’s field, and we are to invest our time and our “talents” to bring a return for the Lord with whatever He has entrusted to us, whether big or small. The critical question thus becomes, “What does it look like in practical terms for me to be a ‘faithful’ sower?” To receive the commendation from the Master, I believe we need to sow intentionally and persistently and regularly. Then we will hear the Master say, “Well done.”
In Mark 4, our Lord tells another parable: “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the ground; and he goes to bed by night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows – how, he does not know (4:26-27).” The message of this parable is that, if we do our part, which is scattering the seed, then the Lord will do His part, which is causing the seed to grow. If we as sowers scatter the seed, the Lord can cause some of it to grow, but if there is no seed sown, then the Lord cannot cause the seed to grow. If there is no seed, then there is no harvest. The Lord knows the mysteries of seed growth, but He has entrusted the scattering of the seed to us. Will we be faithful to scatter the seed?
Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 3, when he writes, “I planted; Apollos watered, but it was God who was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth (3:6-7).” We are responsible to take the God-given gospel seed and plant it and water it, but we are not responsible to make it grow, because we are not able to make anything grow. We can plant and water, and therefore we are responsible for those activities, but growth requires divine power. But woe to us if we do not do the things the Lord has commanded us to do. We are commanded to scatter the seed and leave the growth to God. Are you scattering seed?
Ecclesiastes says much the same thing when Solomon writes about the life used by God using agricultural terms: “Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight (11:2).” Scatter a lot of seed in multiple fields, because you do not know which one will sprout. “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap (11:4).” Concentrate on your task of sowing and do not become distracted or procrastinated. Life is short and the time to sow and reap is brief. So, get after it! “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good (11:6).” Do not count on one strategy to succeed so that you ‘put all your eggs in one basket.’ If you assume your single strategy will certainly succeed and then nothing results of it instead, then the sum of your results is nothing. Rather, humbly expect that even your best plan may not succeed, so employ multiple channels and backup plans, so that you will have many potential avenues of success
In these passages, God is not giving us strategies to make money in the stock market or even advice about being a successful farmer. God is giving instruction and principles to His children about how to spread the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us take these ideas and put them to use in the greatest harvest of all.
SDG rmb 1/21/2019