Get out of the way! The nice way to say it is “Excuse me” or “Pardon me”, but in this case, “Get out of the way!” is fitting. Seed is being scattered by the sower. You’re standing in the way of letting the seed fall where it might. That’s about right for sinful human beings because THE SEED IS THE WORD OF GOD and none of us can stand it.
The sower, the Father, sows the seed. He sows His Son, the eternal Word of God. The sower doesn’t care where the seed lands. He sows. The sown seed goes where it goes. Sometimes it lands on hardpan and is taken away. Sometimes it grows, but lacks moisture and dies. Sometimes it grows, but is choked by weeds and eventually dies. Sometimes it grows and bears fruit, even up to a hundredfold. Isn’t that something!
That’s where Jesus leaves us when He tells the parable. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! He doesn’t say anything about you as the soil. He doesn’t say anything about improving the soil. He tells the parable, ends it with an exhortation to hear, if you can hear it, and stops. The best public speaking is when the speaker leaves you wanting more when he or she ends. That’s where Jesus leaves us today: wanting more. Even His disciples want to know what He said and what it means. He tells them, but if you know how the disciples operate through the Gospels, you wonder whether they understood the explanation.
Not only do we not get out of the way when the seed is sown, we also don’t understand that there are soils that are not receptive to the seed sown. The trouble happens when we start to think that the sower is to blame. If only he could have used better seed or even a different seed. Why would he not want to sow His Son, the promised Seed of the woman who comes to stomp the head of the serpent?
Maybe the sower sowed the seed in the wrong field? What if he would have been more discriminating in choosing where to sow? The seed of the Word is given to all. The sower can’t discriminate. He created all things good. He desires to let his creation receive His message of forgiveness and salvation. Our heavenly Father’s message of redemption in Christ is a catholic message, meaning “according to the whole”. That’s the proper definition of catholic. The word doesn’t merely describe a church fellowship. It describes the total gathering of those who are saved: the catholic church rightly understood. All are redeemed in Christ Jesus, if only they believe this message sown to them.
Not all believe it; otherwise all would be saved regardless of whether they believe it. The catholic proclamation of the Gospel is a universal salvation, but it is not universalism, meaning all are saved whether or not they believe in Christ or even care about Christ. There’s a big difference between those two words. All are saved, yet not all hold [the Word] fast in an honest and good heart or bear fruit in patience.
Not all are saved because they don’t, or won’t, get out of the way. Though the Father’s Word is cast like seed into the ground, we put up all sorts of impediments to stop the seed from taking root in the patch of ground that is our heart. We think there are better ways of doing it, and if God will only get out of our way then we will find that better way without Him. There is no better way, for the way man proposes is the way of death. There is only one Way: Jesus Christ. Jesus is sowed by the sower to take root in us, be nourished, put down roots, grow, and bear fruit in patience.
There are those whose hearts will never receive the seed sown. That’s their fault, not the seed’s fault or the sower’s fault. There’s not much we can do about that. “Oh, what of that, and what of that”, the sower says in the hymn “Preach You the Word”. Yet where it is sown, nurtured, and bears fruit, the sower says “Ah, what of that, and what of that!”
What of that? The seed is the Word of God. The Word dwells in you richly when it is implanted in hearing the Word. The seed is nourished in baptismal water, drenched in the life-giving washing of regeneration and renewal by God. As you continue to hear the Word in Christian preaching, as you continue to eat and drink the Word under bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, as the seed continues by God’s grace to grow through holding the Word fast in an honest and good heart and bearing fruit in patience, it bears fruit. How much fruit is up to God. Whether it is ten-fold, fifty-fold, or up to a hundred-fold, “What of that, and what of that!”
Despite the obstacles we set up to stop the seed from having His way with us, despite the seeming reckless way the sower sows the seed, the seed remains the Word of God. Wherever the Word is sown, it will do what it does. Isaiah tells us so in the Old Testament reading: it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. The Father will make sure of it for the sake of His Son Jesus, the Seed that is sown Who brings abundant fruit.