Parable of the Sower – The Thicket

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In his Parable of the Sower Jesus said: “Other seed fell among the thorns, and as the thorns grew up it was choked so that it yielded no grain.” In another related teaching the Master said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while he slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and hastened away.”

In the first case it was the sower that created more work for himself and others by sowing seed among the less desirable plants. In the second case, the sower did everything right, but was the victim of an unfortunate circumstance. In each case, the question before the sower was one of how best to proceed once it was discovered the bramble and other weeds were harming the seedlings.

In one example the workers offered to pull up the weeds but the householder said: “No, lest as you are gathering them up, you uproot the wheat also.” He then described how the weeds and the wheat should be separated at harvest time when the wheat was mature, storing the wheat while burning the weeds.

Our Father in Heaven permits good and evil to go along together until the end of our growing season, just as the wheat and the tares grow side-by-side until the harvest. While it is, of course, easier and safer to separate the valuable crop from the undesirable weeds at harvest time, the challenges to the crop during the growing season may actually prove to be of some value.

The quality of our own endurance is often enhanced through challenges just as the hardiness, disease resistance, and steadfastness improve in the plant world. There is value in grappling with hardships.

We started this discourse with the statement “There is a ruggedized form of ministry.” Indeed, ours is a servant ministry. God is not raising us only to become hothouse orchids, for beauty is also found in the irrepressible reach for better things. We don’t embrace potential evil, although its existence can serve to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

Having us corralled into service of the Kingdom, through fear of reprisal or hell fire and brimstone, is of no more value to God than the sacrifice of virgins to a volcano. Recurrent uncertainties may indeed prompt us to choose the divine life over the self-life. But to manifest loyalty, in accordance with our highest and best understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness is of the most real, most enduring value.

We emerge from the thicket through a sincere love of the things our Heavenly Father holds dear. Our faithfulness, as evidenced by our adherence and fidelity to Divine values, is usually prerequisite to the assurances and the certainty of faith. The fact that we can draw an advance through the unmerited favor we term grace, is an indication of Our Father’s love for us. It does not mean that we should facilitate, engage in, or even flirt with disloyalty while making a presumption of Divine Mercy.

Those who placed a crown of thorns upon the head of our beloved Sovereign were not honoring him with an earthly monarchical crown. It was instead employed to cause physical and psychological pain, to mock him as they took to a knee and shouted “Hail King of the Jews.”

While such cruelty might have gratified his tormentors, Jesus was unwavering. He was steadfast in his loyalty to the Father’s will and his supreme values. Jesus stood majestically among the weeds and thorns. The stark contrast between the courage of Jesus and the moral cowardice of his accusers is not unlike that of the bramble that frustrates us; and the spiritual fruit that both defines and nourishes us.

When we have good seed, it is worth sowing intentionally, in fields receptive to it, and capable of supporting it. The Gospel seed is too precious to waste along the wayside, in the rocky places, or where it might be subject to thorny hazards that are best avoided. I once led a youth group where a highly impressive teen shared her wisdom during the discussion of a bible verse. She was spiritually illuminated as she stood before the group and said: “I’m the only bible some people will ever read.” I wanted to be like her as my thoughts immediately turned to a poster I once saw. It read: “Stand for what’s right even if you stand alone.”

We may, at times, be called to stand among the thorns just as Jesus did when his kingly bearing so impressed his captors. As we become more responsive to Divine Leading, we will learn to recognize the good soil and what has long been described as the teachable moment. The Promised Helper will guide us into all truth and remind us of the most appropriate lessons to share from among those truths.

Right now, our planet is so confused, so strife torn, and so rebellious that we are working in less than ideal conditions. Even so, we can help clear the way, work the soil, bring amendments; Create conditions where the Jesusonian Gospel of God within will emerge victorious.

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