MATTHEW 13:1-9 ESV
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.””
“Who do you love?” That’s the question we want to pose to you today. We live in a society where everything competes for our attention and really our loyalty. Right now, we’re living in the most significant sporting season of the year, as soccer leagues and post-season baseball compete with the beginning of both college and professional football. And the basketball and hockey fans are gearing up for their seasons, waiting for baseball to end and the football hype to go away.
In the technology world, Apple is announcing their latest iPhone on the 12th and Samsung has suddenly moved up the launch date on their competing phone to compete with Apple’s announcement. It’s ridiculous, right? And all of this in the wake of foreign wars and natural disasters that leave people helpless, homeless, and hopeless.
And then there’s Jesus. In our text for today, He’s just created a lot of buzz through statements He’s been making and works He’s been doing. As a result, a large crowd has gathered to hear more. They’ve congregated on the beach, leaving little room for Him to speak. So, He gets on a boat and pushes out just far enough away from the shore for everyone to see and hear Him.
In order to teach them about faith, He tells them a parable about a sower who is spreading seeds, and there are various circumstances that are making it difficult for the seeds to grow. The point of the parable is to show the importance of cultivating our lives so that we do not find ourselves being robbed of faith, shallow in faith, or having faith suffocated.
But, something else is going on here. This discourse isn’t just about the parable. It’s also about the importance of the disciples learning who they really love. If they are going to do God’s work, they must love God and love others enough to step out and spread Jesus’ salvation message to others. He’s saying this for their benefit, something Jesus reveals later in the chapter. The disciples are to take the truth to the people and explain it them. He is cultivating them to be teachers and preachers, who sow the seeds of salvation to a world that is robbed, shallow, and suffocating. And so Jesus puts it to the disciples, essentially saying to them, “Who do you love? Do you love them so as to tell them the truth?”
Will the disciples choose to love the world God came to save or will they keep within themselves the best kept secret in the universe? Do they love God enough to obey Him? Do they love the people enough to save them from a thieving, shallow, suffocating world? Who do you love?
This text reminded me of something my dad, Wesley, did back in the early nineties. He wanted to sign me up for tackle football in our hometown. So he loaded me up and took me down to the Park and Rec center, only to find out that there was no tackle football for the 9 and 10 year olds. My dad knew in that moment that this could be the reason why our middle school and high school football teams were suffering from terrible slumps season after season. There was no culture of football being instilled in the lives of the kids as they were growing up.
So, being the man he is, he asked the director what it would take to start the program. She laughed because the task was too big to undertake. The equipment was too old, there were no jerseys, and besides all that there were no coaches and no kids. That didn’t stop Wesley. He told her to give him a little time.
Dad went home and got on the phone. He called his former football buddies from high school and asked them if they would be interested in coaching. They said yes. He called up his friend groups and literally begged them to let their children play. They said yes. The coaches put in money, the parents put in money, the Park and Rec put what little money in that they could scrounge, without a budget, into the program, and all of a sudden there was football for kids for the first time in two decades.
My dad loved his community and together with the other coaches, they used their love for the game to give their community an opportunity to teach children and their families about athleticism, teamwork, and character development. This was an investment into something bigger, giving people a chance they never had until this. Who do you love?
And so, who do you love? Do you love people enough to go out into a boat and yell up to the folks on the shore? Do you love others enough to take the good seed that you have and spread it in places that seems almost pointless? Will you work outside your family, your friends, and your small group?
Do you love God enough to trust Him with this mission of spreading the gospel? Do you love God enough to follow Jesus to those seemingly pointless places? Who do you love?
Now, I want to address those of you “on the beach,” those of you who are struggling with your faith. Are you on a path where you are vulnerable to God’s good news being taken away from you? Are you surrounded by hard places and shallow soil, and it looks like you might not stand a chance? Are you surrounded on all sides by things pressing in on you, choking out your faith, and taking away any chance of receiving believing faith?
We want you to be on good soil. We are offering you better soil than you have. We want for the seed that the Sower has to fall on a place where it can thrive. But in order for that to happen, you have to come and place yourself before Jesus. He will provide good soil for His life to grow in you.
Who do you love? Today, we can sow and we can be sown, but that will be up to you. Who do you love?