Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
Because the subject is the same, it is not surprising very similar stories can be found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For this reason, the lectionary will sometimes skip the story in one gospel since it was already told in another. The entire chapter 12 of Matthew's gospel is omitted from the lectionary reading which Jesus is challenged by various authorities. Instead, the story moves directly from Jesus' teaching about following the cross to an illustration of how people are like soil. The purpose of this explanation is not to condemn the bad soil but rather to show how people are at different stages in their spiritual growth. Those who think they are already mature often end up being the ones who have become the hardened path. As any gardener in that region would have known, good soil does not happen on its own. The soil must be worked over time until it is ready for the seed or the result will be as Jesus illustrated. It is the soil's receptivity to the work of grace that allows the soil to be prepared. Hardened hearts must be broken and the rocks of tradition and culture must be removed. While tradition allows for immediate receptivity, when the word proves challenging the tradition is easily replaced by another (church hopping). The challenges of the world are constantly casting weeds onto the soil. Temptations and stress choke out the seeds of truth and love. No one starts out as good soil and maintaining good soil means daily being receptive to the trans-formative work of grace.
Matthew 13:18 Jesus invites us to "Hear then the parable of the sower."
Recall the times in your life when you have been various types of soil.
When did it seem like you finally "heard" the word even though it was not new?
Have the challenges of life ever choked out the message of God?
Have you ever met someone who was "gung-ho" for religion only to become disillusioned?