Monday, January 25, 2010
The Sower: Why Parables?
Today we begin the study of the parable of The Sower in Luke chapter 8. I have selected this particular parable because of its vivid imagery and concrete application.
It should be noted that Jesus was not the first to use parables when teaching. It was used frequently among ancient moralists and philosophers--the most famous being Aesop. However, there is enough difference between the parables Jesus told and the fables of Aesop that I must pause to clarify. Parables are generally stories of comparison between something known and something unknown. The former was used to explain the later. The comparisons utilized real world situations readily understandable to the hearer. The fable, on the other hand, though seeking to achieve similar ends, employed a more "fairy tale" style. The main characters were generally talking animals. Jesus never did this. He was not a teller of fairy tales. When he told a story the hearers could not be faulted for wondering if they had missed a happening in the news.
Now to the parable at hand. The parable of The Sower is quite possibly misnamed. It gives the impression that the point is to study the farmer sowing the seed. However, the real emphasis is on the four types of soil upon which the seed was scattered. If we are to understand Jesus explanation as definitive, then we are meant to grasp that there are four types of people and each one of us is represented by one of the soils. There does not seem to be a fifth category we can wiggle into as we are apt to try to do.
The questions laid upon all of us by the parable of The Soils (yes, I changed the name) are: firstly, What kind of soil am I? and secondly, What consequences are there for remaining the type of soil I am? The answers to these questions affect all of life and are therefore absolutely essential to grasp.
Thankfully, Jesus answers these questions and tomorrow we will begin.