Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:3-8 ESV
During the winter I used to scan through seed catalogues and plan for spring planting. Then on a blank sheet of paper I would draw the garden and decide where to put the cucumbers and squash and tomato plants. Jesus tells a story of a farmer who like me had decided what seed to plant, where to plant it and the exact day to put them in the soil. He left his house with a bag of the precious seed to begin his day’s work. As he started up the hard path some seed spilled out and as it bounced on the hard ground the birds began to follow him and gobble them up. Once he arrived, he tried to evenly spread the seeds in the furrows but even though the plowed field looked beautiful and clean, underneath the surface there were hidden rocks in some places and thorn and thistle seeds in others.
The same story happens every Sunday in our churches. We all hear the same sermon, but the message has different results depending on how we listen. But our problem is not with the farmer or the seed! The difference at harvest time comes from how our field has been prepared. Before we hear even one more sermon maybe our prayer should be, “Oh Lord prepare my heart!”
This parable of the vineyard had always held for me the mystery of sunlight shining through fog. I was sure something wonderful was there but couldn’t quite make out exactly what. I once figured that the owner of the vineyard kept retuning for more workers because he didn’t want to lose his harvest. It reminded me of working a hayfield with six of my friends till 2 am. A thunderstorm was rolling in and hay left in the field might be spoiled so we labored till the first drops of rain started falling. But the story of this man returning over and over to the town square till almost quitting time just seemed odd.
Why did he hire men even when it was almost quitting time and why pay them the same as the others? After all the guys who only worked one hour certainly weren’t producing enough to even cover their wage. But then I remembered that when the owner hired those fellows he asked why they were standing around all day and they told him ,”because no one hired us.” They had stayed because they clung to hope even as the afternoon shadows grew longer.
And isn’t that the wonderful depth of the grace of Jesus? He doesn’t come until even the final hours because he cares about hay ruined in his field or grapes left on the vine. He comes over and over looking for us. The lostness of people who no one else wants, who stand abandoned in the town square stirs God’s heart to action! So with whatever few hours we have in His field let’s work with joy, knowing that from the depths of His grace we will receive far more than we deserve on the day we stand before Him!
Matthew 6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.
If you are like me maybe you been doing more some worrying off and on during this pandemic. We wonder if our family members will get sick or what is going to happen to our nation. We worry about going to the grocery store and wonder when we can go to church again.
The people listening to Jesus were not so much different than us. They had plenty of their own troubles – like corrupt government officials extorting them for money – the threat of getting leprosy that could put you in social isolation for life and a strict religious system that might get you kicked out of the synagogue for even listening to Jesus. So Jesus didn’t just say; “Don’t worry; Be happy!” Instead He talked about lilies. These weren’t the lilies we associate with Easter or the garden lilies we are familiar with but were flowers that grew wild in the fields of Galilee.
That kind of blossom reminds me of the wild flowers in the farm fields. Generally they were unnoticed while the hay was tall since they grew in the shade of the taller grass. But once the fields were mown and the hay made into bales their tiny yellow, purple and red blossoms put on quite a show. My job being to stack the bales I got the delight of a great view of them from my perch high atop the hay wagon as we road we back to the barn.
Since Jesus said to consider flowers as a stress reliever I thought that today it might be fun to just share some flower photos from my morning walks. Have a blessed and unworried day safe on the top of God’s hay wagon as he steers us slowly back to His barn!