Justo Gonzalez writes that “In spite of what we have been told since childhood, the parables of Jesus are not always simple illustrations to make a point clearer. On the contrary, quite often they point beyond themselves. In particular, they often point to the disobedience of the supposedly obedient, and they do so in such a fashion that, if his hearers take exception to what he says, by that very response they are proving the point of the parable.”* This often-overlooked truth implores us to reconsider how we teach and interpret parables. Parables are an essential component of Jesus’ teachings, and here—in these verses—Christ reveals to his disciples that “I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’”
So, in many ways, this parable is about how one learns to truly see, hear, and understand. This parable lays out the primary things that prevent us from seeing, hearing, and understanding—the devil, a lack of Scriptural rootedness, and temptation—in general, but particularly “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life.”
Nevertheless, this parable is also about more than what causes us to miss what God is doing. It is also about the awesome power of God, the guidance Scripture provides, and the way the Spirit uses those whom lay their lives down before the Lord as a living sacrifice. Through the humility and faithfulness of these willing vessels, the Spirit of God moves, and transforms, everyday people into reapers of the divine harvest. These God fearing servants hear God’s word, cling to it, and produce an unexpected, and even seemingly impossible harvest for the kingdom.
Ultimately, this passage, like most of Jesus’ parables, is about the Kingdom of God. This parable serves as a divine promise to all those who hear the word of God—the inquisitive, the seeker, the vacillating, and the steadfast—that God’s harvest will ultimately come to fruition, and there is nothing that neither rocks, nor the birds of the air, nor even the devil himself can do to prevent what God is in the process of doing. God is in the midst of reconciling all things and God has chosen to partner with meager people like you and me as conduits for this kingdom crop.
*Justo Gonzalez, Luke: Belief, A theological commentary on the Bible. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2017), 1o4.
Lenten Reader 2018
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