Does it get any better than this? Here’s this crowd, standing on the beach, gathered to hear Jesus teach. I’d like to point out a few things. To start, there’s a crowd gathered around Jesus, and I can feel the excitement and energy of the crowd as I read Matthew’s account (maybe you can remember what crowds were like, too). Then, Jesus gets into a boat to teach the crowd standing on the beach, and I can vividly imagine this unfolding scene (probably because the recent cold and snow have me well-practiced at dreaming about the beach). And then, Jesus tells this well-known parable, and I can almost see the sower and the seeds and the birds and the soil. I can almost hear Him say, “He who has ears, let him hear.” What a scene is playing out on the page before us! Does it get any better than this? Jesus goes on to tell His disciples and us that it does–or at least it can.
After hearing the parable of the sower, the disciples have some questions, and that’s when Jesus tells them that there are actually two ways to hear and two ways to see. By all indications, the same seed was scattered along the path, on the rocky ground, among the thorns, and on the good soil. The difference was not the word but the hearer. There are some who see and hear the “secrets” or the “mysteries” of the kingdom of heaven, but they do not understand or perceive what is before them. Physically, all seems to be right. They have ears and eyes, but spiritually, they neither hear nor see. Like the people in Isaiah’s day, their hearts are unreceptive and unrepentant. They might give the appearance of understanding for a season, but in the end, the seed wouldn’t grow and bear fruit in their lives. For them, this picture-perfect day at the beach is as good as it gets.
But there are also those who hear the word and understand it, where the seed of the kingdom takes root, bears fruit, and yields an exponential increase. If you have heard the good news of Jesus’ kingdom, trusted Him, and endure in following Him, Jesus says that it does get better than this. He says that the sowing of the word into your life is the beginning of a life that sows those same life-giving words into the lives of others, bearing fruit and yielding an increase. The size of that increase may vary based on the receptiveness of the hearers, but Jesus doesn’t instruct us to discriminate in our sowing, to sow more or less in what appears to be good or bad soil. So, I pray today that our hearts would be receptive to God’s word and that our lives would scatter the words of the kingdom wherever we go, so that those with ears to hear may know that it does get better than this.