In Matthew 13, we can read the “Parable of the Sower.” In Jesus’ day, sowing seeds was generally the way crops were planted. The sower would broadcast the seeds in a sweeping motion. As the seeds were thrown from the sower’s hand, they would cover a larger area, so not every seed would end up exactly where it should be. Everyone in Jesus’ audience knew that the seeds scattered would end up in very different places. Even though the sower is the first thing mentioned in the parable, he is not the main character. The parable is more about the seed and soil than the sower, who is not mentioned again after the planting. Some of the seeds fell on the path, where some alert birds saw them and ate them. Some fell in rocky soil, sprang up quickly and succumbed to the heat of the sun. Some seeds were choked out by the thorns and weeds as they grew. However, some fell on good soil and did exactly what they were created to do—produce abundantly. The main point of the “Parable of the Sower” is to realize that our reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of our hearts. Salvation is more than a superficial hearing of the gospel. Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it. May our faith and our lives exemplify the good soil.
A Living Faith
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson “I have many memories of my boyhood. Anticipating Sunday dinner was one of them. Just as we children hovered at our so-called starvation level and sat anxiously at the table, with the aroma of roast beef filling the room, Mother would say to me, ‘ Tommy, before we eat, take this plate I’ ve prepared down the street to Old Bob and hurry back.’ I would run down to Bob’ s house and then wait anxiously as his aged feet brought him eventually to the door. Then I would hand him the plate of food. He would present to me the clean plate from the previous Sunday and offer me a dime as pay for my services. My answer was always the same: ‘ I can’ t accept the money. My mother would tan my hide.’ He would then say, ‘ My boy, you have a wonderful mother. Tell her thank you.’ I remember, too, that Sunday dinner always seemed to taste a bit better after I had returned from my errand.”-Thomas S. Monson Jesus expects His followers to help others who are less fortunate. The Bible teaches this simple concept over and over. We serve God by serving others and we show love by serving others. Jesus Himself said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 (NIV)
Power and Value
Mark was the first account of Jesus’ life to be penned and he focuses the majority of his writing on the power Jesus demonstrated. He healed a man of leprosy and in his power to overcome an incomprehensible illness began to heal a spirit and a heart that was in even greater need of healing. His power over the physical was simply a foreshadowing of his power over sin.
In this picture of Jesus’ power we see him raise a little girl from the dead and heal a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Both not only demonstrate his unmatched power of the physical barriers of death and sickness, but also demonstrate his desire to create a new social order where women and children are given dignity.
Path to Grace
We are broken, imperfect, make mistakes (repeatedly) and seem to never learn from our missteps. Yet, as undeserving as we may feel, Jesus holds open the door to His house, invites us in, and will forgive us. By healing a woman from Tyre, Jesus was creating a new religious precedent which communicated to all who were watching and listening that no one would be excluded from God’s family. In the new kingdom, the door on God’s house would no longer be closed to Gentiles. Are you ready to step through that open door?
Through the Roof Faith
Luke is a gentile doctor who seems fascinated by Jesus’ love for people. He structures his entire gospel around meals that Jesus shares with outcasts to demonstrate that nothing will stand between Jesus and people. And Jesus was a popular man by the time he wrapped up his first tour of Galilee. As he visits a familiar home in a familiar town, crowds refuse to give up their seats to those who need his attention the most. Luke always emphasizes Jesus’ love for those who had been pushed to the margins of society and this scene is no different.
The Beginning of the Story
The story of the woman in Luke 7:36-50 is powerful. We see a beautiful picture of God’s love and ultimate forgiveness for sinners and an amazing example of thankfulness and love in response to that forgiveness and grace. This sinful woman comes to Jesus with her most prized possession and pours it on Jesus’ feet. And with her tears and hair, she anoints Him. We see an example of true surrender, laying the best we have at the feet of Jesus. Rather than just taking the forgiveness offered, she gives something back to Jesus. He wants us to do the same—surrender, forgive others, and lay down our lives before Him.
You Can Change
Ironically, in Hebrew, the name Zacchaeus means pure or innocent and he was neither. He was a Roman tax collector, extorting money from his fellow citizens. Yet, Jesus wanted to eat with him and offered him forgiveness, mercy and acceptance. This showed Zacchaeus how much he was loved, which made him want to change. Jesus came to earth to save sinners and no one is beyond His help. He calls us to repent and come to Him so we can have eternal life. The love of Jesus is free and offered to each of us. All we have to do is accept it.
From Shame to Praise
A glimpse of His glory occurred when Jesus, His mother and His disciples were guests at a wedding at Cana in Galilee. It was there His first public miracle took place. Rather than it being a miracle seen by many, it was accomplished because of a conversation with His mother. The host ran out of wine and knowing Jesus could do something to help, His mother told Him about it. She then told the servants to do whatever Jesus said. He took the jars of water and turned them into wine. A simple statement from a mother resulted in a miracle from her Son.
Light in the Dark Sky
Skepticism and impatience fuel each other. We want doubt to give way to clarity, quickly. When answers are slow to come, doubts and suspicions grow stronger. If you aren’t quite sure about Jesus and if you are frustrated because your questions seem to linger on, take a deep breath. You’re in good company. Jesus was questioned by his brothers. They pushed Him to show proof of His claims. But Jesus saw the bigger picture. He waited. And answers were definitely on the way.
So much of what happened in the hours leading up to the crucifixion happened to fulfill prophecy and remind people of all they had waited for. Before the crucifixion, Peter denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. After the resurrection Jesus appeared before the disciples and asked Peter, three times in three different ways, if he loved him. Peter finally replied, “Lord, you know all things; you know I love you.” Jesus was confirming his love for Peter even though Peter had failed him. In this moment, Peter’s failure was highlighted but forgiveness was granted.