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Parables: a creative way to “scatter seed”

October 9, 2023

Daily Scripture

Matthew 13:2-3, 10-17; Luke 4:43

Matthew 13
2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.
3 He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed.”

10 Jesus’ disciples came and said to him, “Why do you use parables when you speak to the crowds?”
11 Jesus replied, “Because they haven’t received the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but you have. 12 For those who have will receive more and they will have more than enough. But as for those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away from them. 13 This is why I speak to the crowds in parables: although they see, they don’t really see; and although they hear, they don’t really hear or understand. 14 What Isaiah prophesied has become completely true for them:
You will hear, to be sure, but never understand;
        and you will certainly see but never recognize what you are seeing.
15     For this people’s senses have become calloused,
        and they’ve become hard of hearing,
        and they’ve shut their eyes
            so that they won’t see with their eyes
            or hear with their ears
            or understand with their minds,
                and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them [Isaiah 6:9-10].
16 “Happy are your eyes because they see. Happy are your ears because they hear. 17 I assure you that many prophets and righteous people wanted to see what you see and hear what you hear, but they didn’t.

Luke 4
But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom in other cities too, for this is why I was sent.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In this story the “farmer” scattering seed embodied Jesus’ sense of mission. But his reason for using parables may sound like he wanted to keep his message from getting through. In fact, Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:9-10, which did not say what God wished for, but showed people’s response in strong words. For Isaiah and Jesus (and us), some hearers had closed minds. No matter how much they listened, they wouldn’t hear. But parables “stuck,” nudging hearts and minds toward an “ah-ha” moment.

  • Author Michael Green quoted Prof. C. F. D. Moule as saying, “You can’t teach by spoon feeding. You must let people puzzle it out for themselves.” * How does this suggest at least one reason Jesus used parables? When have you understood Jesus’ message more deeply by wrestling with some part of it yourself rather than having someone else hand you an answer?
  • There was nothing arbitrary about Jesus’ saying that “those who have will receive more…. as for those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away from them” (verse 12). If you use certain muscles, they grow; left idle, they wither away. In what ways have you found yourself “receiving more” as you intentionally develop your spiritual “muscles”?

Lord Jesus, you came to bring light and life. Guide me as I continue learning how to live into the life you offer, how to stretch myself and grow in the atmosphere of your grace. Amen.

GPS Insights

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference and has served since 2007. She is thrilled to be specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

When my spouse and I were trained to be foster parents, we had no idea what we were signing up for and our first placement likely remains the silliest thing we have ever said “yes” to. A newborn, 19-month-old and three-year-old needed a safe place to live. We were to pick up the older two from the Children’s Division office in about three hours and then head over to the hospital to get the newborn. From the time I hung up the phone with our social worker, things were a blur of car seat buying, phone calls to loved ones and wondering what we were getting ourselves into. Our first meal as a family came from Wendy’s drive-through and I do not remember the specifics of getting them all fed and bathed and in bed that night. It was a disaster to say the least.

But I vividly remember our first breakfast as a family. Someone in our village had brought over cereal and some kid-sized bowls. When I set the bowl down in front of little E, the 19-month-old, she looked at me and started screaming. She did not have the words for it yet, but her big brother informed me that she did not know how to feed herself yet. Needing to tend to the newborn who was screaming in the other room, I told her that she was going to have to learn. I implored her to watch her big brother and encouraged her that she was a big girl now and could do it. Days later, I found her spoon feeding a baby doll in the playroom.

Those babies taught me so much of what I know about being a mom. And even more than that, they taught me what it means to encourage one another and make sure we are empowering each other. Jesus taught in parables because he was not interested in spoon feeding us the “right” answers. The learning and growing we do when we figure it out for ourselves (with a supportive community around us!) is what following Jesus is all about. I am grateful to remember her little, proud eyes that day she started feeding her baby all on her own. I hope it is a story that reminds you to walk with others as you grow in your faith.


© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Michael Green, The Message of Matthew. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 155.