A farmer’s life is a hard one. Farmers get up early and work through the day, tending their crops. In Jesus’ time, with no machinery to do the heavy work, the life of a farmer was one of backbreaking labour. The ground was hard, the weather was unpredictable, and the farmer and his family could starve if the crops failed to grow. Many of the crowd listening to Jesus telling the parable of the sower were farmers themselves. They knew just how hard it was to get crops from the soil.
Jesus likens the seed in the parable to ‘the word of the kingdom’ – the Good News that he brings. The different types of soil represent different responses to the word. Some people will fail to understand – the word never takes root in their hearts. Some respond joyfully to the word, but their faith does not have deep roots and they fall away. Some are distracted by the things of the world. And some disciples hear God’s word and understand it; they produce a rich harvest.
As Jesus looked around the great crowd, he must have known that his teaching would not take root in the hearts of all who were listening. Some would become faithful disciples, and some would walk away. But he continued to preach the Good News of God’s kingdom to the people. Like a farmer tending the crops, Jesus tended to the people, doing all that he could to bring them to faith. Today, it is up to us, as disciples of Christ, to sow the seed of the Good News by witnessing to our faith. It may be hard work. Some people will respond with joy, and some will walk away. But the Lord calls us to work faithfully at sowing the seed.