Some years ago, an American was invited to lecture in a foreign country. He stood on a platform facing a thousand people, none of whom could speak a word of English. “I’m glad to be here,” he said, whereupon an interpreter leaped up and spoke for a full minute. “But, I didn’t say all that.” he protested, “I didn’t say all that!”
A mustard tree grown from a tiny seed
Jesus told a little parable about a farmer sowing seed. Later someone came and added a long, long explanation. You can almost hear the voice of Jesus shout across the centuries: “I didn’t mean all that!”
So now, let’s go back and listen again to the little parable Jesus told. Said Jesus, “A farmer went out to sow. . . . ” You hear the story and think to yourself, what a dumb, dumb farmer! Can you imagine any farmer stupid enough to sow seed in a thorn-bush, a rock pile, or right down the center stripe of an interstate?
The parable is laughable, almost as silly as the Christian church sowing seed of the gospel! We may not have tossed God’s word into thorn-bushes, but we’ve certainly preached good news in mighty odd places — from the rocky coasts of Alaska to the jungle thickets of South Africa, all over the world.
What’s more, we still do. In our own land, every evening lay preachers spout good news to the winos in Detroit’s downtown, and every afternoon there’s an evangelist soap-boxing the gospel to push-and-shove crowds in the New York City subway system. Rock, thorn, and highway—if there’s anything sillier than sowing seed in a rock pile, it’s the Christian church spreading good news of the gospel. You hear the parable and think to yourself, what a dumb farmer!
Speaking Parables, David Buttrick, 2000, p.66.