But the seed on good soils stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. –Luke 8:15
Most people love a good story. Good stories have a way of transporting us to a different world, a world where we can forget the current one, albeit for only a moment. We find ourselves wrapped up in the drama of others, somehow feeling a connection with the story ourselves.
I think this is the reason Jesus spoke so often in parables; He knows how we are wired. In a world that is captured by truth delivered in quick sound bytes, Jesus says, “Once upon a time…” Truth conveyed in stories; stories that grabbed a hold of people.
Jesus’ stories used common imagery from His day, but He told stories in such a way that listeners were drawn in, only to find their ideas of God and the world in which they lived somehow expanded. His stories were like seeds planted deeply in the soil of His listeners’ hearts. These seeds would lie dormant for a while, but when the time came, they pushed forth through the surface to produce something beautiful in the lives of those who nurtured the seed.
In perhaps one of Jesus’ most well known stories, He tells of a sower spreading seed over a variety of different soils. Some soils receive the seed; others do not. Some see a crop produced by the seed; others do not. One soil, which eagerly awaits the seed and nurtures it, produces a crop 100 times that which was sown, a remarkable feat, one well beyond anything that could be imagined when the seed was sown.
Jesus’ meaning was clear. If you allow the seed to take up residence in you, if you choose to re-orient your life around these teachings, you will see God produce something in you that is beyond your wildest dreams.
When Jesus spoke of allowing these truths to take up residence in you, he spoke of “retaining” the seed planted. This word “retaining” is a fascinating word. It’s the Greek word katecho, which means to possess, but it can also mean to be possessed by. By the use of this word, Jesus made a profound statement. These teachings are not something to know and possess, but also something to be possessed by. We are not called to master these teachings, like a scientist studying something from afar. Rather, we are called to be in relationship with them, to allow them to explore our hearts and our motives, to be captured by them.
Only when you and I come into this kind of relationship with the Scriptures are we truly transformed by them. Only when they take up residence in us, capturing us by their profound beauty and mystery, is a crop produced in us, one that is beyond our wildest dreams.
This week, as you spend time reading the Scriptures, rather than seeing it as a duty, allow yourself to be caught up in the story. How does the story speak to you? How are you changed because of what you’ve read?