Knowing When to Stop
I can see the bird feeder in our backyard from my desk. I have to keep a careful eye on it. If I don’t, a squirrel, and sometimes two, will raid the feeder. As soon as they show up to chow down, the cardinals, doves, woodpeckers, and even the blue jays take off. In this scenario the birds are the good guys and the squirrels are the bad guys who need to be chased away. But in Jesus’ story about the sower and the seed, it’s the birds that play the role of the bad guys.
“And again Jesus began to teach by the Sea. The crowd was so large that he got into a boat, sat down, and launched out a few feet into the lake. He could now teach the crowd from lake while they were a safe distance away on the land. So he began to teach them using parables and talking to them about many things. ‘Listen carefully!’ he said, ‘Look-a sower went out to sow. Some of the seed fell by the path and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it did not have much soil. It sprouted right away because the soil was so shallow, but when the sun came up, it was scorched. Because there were no roots, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorn plants grew up and choked it and it yielded no grain. But other seed fell on good soil and produced grain, growing up and producing more and more—thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold.’ Then Jesus said, ‘If you have ears, pay attention!’’’ Mark 4:1-10
Good teachers know when to stop. They don’t give away all the answers, and Jesus is the greatest teacher of all. If we were listening to him teach by the Sea of Galilee that day, he would have stopped at this point and allowed us to walk away thinking-- Who is the sower? What’s the seed? What do the different kinds of soil represent? So let’s walk away and wrestle with these questions.
LORD, thanks for how my wife Mary reminds me not to give away the answers in my questions but to respect my students and give them a chance to work things through.
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