Pastor Mark’s Devotions, July 9

“The Parable of the Petunias”

“Those who have ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:10

Two months ago, while taping the Mother’s Day service at the Haskin’s house, Linda sent me home with a number of petunia plants. They were starters from seeds that began to break ground in her green house. At home, I watered and watched as those tiny seedlings continued to grow in the sun. After a short time, it was evident that they were outgrowing their small containers. I had one bag of fresh, rich soil. I emptied the bag into one of my large flower pots and there, transplanted a few of the petunias. The rest of the petunias I planted in a flowerbed by the road. These particular petunias were simply placed in the natural sandy soil. As I continued to water and watch the petunias grow – the flowers in the pot with fresh, rich soil soared with new buds and colorful flowers and green leaves. The flowers in the natural soil, seemed to sour as flowers faded, leaves turned yellow and new buds disappeared. The more that I watered, the more one set of flowers reached for the heavens. The other set continued to struggle as if simply trying to hold on to life.

Those who have ears, let them hear!

Have you ever dreamed of being part of the crowd, that sat on the sloping hillside, and listened to Jesus’ teaching?

You are surrounded by a large crowd. Everyone is bubbling with excitement. Jesus steps into a boat at the water’s edge, so that people can hear his words. Jesus has a warm smile. He calls for the crowd to move in close. There is something about him that makes you want to run right to him. You would actually like to climb right into the boat and sit right beside him, but that is not very reasonable. One thing is clear, you cannot get close enough. He has such an inviting, engaging, attracting presence that everyone wants to nestle in close.

Jesus looks beyond the crowd to the East. On the other hillside, he points to a farmer working in his field. Jesus directs his hearers to the worker as he casts his seed.

Jesus says, “A farmer went out to sow seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop -a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”

Jesus then concludes this story with the words, “The one who has ears, let them hear.”   

You turn to your neighbor sitting beside you. You ask him, “What did he say about the farmer? What does he mean?” Your new friend asks you, “What did you hear about the seed? What is he talking about?” Someone else pipes up, “Do you think he wants us to go help the farmer?”  A murmur passes through the crowd. Everyone knows that Jesus has said something important, they just don’t know what it is.

You overhear Jesus’ closest friends ask him, “Why do you speak to the people with such parables?” You hear Jesus respond, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you but not to them.”

You wonder why Jesus would not explain the stories to everyone in the crowd. His response does not discourage you. In fact, his reply causes you to want to press in even closer and try to figure out what Jesus really means. As the sun begins to set and the crowd begins to disperse, you wonder, “Should I stay, or should I go?”

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark