Although I have long wanted to distance myself as much as possible from farming, I have equally found it impossible to entirely neglect the insights that can be gained from having one’s attention placed on matters of farming. If I have never wanted to be a farmer, neither have I ever been able to entirely forget where I came from and what my family did for so many generations. As a college student I returned to the family farm for part of the summer of 2003, and found that it rained every day I was there, to the general despair of my father and grandmother, who looked out over the damp fields and wondered when it would ever be dry enough to harvest the hay for our cattle. I could not be indifferent to the plight of my relatives, nor look out of the window to the continual drizzling and fog and dreariness without a certain sense of deep concern for the fragility of my family’s farming operation, and the knowledge that all of their efforts at planting good seed would go for naught if there was not enough sunshine for the harvest to go on. Such experiences give one thoughts that are worthy of numerous layers of meaning, from the most obvious ones to ones relating to spiritual harvests.
This morning one of the elders here in Estonia gave a message on good seeds that was taken in large part from his own experiences as a farmer. Matthew 13 contains three parables  that deal with farming and planting, each of them with a different focus. Matthew 13:3-9 gives us the parable of the sower and the seed: “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”” Later on, in Matthew 13:24-30, we read the parable of the wheat and the tares: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Still later, in Matthew 13:31-32, we read the parable of the mustard seed: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.””
Each of these parables has something different that it focuses on. The parable of the sower and the seed focuses on the different types of land that the seed falls on, referring to different types of hearts that hear the Gospel message and respond to it differently. The parable of the wheat and tares refers to the fact that there are both godly and ungodly people mixed up together, some of them planted by Jesus Christ and some by the Enemy, who are harvested with different fates. The parable of the mustard seed focuses on the growth of the Kingdom of God from a small size to the point where it becomes much more massive. In all of these cases there are many layers and a high degree of nuance. To give but one example, the question of the growth of the Kingdom of God takes place on at least two layers. For one, we can note that within believers what is at first a small seed of understanding planted by Jesus Christ can become quite large, to the point where it is able to provide encouragement and support to others. For another, we can note that the initial small dealings of God and Jesus Christ within the world can become quite large as believers and the Church of God grow in maturity and understanding and righteous practice, to the point where the Church can provide a resting place for new believers.
In all such places, though, the workings of Jesus Christ are associated with good seed. In the case of the parable of the sower and the seed, it is the ground that can be good or bad. Where a heart is welcoming to the truth of God, it produces with abundance, but where that heart is chocked up with cares or lacks depth or is overly cynical and hard, no lasting and good crop can be harvested. In the case of the parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus Christ plants good seed but an enemy plants bad seed in the world as a way of attempting to sabotage Christ’s work. I find that hard to understand myself, as throughout most of my life at least I have been far too busy in my own work to sabotage the efforts of others, and I have tended to see that at least ultimately sabotage is not successful when it is tried, as it demonstrates a sort of desperation that should best be avoided. With the parable of the mustard seed, the focus is on the growth potential of the seed itself, and the reminder that small beginnings can lead to immensely fruitful harvests, and that we should not be to quick to judge the effectiveness of what God is doing by its initial size alone.
All of these parables are useful in reminding us about the workings of God with mankind, and that what God does is always good and what God does will always work out, in the long run. The focus is, of course, on the harvest, where the efforts of those involved in the sowing, watering, and preparing is tested to see how productive it has been. Ultimately, God knows the state of His harvest, and knows what soil our heart is and knows who planted the seed that we are in the world. Let us all hope that we are good seeds, growing as part of a productive harvest, able to help fed a world starving for truth and love. One does not want to think of the alternative.
 See, for example: